From 8 to 17 October 2020, the Rebelle Rally celebrated its fifth edition by letting its Ladies do what they do best: travel over 2000 km in off-road vehicle to cross the American West with the only help of maps and compass.
Story by Paolo Baraldi and Rebelle Rally media - photography by Rebelle Rally media
Organized by a special woman for special women!
In 2016 Emily Miller created the first edition of the Rebelle Rally, the first all-female off-road navigation competition in the United States.
The concept of this competition is very simple: to combine the love of off-road driving with old-style navigation where the use of any electronic device such as GPS and mobile phones is prohibited.
Rebelle, "If it was easy, everyone would do it"
The Rebelle Rally is a unique experience, an experience that tests the women who participate in it and that most likely changes them forever!
The Rebelle Rally, as Emily says, is not easy and this is the first awareness of her Ladies. The Rebelle is difficult, not because to orient the Ladies must use maps and compass without the help of modern electronic devices, which are strictly banned, but because first they have to deeply believe in themselves, in their own abilities and in those of his own adventure teammate. In the car between driver and co-pilote a deep synergy, understanding and bond is created that goes beyond the race; a bond that remains for life.
Secondly, the Rabelle Rally is difficult because for the entire duration of the race the Ladies are isolated from the rest of the world, they are out of their comfort zone and are deprived of the affection of their family members.
And finally, in addition to all this, let's not forget that this is an offroad competition through the harsh deserts of the American west and on the challenging dunes of Glamis.
Only a woman can do it!
This is the Rebelle Rally! This is the meaning of "If it was easy, everyone would do it" and this is why the Rebelle Ladies have all my respect because, as a man, I would say that we boys will never be able to compete with their own determination, concentration and ability.
Rebelle Rally 2020, over 2000 km across the real American west
All this happened once again from 8 to 17 October 2020. From Lake Tahoe (in the heart of the Sierra Nevada in California on the border with Nevada), where the registration and technical checks took place, up to the Glamis dunes (on the border with Mexico) passing through the most iconic places in the American west.
How Is The Rebelle Managing The Pandemic?
“If someone were to design an off-road event from scratch to operate in the COVID era, it would likely look a lot like the Rebelle Rally.
- We have tested all competitors and staff through Orca Health.
- We are following CDC guidelines and recommendations.
- We have examined all areas of the rally to remove crowding issues and create best practices.
- We are a small, outdoor, remote event with no spectators allowed.
- We are self-contained to prevent community contact.”
2020 Rebelle Rally Tech Inspection
Now in its fifth year, the Rebelle Rally is a driving and navigation rally that spans over ten days and 1,500 miles across the wilds of Nevada and California, making it the longest competitive off-road navigation rally in the United States. Teams from around North America have converged at Valhalla to take part in the annual rally. Not just part of Norse mythology, Valhalla is an actual historic venue on the shores of Lake Tahoe where technical inspection took place in the wide expanses of the property grounds, with teams entering one at a time at specific intervals to receive their Iridium satellite phones, Yellow Brick trackers, and to apply team numbers to their vehicles. The Yellow Brick trackers allow live tracking of team positions on course, and this year promises live daily commentary as well from hosts Katy Kunkel and Matthew Johnson at Live.
The event once again starts on the shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe and ends in the sprawling Imperial Sand Dunes, but the route is entirely new to challenge the 36 teams. Rebelle Rally founder Emily Miller and Course Director Jimmy Lewis have spent years working tirelessly with national, state, and local agencies in order to access the areas used in the rally. “The dedication of our staff and the actions of our teams are the only way this is possible,” Miller explained.
Thirty-six teams are split between the 4×4 and X-Cross classes, with champions crowned in both classes. Competitors are vying for a free entry for the 2021 rally, customized Rebelle Suunto compasses and, of course, bragging rights. Additionally, there are special designations for Bone Stock, Rookie of the Year, International Cup, 4040, Team Spirit, and Electrified. The Team Spirit Award is given to the team that displays the best attitude, helps others, and defines the Rebelle spirit, as selected by their fellow competitors. It is searching for solutions, proving encouragement and treating others with respect and enthusiasm, which ultimately results in fostering a spirited competitive climate. This team will have $5,000 donated to their selected charity in their name.
