5 Minutes With Legendary Rally Driver Rosemary Smith

The Irish icon would do the driving all over again.

The rally driver talks life, loves and the open road... 

Her transition to the sport happened quite naturally (and unexpectedly) as she tells Irish Tatler.  

Your transition from a model and dress designer to rally driving was quite something – tell us about deciding to pursue a career behind the wheel?

I always enjoyed driving but it was one of my clients in the fashion business that asked me to accompany her on a rally. After that, I was bitten by the bug!

What has surprised you most about your career in the sport?

I was genuinely surprised at how good I was, once I got behind the wheel. Having been taught by my father who was an amateur racing driver, I suppose it was an inherited gene.

Is there anything you would go back and do again? Why/Why not?

I would certainly go back and do all the driving part again but I would not repeat a lot of my personal life!

You more than held your own in a sport that was male-dominated, did you come up against hurdles because of your gender in this way, and how did you deal with them?

Yes, I came up against lots and lots of hurdles in that respect.

The only way I could deal with it was to go out and show that women could drive and beat the male competitors.

How do you feel rally driving has changed for women in the sport?

Thankfully, it has changed dramatically and women nowadays know how to deal with discrimination and stand their ground in a way that I never knew how to.

What advice would you give to other young women wanting to get into sports but who perhaps are lacking confidence?

Whatever their sport you must first make sure you really have a passion for it and ensure that you have some ability that you can then nurture regardless of obstacles that may stand in the way.

Reach for your dreams in an empowered way and don't let anyone stop you!

What’s the one thing in your life that makes a hectic day a little easier?

Having spent 18months with Ann Ingle writing my book "Driven" I now spend time giving talks around the country. At my age, I have a wonderful life now, busy all the time, and as a Brand Ambassador for Renault Ireland, I can drive my lovely Mégane, which gives me pleasure every day.

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