PADDY HOPKIRK MBE 1932-2022
The world of motorsport lost another of its classic heroes on 21st July, with the passing of Paddy Hopkirk at the age of 89.
Belfast-born Paddy started rallying an Austin Seven, then graduated to VW Beetles and later gained Works drives with Standard-Triumph and Rootes, before switching to BMC in 1962. There he started campaigning the Austin-Healey 3000, but it is his exploits in the Mini Cooper S for which he will be forever remembered. With Henry Liddon, he took the feisty little Mini to an improbable victory in the Monte Carlo Rally of 1964, the first of what would have been four successive wins for the BMC car had not the organisers bent over backwards to disqualify it in 1966.
Paddy's later career included class wins in prestigious races including the Le Mans 24 Hours and the British Touring Cars Championship, as well as gruelling long-distance events such as the London-to-Sydney Marathon of 1968 and the London-to-Mexico World Cup Rally of 1970. He stepped back from full-time motorsport at the end of that year, but his interest never waned and there would be many later drives on the classic rally scene.
The Guild of Motoring Writers Vice- President Ray Hutton said of Paddy: 'He had a huge circle of friends inside and outside motoring and a great enthusiasm for life in general. Even in his eighties, he was travelling the world as an ambassador for BMW’s New MINI, working with IAM RoadSmart to encourage high road driving standards in older drivers (and young racers), and serving two years as President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club.'
Paddy was a charming and extremely courteous man with a ready wit, which ensured that he was in constant demand as a guest and a speaker at all manner of classic car events. Always the most generous of men with his time, he will be sorely missed and our condolences go to his family and friends, and to everybody whose life he touched.