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Remembering Rosemary Smith, a Trailblazer in the Automotive World

With the sad news of Rosemary Smith’s passing, Females in Motorsport want to pay tribute to a true trailblazer in the automotive work.

In the realm of the automotive industry, a few names shine brightly for their exceptional contributions, unyielding determination, and ground-breaking achievements. Among these luminaries, Rosemary Smith’s name stands tall. With a career spanning decades, Smith’s remarkable journey is one that has left an indelible mark on both motorsports and gender equality within a traditionally male-dominated field.

Early Beginnings

Rosemary Smith’s story began in Dublin, Ireland, where she was born in 1937. Her early years were marked by a fascination with cars and a keen interest in motorsports. While societal norms of the time often confined women to more traditional roles, Smith was determined to break the mould. Her affinity for cars led her to become a driving instructor, a profession that laid the foundation for her future achievements.

Breaking Barriers

In the 1960s, Rosemary Smith catapulted into the spotlight when she entered and triumphed in numerous rally competitions. Most notably, her victory at the 1965 Tulip Rally was a watershed moment, as she became the first woman to win a major international rally event. This ground-breaking achievement shattered stereotypes and opened doors for women in motorsports worldwide. Smith’s exceptional driving skills and fierce determination demonstrated unequivocally that gender was no barrier to success on the race track.

A Remarkable Partnership

One of the defining chapters in Rosemary Smith’s career was her collaboration with the Renault factory team. Smith’s driving prowess caught the attention of the team’s manager, who recognized her talent and offered her the opportunity to drive for Renault. This partnership was a turning point, as Smith’s association with the team led to several victories, cementing her status as a force to be reckoned with in the world of motorsports.

Legacy of Empowerment

Beyond her victories on the track, Rosemary Smith’s legacy is equally defined by her commitment to empowering women in motorsports. She went on to establish the Rosemary Smith School of Driving, a venture aimed at teaching advanced driving techniques to individuals from all walks of life. Smith’s dedication to promoting road safety and providing a platform for aspiring female racers continues to inspire generations.

At the remarkable age of 79, Rosemary Smith etched her name into the annals of motorsport history once again, as she fearlessly took the wheel of a Renault Formula 1 car, making her the oldest person to ever drive a modern Formula 1 car. Her audacious endeavour showcased an unwavering spirit and a passion that transcended age. With a determined grin, she navigated the sleek machine around the track, proving that limits were meant to be challenged. Rosemary’s awe-inspiring drive not only celebrated her lifelong dedication to racing but also served as a symbol of empowerment for generations to come, reminding the world that the pursuit of dreams knows no age.


Rosemary Smith’s decorated career serves as a beacon of inspiration for anyone striving to overcome obstacles and achieve greatness. Her journey from a young girl with a passion for cars to an international rally champion and a pioneer for gender equality stands as a testament to the power of determination and resilience. As the automotive world evolves, Rosemary Smith’s legacy continues to remind us that breaking barriers is not only about reaching the finish line first, but also about paving the way for others to follow.

She will be missed immensely, but her legacy will live on for decades to come.


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