Rosemary Smith in a Fraser Imp
1966 at Silverstone in a Fraser Imp
   Rootes PR photo Coupes des Alpes
Coupes des Alpes

The Imp Site

Rosemary Smith

7th Aug 1937, Dublin - 5th Dec 2023, Dublin

For results of the Works Imps see the overview (1964-1970). Rosemary Smith's career with Rootes included 21 finishes from 24 starts in Internationals, nine class wins and 12 Coupe des Dames.

From the comment to the video on the 1965 Alpine Rally:

"I have been driving international rallies for five years now, and for the past four years I have been with the Rootes Team as their regular contender for the Lady's Price. And actually, I've won that in about a dozen international events now."

From the comment to the video on the 1965 Scottish Rally: "[...] a 26 year old dress designer from Dublin." And it was true that Ms. Smith earned a living as a dress designer until she became a full-time rally driver and motoring journalist.

She came from a motoring family and her father taught her how to drive when she was no older than 11 years of age.


    Rosemary Smith - Fraser Imp
Rosemary enjoying herself, testing a Fraser Imp on a circuit - no competition numbers. Year unknown
Click for the original photo of which this is a detail.
 photo suplied by C. Dawson

Alan Fraser, as many others in 1963, looked at the Imp with some interest, impressed by the car's specifications and design. In the second half of 1964 he entered a virtually standard 875 Imp, with rally-modified suspension, for a couple of meetings with Rosemary Smith as driver - purely for test purposes.


Before the start
Scottisch Rally 1965
1965 Scottish Rally
Rosemary Smith 1965 Scottish Rally - a special stage
Rosemary Smith 1965 Scottish Rally
Sheila Taylor and Rosemary Smith, 1965 Scottish Rally
Rosemary Smith
1965 Scottish Rally, 1st stage
The photo to the right and the six small photos above were taken from the video.
   Rosemary Smith 1965 Scottish Rally, 1st stage

R. Smith & V. Domleo, 1965 Tulip rally
At the 1965 Tulip Rally
   Valerie Domleo and Rosemary Smith


Monte Carlo

Mlls Smith and Domleo, Monte Carlo 1966 - Alan Fraser     
Alan Fraser in a plaid tie, with his hand on the window, Rosemary and Valerie looking straight ahead again.  

   A few weeks after the 1965 Tulip rally, which she won outright, and a few weeks before the Scottish Rally, Ms. Smith was at Silverstone invited to take a round of honour, accompanied by 'Tiny' Lewis.    Rosemary Smith at Silverstone 1965

During the 1960s she won ladies awards in all the top international rallies, including the London-Sydney, the RAC and the Monte Carlo. In 1965 she was the outright winner of the Tulip Rally and was also chosen as the Texaco Sportstar of the Year.

des Dames

1965 Tulip Rally  if there was one ;-)   outright winner and first in G.T. category
1965 January, Monte Carlo rally   2nd
runner-up to Pat Moss-Carlsson
   fourth in class
1965 February, Int. Scottish rally   yes   
1965 November, RAC Int. Rally of Great Britain     2nd for the Ladies' Award  in the Hillman Imp team that won the Manufacturers Team Prize
1966 May, Shell 4000   yes  4,100 miles coast-to-coast across Canada
She also won her class and finished 8th overall.
1966 January, Monte Carlo rally   she did come first    but was disqualified in the controversial headlamps decision.
1966 Easter, Circuit of Ireland  yes   2nd in class, driving an Imp.
1966 May, Int. Acropolis Rally  yes    

It was in that Tulip Rally that Rosemary began her winning partnership with co-driver Val Domleo of Leamington Spa. Rosemary has firm views on the value of co-drivers. "They must share the driving," she says.

"Four years ago I had my worst crash when I went over a cliff, because of fatigue at the wheel."

Rosemary Smith 1966, July magazine
Summer 1966

"Driving is all psychological," she says. "You can overcome any difficulty if you set your mind to it."

The success and promiss of last year is carrying her through this year, too. Rosemary Smith came first in the Coupe des Dames in the Monte Carlo Rally, but was disqualified in the controversial headlamps decision.

At Easter, she won the ladies' prize in the Circuit of Ireland and was second in her class, also in an Imp.

A quietly-confident Rosemary, strolling across the tarmac towards a plane for Athens - and the 14th International Acropolis Rally in May - told me: "My only fear is that we might not finish - the heat has made it necessary to fit special carburettors..."
She finished right enough in her Imp - and brought back the Ladies' Prize when her great rival Pat Moss-Carlsson retired.

