Christabel Carlisle “Mini Virtuoso” – An Interesting Person, An Interesting Book

This story begins a few months ago when I acquired the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally plate that was used by Bo Ljungfeldt on one of the factory Ford Falcon cars that competed that year.  At that time, through Endurance Rally Association’s Fred Gallagher, I was introduced to Pablo Raybould of England.  Pablo is an actor/film-maker who is also a passionate collector of rally memorabilia.  Pablo, along with Christabel Carlisle, has just published a book titled “Christabel Carlisle “Mini Virtuoso””.  When I heard about Pablo’s book, I had to get a copy.  It just arrived last week, when I was out-of-town, but I have had a look through it, and it is an interesting book.  It is a book that makes you wonder “what if?”

It is a book about the very brief racing/rallying career of a young British woman, Christabel Carlisle.  Her career only lasted from 1961 to 1963, then she abruptly gave up car racing and went on to other things in life.

Christabel Carlisle Rose To Prominence Racing Her Street car – An Austin Seven 850

Christabel Carlisle raced her street Austin Seven with the 848cc engine twice in 1960.  She had such an enjoyable time that in 1961 she took up racing with her Austin Seven with some seriousness.  And she did have some very good finishes in British Saloon car races.  She did so well that she came to the attention of the BMC motorsports people.  In 1962 John Cooper introduced the first Mini Cooper with the slightly larger 997cc engine.  Christabel was given a seat in the Mini Cooper and as evidenced by the results below, she continued to do well.  And she was still only 22 years old or so.

Because of her results and the appeal of a young woman doing well in car racing, she became very well known in racing.  It seemed that her racing career was really taking off.

Tony Maggs, Jack Brabham, Christabel Carlisle, Roy Salvadori, Graham Hill, and Jim Clark At A Celebrity Race At The Snetterton Track In 1962

In addition to racing, BMC also got Christabel Carlisle involved in rallying.  In 1962 she was the co-driver for John Sprinzel in his Sprite in the Monte Carlo Rally.  They finished fourth in class despite severely damaging the engine on the final test in Monaco.

John Sprinzel and Christabel Carlisle At The 1962 Monte Carlo Rally

In 1963 she once again competed in the Monte Carlo Rally, this time as the co-driver for the original Flying Finn, Timo Makinen in a big Healey.  They finished first in class, 13th Overall, and an outright win in the GT Class.

Timo Makinen And Christabel Carlisle At the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally

After their success in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally, Timo Makinen and Christabel Carlisle teamed up once again for the Hankiralli in Finland,  –  this time in a Mini Cooper.  They finished 6th Overall.

Timo Makinen and Christabel Carlisle At The Hankiralli In 1963

Christabel did not like the rallies, as they took up too much time away from her music teaching “day job”.  She turned down an opportunity to become a full time member of the BMC Rally Team as this would essentially mean the end of teaching music.  Racing on the other hand, was essentially a weekend sport, which fit in well with her music teaching.

So why did she quit racing later in 1963?  In July 1963 while racing a Sprite at Silverstone, Christabel was in accident that claimed the life of a RAC race Scrutineer, Harry Cree, who was working in the pit area.  Christabel Carlisle gave up racing after that.  That’s why I wrote earlier “what if?”

Obviously the book is much more thorough that I have been here and it is an interesting read.  In addition, I am pleased to say that the particular book that I has been autographed by Christabel Carlisle.

If you want to get a copy of this book contact pabloraybould at blueyonder dot co dot uk

If you have any comments or questions about this post or this book, then leave a comment below or you can send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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