As the name implies, the Bone Stock Award is for the best finisher in a vehicle that is exactly as delivered from the factory. All parts must be OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). No modifications are allowed beyond aftermarket wheels and tires. The Rebelle Rally has become a proving ground for OEMs, with factory entries from nine manufacturers this year including Jeep, Ford, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Kia, Nissan, Infiniti, Ram, and Rivian.
The Electrified Designation is new for 2020, an authentic challenge for electric (EV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and hybrids. The EV and PHEV teams do not compete in a separate class, but directly in their intended class with allowances for on course rapid charging. 2020 is designed as a test of the program with a limited number of vehicles debuting from Rivian and Mitsubishi. The Rebelle Rally is partnered with Power Innovations, the industry leader in the development and deployment of consumer and corporate green power solutions, to provide on-course BEV 175 KW fast charging for the Electrified vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells to power the remote base camps.
2020 Rebelle Rally Day 0 – Prologue
Although the first vehicle did not leave the line until 9 AM this morning, Rebelles were awoken by Emily Miller’s now infamous cowbell at the dark and chilly hour of 5 AM at Day 0 of the fifth annual Rebelle Rally. The day began with rally school, hosted by Rebelle Rally founder Miller, Course Director Jimmy Lewis, and Scoring Director Chrissie Beavis to explain the finer details of the event before starting the prologue. What is a prologue? Considered “Day 0” at the Rebelle Rally, the prologue allows teams to get a feel for the competition format at the rally in an unscored day of competition consisting of the two key elements of the event: navigating to checkpoints via coordinates plotted on a map and navigated to with a compass; and a Rebelle Enduro Challenge (REC) where the goal is to read navigation notes from a road book and cover a route as close as possible to the target time listed in the road book.
The 36 teams left the line in two-minute intervals from the remote base camp located outside Tonopah, Nevada and climbed to Emigrant Pass, where they were rewarded with an expansive view of the White Mountains. These views are not only breathtaking, they also serve as useful visual markers when navigating on a heading. There were 10 Control Points (CPs) along the prologue over 182 kilometers; Day 1 will offer 18 CPs over 218 kilometers.
Tomorrow Team Jeep Thrills- #177 will be first off the line on Day 1 at 7 AM, with the starting order based on enduro results from the prologue. Day One starts with a climbing twisting REC through the Monte Cristo Mountains. Upon finishing the Enduro, teams take off into the high desert area with a number of navigation points they can use to ensure they nail their route, assuming the peaks are not overly obscured by smoke. The route takes teams onto Kibby Dry Lake Bed before turning west and winding its way to the Pittsburgh mining site. Located within the bounds of the ancient Great Basin, the final section of the course contains particularly stunning terrain as teams enter Fish Lake Valley, with epic colorful landscapes that will distract as well as serve as helpful navigation points.
Note that we called the Rebelle Rally a competition, not a race. While a race is a type of competition, not every competition is a race. Success at the Rebelle Rally is determined by navigational accuracy, driving prowess, and time management.
2020 Rebelle Rally Day 1 - Tonopah Loop
If Day 1 of the fifth Rebelle Rally taught us anything, it is just how tight of a competition we can expect in 2020. Out of a total of 200 points accumulated on the first scored day of the rally, the top ten teams are all within 5% of each other in the 4×4 Class. Team 4 Corners – #129 posted the top score of the day in their Bone Stock Ram Power Wagon. Just one point behind Nena Barlow and Tana White is last year’s 4×4 winners, Rachelle Croft and Taylor Pawley of the Xelles – Team #100 who lead throughout the entire rally in 2019; don’t expect that to happen again this year. Two points behind the leaders are both 2017 champions Kaleigh Miller and Teralin Petereit of Team Blondetourage – #125 in their Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and 2018 winners Emme Hall and Rebecca Donaghe of Team Killer Watt – #140 in their Rivian RT1. While veterans dominated the top of the leader board, Team Ponderosa – #146 were the top scoring rookie team on Day 1, currently in 7th place out of 30 vehicles in the 4×4 Class.