Rosemary Smith, 1966, Silverstone
Silverstone, autumn 1966

Nick Brittan wrote (December 1966):

Silverstone was the next stop, and for this meeting we had 'borrowed' Rosemary Smith from the rally department to run in the saloon car race. Over the past couple of seasons Rosemary has proved herself to be a force to be reckoned with on the tough rally grounds of Europe, and she has a great string of wins to prove it.

On the relatively smooth tarmac of Silverstone she shook everyone by posting fastest time in morning practice with a lap of 74.4 m.p.h. to take pole position on the grid for the race.

For three laps she led from a great challenge by Imp-man Tony Taylor and then her third gear broke. With only second and top as useable gears she dropped back a couple of seconds a lap, leaving Taylor to win.

Rosemary finished a good second despite the missing gear and we were all very impressed afterwards when she told us it was her first-ever ride at Silverstone.

JDU 48E Monte Carlo rally 1967
photogr.: Jaap ten Hoeve

With competition no. 9 in JDU 48E, Rosemary Smith and Valerie Domleo. 27 January 1967 in The Netherlands, maybe in The Hague.
They had an accident and didn't finish.


Rosemary Smith, December 1967
source: Thomas Lundevall @ (Aug 19 2008)
the cancelled 1967 RAC?

Results 1963 - summer 1967. She


Rosemary Smith (who signed the photo for Pieter at Imp50, Perth) and Alice Watson (Scotland)
Roger Willis, Castrol UK Competitions Manager - he was a Castrol Competition Rep since 1971. An obituary for him was published in Team Castrol News 1979, issue no. 5.


Rosemary Smith was made president of The Imp Club UK. She attends the club's main event every year.

At the International Historic Motor Sport Show (Stoneleigh, February 2004), Ms. Smith drove a Hillman Imp.


Autosport May 1965
Cover picture and main article on Hillman Imp, Reg. 8305 KV / Rosemary Smith & Valerie Domleo winning the 1965 Tulip Rally.
Report, results and pictures of the rally. Tulip Rally success adverts for Rootes; BMC; Lucas

RAC rally: Susan Reeves and Rosemary Smith. - Autocar 1965, November. - p.1154

Rallye Imp : given the works 4. - Autocar 1966 January 28. - p.190-192
An impression of Hillman Imp Rallye EDU 710C. This was the Imp driven by Rosemary Smith on the 1965 RAC Rally. It had a 998 with twin Strombergs, producing around 65bhp. Extra equipment included an alternator, twin ignition coils, heated windscreen, twin brake servos and an oil cooler mounted on the left-hand side of the engine bay, in front of the radiator and the fan. Performance was 0-60mph in 15 seconds, with a 92 mph top speed.
reprint in Impressions 3 (1983), 6 (July)

Miss Smith (jnr.) keeps an eye on Miss Smith (champ.). - Modern Motoring and Travel 1966, July. - p. 22-23
girl drivers in the news + they share a name + and courage

The editor talks to Rosemary Smith / Martyn Watkins. - Cars and Car Conversions 1966 September. - p.207

Fast Lady / Mark Dixon. - Popular Classics vol. 5 (1994), no. 12 (August). - pp. 66-71
Interview with Rosemary Smith.

Just Another Girl Called Smith? / Tony Dron. - Thoroughbred and Classic Cars vol. 21 (1994), no. 11 (August). - pp. 48-55
Interview with Rosemary Smith

Original Works Rally Imp - by David Finlay (04 Oct 02)

The Imp Site
   Competitive Imps
      Results of the Works Imps (1964-1970)
   Imp library
      magazine article: Rallye Imp : given the works 4

Files elsewhere:


Non-Imp info the academy runs the 'Think Awareness' transition year driving programme

In the 1963 Tour de France Rosemary Smith/ Margaret MacKenzie (Valerie Pirie) finished 10th overall, 3rd in class in a Sunbeam Alpine (car # 151). Ian Lewis/ David Pollard (/Chris Amon) finished 9th, 2nd in class in a Sunbeam Rapier. (car #54)

One of the three Sunbeam Tigers, which were making their competition debut on the 1964 Geneva Rally, was driven by Rosemary Smith (navigator: Margaret MacKenzie). All three cars proved reliable and were the only survivors from their GT class.

She drove, together with Smokey Drolett, a Sunbeam Alpine at the 24-hour race at Daytona, U.S.A., winning the ladies' event, finishing 30th overall.