It was often said in rally circles that Pat Moss was “one of the boys”. The truth was that she was actually better than most of the boys. An extremely talented horsewoman and member of the British Show Jumping team, she got involved in motor sport not through her brother Stirling or her parents, both of whom competed, but by an invitation to go on a treasure hunt with Stirling’s manager, Ken Gregory. Her taste whetted, she started rallying her own Morris Minor before buying a TR2 in 1954, with which she had a degree of success. An offer from BMC to drive for the team was rapidly accepted and she drove an MG TF on the 1955 RAC Rally.
Pat stayed with BMC for nine years during which she achieved many of her major successes, of which the most outstanding was her victory on the 1960 Liège-Rome-Liège in an Austin Healey 3000 – the first time a woman had won an international rally. This four-day non-stop marathon was truly an event that all the boys wanted to finish, let alone win, and for a woman to win it in an overtly masculine car was a major achievement. There were other outright victories in those years with Mini Coopers (the 1962 Tulip Rally) and Healeys, but for 1964 Pat was lured to Ford to drive the new Cortina GT. This did not work out and, now married to Erik Carlsson (with Pat, below), she went to join him at Saab.
Again she was successful with the little two-stroke machine, finishing in the top four on tough events like the Acropolis, Liège and RAC, but her outstanding Saab result was on the extremely snowy Monte Carlo rally of 1965 where she finished third behind Timo Mäkinen’s Cooper S and Eugen Böhringer’s Porsche 904. When Erik retired at the end of 1967, Pat signed up with Lancia and rallied a Fulvia coupé. With the arrival of daughter Suzy, she did fewer events in the 1970s and thus effectively retired.
Pat Moss-Carlsson, a five-time European Ladies’ Championship winner, was a delight to be around on a rally. Outside the car she was friendly, generous, vivacious – and constantly mislaying her handbag. Once behind the wheel, however, she had no difficulty in showing that female drivers were every bit as quick – and frequently quicker – than the men. To her husband Erik and daughter Suzy we offer our condolences.