In the X-Cross Class, Team GOAT – #201 (Shelby Hall/Penny Dale) in their Ford Bronco Sport are tied with Team Telluriders – #204 (Alyssa Roenigk/Sabrina Howells) in their Kia Telluride. Rachael Ridenour/Kristie Levy of Team Record The Journey – #207 rounded out the top three X-Cross Class in their PHEV Mitsubishi Outlander. Team Recalibrate – #219 (Sydney Stevenson/Kaitlin Mason) are currently the leading rookies in the X-Cross Class in fourth place.
The day started with an on time Rebelle Enduro Challenge (REC) before teams navigated their way to 18 Check Points (CPs). Four of those CPs consisted of two options, with the harder option being worth more points. Team 4 Corners #129 had a near perfect day, reaching all of the more difficult options along the course on their way back to Base Camp. The camp outside Tonopah contains, amongst other things, sanitized mobile showers and bathrooms, a remote fueling truck, a full mobile repair station, and a food truck staffed by Michelin star chef Drew Deckman and his talented crew from Deckman’s in Guadalupe Valley, Baja, Mexico. Dinner consisted of Deanna’s Gluten Free flatbread, quinoa stuffed peppers, fresh salad, and Dutch apple pie for dessert in the desert.
Team Jeep Thrills – #177 will be first off the line for Day 2 at 7 AM, chosen by random draw. The day is nearly twice as long as Day 1 at 417 kilometers, making it the longest stage of the rally. Stage 2 begins with a long on time Rebelle Enduro Challenge (REC) into California to the breathtaking Owens Valley before heading to Big Pine. Teams will search out CPs in the shadow of Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the Lower 48 at 14,505 feet. While the views are stunning, teams will be using the massive features as navigation aids in an effort to locate the 19 CPs scattered throughout the course. As they near Olancha the competitors will see their first sand and enjoy a fun section of the course marked with twisting hard pack sandy roads, massive Joshua Trees, and the peaks of the Eastern Sierras in the navigator’s window in an on route REC covering 123 kilometers. The day ends at Base Camp Two outside of Ridgecrest, California at the Spangler Open OHV Area.
2020 Rebelle Rally Day 2 – Tonopah to Ridgecrest
Teams arrived at Base Camp 2 well after sunset on the longest stage of the 2020 Rebelle Rally. Day 2 saw the standings shaken up in both the 4×4 and X-Cross Classes, with fatigue and time management emerging as crucial components of the day. Day 1 winners Team 4 Corners – #129 (Nena Barlow / Tana White) in 4×4 and Team Telluriders – #205 (Sabrina Howells/Alyssa Roenigk) in X-Cross both made costly errors that saw them slide in the overall standings. Team Killer Watt – #140 (Emme Hall/Rebecca Donaghe) capitalized on the situation to take the win in 4×4 on Stage 2 and move atop the overall standings. Despite the pressure of being followed by a full production crew to document their rally piloting the Rivian R1T, Team Killer Watt maintained their cool to edge out Team Blondetourage – #125 (Kaleigh Miller/Teralin Petereit) on Stage 2.
Stage 2 began with an on time Rebelle Enduro Challenge (REC) out of camp past Silver Peak and through the White Mountains. The 417-kilometer course passed in the shadow of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the Lower 48 at 14,505 feet. Teams saw their first sand at Olancha Dunes and passed through the Joshua Tree forest at Cactus Flat on their way to Base Camp 2 at Spangler Open OHV Area.
