Patterson, son of Wimbledon champion Gerald Patterson, attended his father's school, Scotch College, Melbourne, from 1931 to 1934, and Geelong Grammar School from 1935 to 1941. He was one of a brace of new drivers that emerged after World War II, first appearing in the Australian Grand Prix in 1948 driving a stripped down MG TC. After improving the MG as far as he was able, he moved to a JAP powered Cooper Mk.V in 1953. Patterson used this to win his first national title, the 1954 Australian Hillclimb Championship.
In the scorching heat of a Western Australian summer in 1957, Patterson stepped into Lex Davison's Ferrari 625 F1 as a relief driver, working together to defeat Stan Jones to win the 1957 Australian Grand Prix.
A succession of grand prix Coopers followed. The biggest year of Patterson's career was 1961. Victories at Mount Panorama, Lowood, Caversham and a second at Longford saw Patterson dominate the 1961 Australian Drivers' Championship, scoring 51 points to Lex Davison's 15 to win the Gold Star.
Patterson raced on for a few more years and took part in the inaugural Tasman Series in 1964, but after that Patterson stepped away from the sport as a driver, but stayed as an entrant, sponsor and team boss. Patterson Holden dealership Bill Patterson Motors supported several drivers over the following decades, open wheelers for the rest of the 1960s and on into the 1970s. In 1977 Patterson purchased touring car racing team, which he ran for a year. Patterson's name continued to be seen in the sport into the 2000s in Speedway racing.
On 28 November 1984, Patterson was put on a 1-year good behaviour bond for the importation of obscene material - video tapes of child porn which he had created himself in an unspecified foreign country. Patterson produced the material when overseas and then took it with him when entering Australia. Detectives raided his Toorak home where they viewed the child porn on a video recorder. At the time, there were no laws against the possession of child porn, but the importation of obscene material was an offence. The judge in the case, Mr Ian Griffiths SM, denied a petition from Patterson's lawyer, Mr Robert Galbally, to have his client's name suppressed.
Patterson died at Sandringham on 10 January 2010 at the age of 86.
|Season||Race / Series||Position||Car||Team|
|1956||Moomba TT||7th||MGA||Bill Patterson|
|1957||Australian Drivers' Championship||4th||Ferrari 625 F1
Cooper T39 Climax
|1957||Victorian Tourist Trophy||3rd||Cooper Coventry Climax||Bill Patterson Motors P/L|
|1959||Australian Drivers' Championship||4th||Cooper T43 Climax||Bill Patterson Motors P/L|
|1960||Australian Drivers' Championship||3rd||Cooper T51 Climax||Bill Patterson Motors P/L|
|1961||Australian Drivers' Championship||1st||Cooper T51 Climax||Bill Patterson Motors P/L|
|1962||Australian Drivers' Championship||3rd||Cooper T51 Climax||Bill Patterson Motors P/L|
|1963||Australian Drivers' Championship||6th||Cooper T51 Climax
Cooper T53 Climax
|Bill Patterson Motors P/L|
- Howard, Graham (1986). "1957". In Howard, Graham (ed.). The Official 50-race history of the Australian Grand Prix. Gordon, NSW: R & T Publishing. pp. 228–235. ISBN 0-9588464-0-5.
- D. Shaw. "The Early CAMS Gold Star Series 1957-70: 1961". Archived from the original on 1 April 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
- Fernley, Olga (28 November 1984). "Man put on bond for child porn videos". The Age. p. 31. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
- "Vale - Gerald William "Bill" Patterson". cams.com.au. 14 January 2010. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2010.