Paddy Hopkirk wins the Guild of Motoring Writers President’s Trophy
The Guild of Motoring Writers President’s Trophy
This is awarded each year by the Guild President Nick Mason for outstanding achievement in the field of international automobilism.
Winner – Patrick Barron Hopkirk MBE!
Known to everyone as Paddy, the Belfast born racer cut his teeth in racing at an early age using an Austin 7 Chummy Tourerto make his rally debut while attending Trinity College Dublin where he was studying engineering.
Bitten by the competition bug he dropped out of university and starter working for a Volkswagen assembler’s retail operation where he was able to purchase a string ofVW Beetles to enter various racing disciplines.
His first victory came in 1953 at the Cairn castle hillclimb- this eventually led to a professional rally career which started in 1955 with a class win on the Circuit of Ireland on his way to becoming the most successful Irish rally driver of the Year-a title he went on to win three times.
Having graduated to a Triumph TR2, Paddy was offered his first factory drive in a Standard Ten for the 1956 RAC Rally. The following year he joined the Rootes Group as a works driver inheriting the Hillman Husky for the Safari Rally that had been intended for Mike Hawthorn before he was killed in a road accident.
His success continued with two wins on the Circuit of Ireland and third on the 1962 Monte Carlo Rally in a Sunbeam Rapier before moving to the BMC team making his debut in an Austin-Healey 3000 on the Liege-Soifia–Liege Rally.
His first outing in a Mini was the 1963 Monte Carlo where he finished sixth. A year later, partnered by Henry Liddon, Paddy took his Mini CooperS to victory on the event which immediately made him a household name. Subsequently his rallying career that took him around the world including contesting the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon where he gave up a potential victory to pull another crew from a burning car after an accident.
He continued to compete in various events over the years and also created his own brand of automotive accessories; became a keen supporter of Wheel Power, a charity promoting wheelchair sport; an lAM RoadSmart Mature Drivers’ ambassador and, in 2016, was awarded the MBE.
Most recently he has been a very active president of the British Racing Drivers Club involved in promoting the BRDC Superstars programme and helping to forge closer links between the BRDC and the Guild of Motoring Writers.
Paddy went on to add of the honour that it’s, “Probably the most valued surprise award I have ever had the honour of receiving. From the long-term backbone of the UK motoring journalists. I’m a very lucky old guy with a wonderful supporting family.”