Tributes have been paid to Irish Motorsport legend Rosemary Smith after she died yesterday.
The 86-year-old former rally car driver passed away at the Beacon Hospital following a battle with cancer.
One of her most famous achievements was winning the Dutch Tulip Rally in 1965, becoming the first woman to do so.
Tributes were led by Michael D Higgins this week who described the Dubliner as a "fearless and remarkable" sportsperson.
She was also remembered for her ‘incredible character’ on The Pat Kenny Show today.
Sunday Independent motoring editor Ger Herbert said Ms Smith was one of the first women to find success in the world of motorsports.
“With her, it wasn’t even a feminist thing, it was just ‘Why wouldn’t I do it,’” she said.
“She never saw a reason why women couldn’t compete on the same level as men and that was it.
“That was the driving force behind everything she did and she really was an incredible character.”
Ms Herbert said Smith had an interest in rally driving from a young age.
“Rosemary Smith began driving when she was only 11 and got her license at 16,” she said.
“You weren’t supposed to get your license until 17 but she told them she was a year older. They said ‘fine’ and off she went.”
Driving was a labour of love from the beginning.
“The thing about Rosemary was she was a very self-conscious and painfully shy teenager and I think driving gave her a whole new outlet,” said Ms Herbert.
“Driving was such a newfound freedom for her and she just loved it from the beginning.”
Ms Herbert said a career glittering with success soon followed.
“Once behind the wheel she realised ‘This is where I need to be,’” she said.
“[Rosemary] competed in six Monte Carlo rallies, the Scottish and Geneva rallies, the Circuit of Ireland, the Tour de France – she did it all.
“She travelled the world driving and had some amazing experiences and stories to tell from it.”
Ms Herbert said one story best sums up the escapades of Rosemary Smith.
“In the London to Sydney rally she discovered a mechanical issue in her vehicle where pistons were damaged and it wouldn’t go forward,” she said.
“The ever-resourceful Rosemary remembered that her father always told her, if a car can’t go forward it can go in reverse.
“So, she literally completed the last 33-mile stage in reverse of the race.”
Ms Smith was inducted into the FIVA (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens) Hall of Fame just last year.
She also holds the record of the oldest person to drive a Formula 1 car when she did so in 2019 at 79 years of age.
Main Image: Rosemary Smith at Goodwood Revival, Sussex, UK in 1965. Image: Alamy Stock Photo