seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Birth of Rally Driver Rosemary Smith

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Rosemary Smith, Ireland’s most successful female rally driver, is born in Dublin on August 7, 1937. Before embarking on a career as a rally driver, she initially trains as a dress designer.

Smith enters her first rally as a co-driver. After deciding that navigating is not to her liking, she switches to driving. She comes to the attention of the Rootes Group‘s Competition Department, which offers her a works drive.

In 1964, Smith takes the ladies’ prize on the Circuit of Ireland Rally driving a Sunbeam Rapier. The following year she wins the Tulip Rally outright in a Hillman Imp.

Smith is controversially disqualified from the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally after winning the Coupe des Dames, the ladies’ class. Ten cars in total are disqualified. She says she will never compete again unless the decision is reversed.

Smith’s other competition successes include an outright win in the 1969 Cork 20 Rally. She has won the ladies’ prize several times on the Scottish Rally and on the Circuit of Ireland Rally, twice each on the Alpine Rally and on the Canadian Shell 4000 and once on the Acropolis Rally. She also has numerous class wins to her name.

In 1966, Smith appears as a guest on an episode of What’s My Line? Arlene Francis, Mark Goodson, Ginger Rogers, and Bennett Cerf are on the panel and successfully guess her “line” as a rally driver.

Smith founds a driving school in the 1990s. On May 10, 2017, she does a test drive with the show car of Renault F1 on the Circuit Paul Ricard as part of a filming day. This makes her the oldest person to have driven an 800bhp racing car.

(Pictured: Rosemary Smith at the Rally de Monte Carlo in 1965)


Author: Jim Doyle

As a descendant of Joshua Doyle (b. 1775, Dublin, Ireland), I have a strong interest in Irish culture and history, which is the primary focus of this site. I am a Network Engineer at The Computer Hut, LLC, which is my salaried job. I am a member of the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (2010-Present, President 2011-2017) and a commissioner on the City of Little Rock Arts+Culture Commission (2015-2020, 2021-Present, Chairman 2017-2018).

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