Baroness Jean Denton; Car Racer

From Times Wire Services

Baroness Jean Denton, a champion rally car driver, businesswoman and former government official in Northern Ireland, has died at 65.

She died Monday of cancer, her family said.

After getting a driver's license at the age of 26, Denton developed a taste for competition. She was the female British racing champion in 1967 and 1968. In 1969, she drove the only sports car to finish the London-Sydney rally. And a year later, she led the first private women's team to reach the World Cup Rally's finish in Mexico.

Denton made her mark in business by marketing cars to women, rose to be managing director of Herondrive, a car leasing business, and in 1985 was appointed external affairs director of the auto maker Austin Rover.

She was appointed to the House of Lords in 1991, then headed small-business programs at the Department of Trade and Industry. In 1994 she was named economic minister in Northern Ireland, serving until the Conservatives lost the 1997 election.

She was a founder of Women on the Move Against Cancer, and Forum U.K., the British branch of the International Women's Forum.

Born Jean Moss in Yorkshire, she was divorced in 1974 from Anthony Denton. She is survived by her sister, a niece and nephews.

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