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Rosemary Smith, 79, drives a Renault Formula One Car13 Jul 2017

RS - Rosemary Smith and Renault Sport

At Fuss Free Phones we are all about making the most of your life. We think of the phrase “years full of life, not life full of years”, and while we do it with easy to use, big button mobile phones, Rosemary Smith has a much more dramatic way of filling her life.

At 79 years old, Rosemary Smith is proving age is just a number as she fulfils her lifelong dream of driving an F1  car.

As part of Renault Sport Formula One™ Team’s 40th Anniversary celebrations, the team at Renault UK saw an opportunity to make this dream come true for the rally-driver, arranging for her to get behind the wheel of a Renault Sport Formula One™ Team car, while also comparing notes with their driver, Jolyon Palmer.

Rosemary initially trained as a seamstress and opened her own dress shop, which unexpectedly became her route into the world of motorsport when one of her clients invited her to navigate in a rally. However, it wasn’t long before the Dublin-born craver of excitement switched to driving and the silverware soon followed.

The Irish racer competed in some of the most iconic rallies around the world, taking home many trophies despite disqualifications and people looking to hold her back in the notoriously male-dominated sport.  A particularly poignant victory was the famous Tulip Rally, which she won in 1965, an achievement which made not only the motorsport world take notice but also Hollywood, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton sending her a huge bouquet and congratulatory letter.

After years competing and winning at the highest level in world rallying, Rosemary set up her own driving school using Renault Clios and for the past two decades has campaigned for young driver education to be introduced in schools across the country.

Despite these achievements, Rosemary never got the chance to partake in arguably the greatest motorsport experience – driving a Renault Sport Formula One™ Team car – until now.

With encouragement from long-term friend and navigator, Pauline Gullick, in addition to Palmer, Rosemary soon got to grips with the single-seater, increasing her confidence with every lap of the renowned Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, southern France.

Speaking of the experience Rosemary said: “Driving an 800bhp car is something I, like many other racers, have always dreamt of but I didn’t think I’d ever have the opportunity to do it, so when the team at Renault UK contacted me I jumped at the chance. It was definitely very different to the rally cars I’m used to but was an amazing experience. I could feel myself getting more and more comfortable with the single-seater and being able to speak to Jolyon, driver to driver, also helped when the nerves did kick in.





And you could experience the very, very rare thrill of driving an F1 car. Anyone who test drives a Renault at a dealerships will be entered into a draw to be one of ten lucky winners who will follow in Rosemary’s tyre tracks and get behind the wheel of a Renault Sport Formula One™ Team car.

If you do, let us know. We’d just complain that the buttons on the steering wheel are too small.


Simon Rockman