5 October 2018

Rosemary Smith's life story is 'Driven'

Rosemary Smith with writer Ann Ingle (left), at the launch of 'Driven'.
There's a script on a roof beam in the Jameson Distillery centre in Bow Street, 'A good story cannot be devised, it must be distilled', writes Trish Whelan. That quote from Raymond Chandler seemed particularly apt when legendary rally ace Rosemary Smith's life story was launched there last evening.

Recognised internationally for her outstanding achievements in the world of motorsport, 'Driven' is the story of Rosemary's amazing life from starting as a dress designer to discovering the joys of motorsport and taking part in rallies across the globe.

A huge gathering of family, friends, fellow motor sport enthusiasts and well-wishers — including Dublin Lord Mayor Cllr Nial Ring — came together to celebrate the launch of ‘Driven’, written with Ann Ingle.

Author and motorsport enthusiast Paul Howard, of Ross O’Carroll-Kelly fame, did the launch honours.

In a foreword in ‘Driven’, Formula 1 legend Eddie Jordan describes Rosemary as ‘a pioneer for women in motorsport’ and said hers is a remarkable story of a lifetime of success at the very highest level in one of the most male-dominated sports on the planet.

She took part in the Monte Carlo Rally eight times, winning the Coupe des Dames on several occasions, as well as competing in many famous rallies all over the world. These included the London to Sydney Marathon Rally in 1968, the World Cup London to Mexico Rally in 1970 and the East African Safari Rally in the 1970s. She also famously won the Tulip Rally in Holland outright, and to date is the only woman to have done so.

Eoin McHugh, Rosemary’s editor at publishers HarperCollins, said she has been 'a phenomenal trailblazer for women'. "We are delighted to have had the opportunity to publish her unique and inspirational story," he said, adding that her co-author Ann Ingle has done an amazing job in faithfully capturing Rosemary’s voice and her personality, and the drama and courage that she showed throughout her career.

Paul Howard recalled reading a book as a schoolboy, 'Legends of Irish Sport', and alone amongst all the men mentioned was a picture of a very glamorous Rosemary Smith, sitting on the bonnet of her Hillman Imp about to set off on some brand new adventure. "You got a sense of a woman who was absolutely determined to define herself in her own terms. A woman who was never going to be told what to do, or what not to do.

"The stories she tells are from a time when the world was full of mystery. She drove across the Alps, the Serengeti, and the Khyber Pass, and faced down danger with the fearlessness that is the mark of the woman. Rosemary is someone who has always met life and tragedies full on, has such a competitive spirit and is a lesson to us all in how to grow old gracefully while at the same time not losing any of our inner fire and love for life.”

Rosemary thanked everyone for coming along to the launch, including ‘all my wonderful friends, all the motoring people, and everybody I’ve met along the way who has encouraged me to tell my story’. “I am indebted to the RIAC, especially Alex Sinclair and Arthur Collier, my old friend Eddie Jordan for his generous foreword, and to Paddy Magee of Renault Ireland for his support and for giving me the amazing opportunity to represent them as brand ambassador, and for helping me make history." Last year, in her 80th year, Rosemary did a test drive in the Renault F1 car on the Circuit Paul Ricard, becoming the oldest person to drive the 800bhp race car.

She paid special tribute to Ann Ingle without whom she said her book would never have been written. 'Driven' is dedicated to Rosemary's life-long friend, the late Patricia Doyle.

Ann Ingle said working with Rosemary had been a privilege and an unforgettable experience. “It was sometimes difficult to get things out of Rosemary, she is so modest. The experience of being her 'Mrs Ghost', as she calls me, was a challenging one, but all those hours we spent together in the RIAC paid off.”

Lord Mayor Cllr Nial Ring said the word ‘legend’ describes Rosemary to perfection as she is 'a pioneer and inspiration to all and a magnificent role model for women'.