ONE of the world's most famous female race drivers will lead the cars off from Paisley at the Monte Carlo Classic Rally.

Dublin dress-maker Rosemary Smith, now 76, rose to fame in 1965 when she defeated her male rivals to win the Tulip Rally.

She become only the second contracted international female rally driver of her time, alongside Pat Moss, ­sister of Formula One legend, Stirling Moss.

Ms Smith will lead the classic cars on their 2688km journey to the French Riviera from Paisley Abbey.

The veteran's career kicked off after the 1962 race from Blythswood Square in Glasgow.

She said: "I competed in the rally about eight times, three times from Glasgow. It's great to be coming back.

Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan said: "We are sure the event will be a fantastic spectacle."

The race starts on January 23.