Biographical Book About Rally Driver Pat Moss

As a result of my apparent obsession with books about car rallying, I recently acquired a book entitled “Harnessing Horsepower” which was written by Stuart Turner about rally driver Pat Moss.  Pat Moss was a very successful rally driver in the era of the late 1950s through the 1960s.

The book is titled “Harness Horsepower” as early in her career she was a very successful equestrian.  Sho was good enough to be selected to represent England in several competitions.  While early pages of the book deal with this impressive “horsey” part of her life, it was of only mild interest to me.

Harnessing Horsepower Cover

Pat Moss Was A Top Rally Driver In The 1960s

The note on the cover about the foreword is also part of her interesting story.  Pat Moss was the sister of famed race car/rally driver Stirling Moss and she was also the wife of legendary Saab rally driver, Erik Carlsson.  A significant part of the book includes stories about the automotive background of both her father, Alfred, and her mother, Aileen.  Alfred drove in the Indianapolis 500 in the 1920s and her mother Aileen was a successful rally competitor on a local level.  With that background, it was natural for Pat Moss to be drawn to motor sport.  She started rallying in the mid-1950s.  Her first major rally was the 1955 RAC rally in which she drove a MG TF.  She learned fast and began to take part in the major continental rallies of the day as part of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) rally team.

She really began to have outstanding success when BMC began to compete in rallies with “the big Healey”.  The image below shows the great result that she had at the 1960 Alpine Rally where she finished second overall.

Moss Wisdom Alpine 1960

Pat Moss, A Big Healey, And Navigator Ann Wisdom Display Their Trophies After Finishing 2nd Overall in the 1960 Alpine Rally

No doubt her biggest victory was finishing first Overall in the 1960 Liege-Rome-Liege rally.  The Liege-Rome-Liege Rally was regarded as the toughest rally of that era.  The rally was very long, at well over 2,000 miles, and was run over a period of about three-four days.  This event was very demanding with respect to the required speeds to make the controls and the very long days in the car.

Liege Winner 1960

Pat Moss On Her Way To Winning The 1960 Liege-Rome-Liege Rally

A couple of images that caught my attention involved the Canadian Winter Rally.  In 1959 Pat Moss and navigator Ann Wisdom did very well in the Monte Carlo rally.  Moss/Wisdom finished 10th Overall and first in the Coupe des Dames class.  BMC wanted to take advantage of the fame of Pat Moss’ finish in the Monte Carlo rally so shortly after the Monte Carlo rally she was asked to go to Canada to compete in the Canadian Winter Rally.  She was less than impressed with the Austin A40 that BMC provided for her in Canada.  The car would not start and when it did run, she called it “gutless”.  I don’t know the details of the Canadian Winter Rally that year, but Pat Moss did not think much of the event.  To quote from the book, “The speeds set were desperately low, so it was monotonous.”.

Canadian Winter 1959

Pat Moss With An Austin A40 At The 1959 Canadian Winter Rally

Pat Moss came back to the Canadian Winter Rally in 1961.  Although this time she did not compete in the rally as she was asked to flag the cars off for the rally.  The image below shows her waving Erik Carlsson/Stuart Turner off in their Saab.  She certainly does not look like she was dressed for a car rally – even to wave a rally off!

Canadian Winter 1961

Pat Moss Flagging Off Erik Carlsson/Stuart Turner At The 1961 Canadian Winter Rally

Pat Moss died on October 14, 2008 of cancer that has been blamed on her habit of smoking.  She was a heavy smoker.  It was said that you could follow the rally route, by just following the cigarette butts from Pat Moss’ car.

There is no doubt that she was a great rally driver and this book is an excellent telling of her life story by someone who was there.

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2 Responses to Biographical Book About Rally Driver Pat Moss

  1. Ian Holmes says:

    I am reading this book myself right now. On thing that has struck me was her superstition regarding the number 13. She seems to have taken an instant dislike to any car where the numbers on the registration plate added up to 13.

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