Irish rallying icon Rosemary Smith passes away

Rosie Smith’s co-driver and friend Pauline Gullick remembers a life very well lived

Rosie Smith

Rosemary Smith 07.08.37 – 05.12.2023

Rosemary Smith has reached the final time control after a long battle with cancer.

When I last spoke with her she was her normal vibrant self, saying, “It is what it is. I cannot change it.”

A model, dress designer, TV personality, driving instructor, race and rally driver. What a life she led.

Rosie Pauline

I shared Rosie’s life for over 50 years, having met her on the 1969 Scottish Rally. Our first rally together was the 1972 Welsh Rally. We shared many successes, the greatest [came] in winning the Ladies’ Award and finishing 16th overall on the East African Safari Rally in 1974.

Dress was always important to Rosie. We wore matching outfits in and out of the car. Wherever we went in Ireland she was recognised. Some lady.

As an ambassador for Renault Ireland she was asked if she had any ambitions.

“To drive a Formula 1 car.”

Six years ago, her dream came true when she was invited to the Paul Ricard Circuit to drive a Renault F1 car during a test session with Alain Prost and Jolyon Palmer. Once again Rosie made history when she became the oldest person to drive a F1 car, just before her 80th birthday.

I was invited to this session as a surprise guest, taking her helmet to her as she was preparing to get into the car.

We have shared tears and jubilation over the years. Many Irish and international awards for her motorsport and business achievements sit in her lounge. I was fortunate to share many of these presentations and felt very humbled to be part of her life.

With no children of her own she supported underage youngsters in teaching them the necessary skills to become confident and competent drivers.

Her autobiography Driven was published in 2018, recalling her greatest achievements – not least winning the Tulip Rally in 1965 driving a Hillman Imp. A life of adventure.

I have too many memories to ever forget my friend.

Pauline x

Words:Pauline Gullick