In the X-Cross Class, Team GOAT – #201 (Shelby Hall/Penny Dale) edged out Team Record the Journey – #207 (Rachael Ridenour/Kristie Levy) to maintain the overall lead in the standings in their 2020 Ford Bronco Sport. Team Horse Power – #203 (Elana Scherr/Betsy Anderson) came in third for the day but Team Recalibrate – #219 (Sydney Stevenson/Kaitlin Mason) are still in third in the overall standings behind Team GOAT and Record the Journey.
Team Sassquatch Rebelles – #184 (Eliza Coleman/Kendra Miller) will be first off the line at 7 AM, based on a random draw. The live show will start at 7:30 AM from the course on Facebook, YouTube, and the Rebelle Rally website. The day starts by challenging teams’ precision roadbook skills in an “Extreme Enduro” that takes them onto the steep terrain that overlooks Base Camp 2. Stage 3 covers less than half the distance of Stage 2, but it has the most CPs of any day on the 2020 Rally. Day 3 has traditionally been when the competition gets serious at the Rebelle Rally, and 2020 will be no exception. The dirt roads of Nevada give way to criss-crossed paths in every direction at Spangler and Dove Springs Open OHV areas, complicating the navigation. From Kelso Valley, Rebelles return to Base Camp through the stunning colors of Red Rock OHV Area, staying on public lands.
2020 Rebelle Rally Day 3 – Ridgecrest Loop
Day 3 of the Rebelle Rally started with an on route Rebelle Enduro Challenge (REC) right out of the Base Camp. Teams were shown the road book briefly ahead of time but then did not actually receive the road book until they were at the start line at 7 AM. The course challenged driver, navigator, and vehicle alike through steep, loose climbs and sheer drops that rattled more than one Rebelle. From there the challenge was amplified as teams scrambled to score on 23 CPs; the highest single day total in the fifth anniversary of the Rebelle Rally.
No teams were able to reach all of the CPs for the day, which ratcheted up the difficultly from previous stages and forced competitors to think on their feet and make calculated decisions. Most teams opted to cover ground in the Dove Springs Open OHV Area to reach CPs 12-14. The rugged terrain and aggressive closing times of Green CPs meant that the bulk of the teams had to abandon CPs 16-18 and 20-22 in an effort to reach Green CPs 15 and 19 and return to Base Camp before the closing times for these locations. Stakes are high as missing a Green CP means that teams sacrifice all remaining points for the day, essentially ending their chances of overall victory in such a tightly contested competition.
Team 4 Corners – #129 (Nena Barlow/Tana White) bounced back from a rough Stage 2 to post the top score on Stage 3 in the 4×4 Class. They were the only team to score 10 points on Black CPs 20 and 21, and these points late in the day pushed them to the top of the daily rankings. Team X Elles – #100 (Rachelle Croft/Taylor Pawley) scored on CP 20 to finish just behind Team 4 Corners on Day 3 and move into second place in the overall standings. Team Storm Trooper Iridium – #133 (Suzi McBride / Maria Guitar) demonstrated that they are more accurate than your average Storm Trooper, posting the third-place score for the day and sitting in third place overall in the 4×4 Class, just one point behind the X Elles. Consistency is starting to emerge as a factor in the overall standings. Team Blondetourage – #125 (Kaliegh Miller/Teralin Petereit) has not won a stage yet in 2020 but finished fourth on Day 3 and currently has a slim lead in the overall standings in the 4×4 Class, reminiscent of their winning performance in 2017.
In the X-Cross Class, Team Record The Journey – #207 (Rachel Ridenour/Kristie Levy) posted the top score for the day in their Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. They were able to narrow the gap on Team GOAT – #201 (Shelby Hall/Penny Dale) in their Ford Bronco Sport, but GOAT remains atop the overall standings. Team GOAT – #201 actually scored on more CPs for the day, but a wide miss (where the tracker is pushed outside the radius of a CP) cost the team valuable points on the day. Team Horsepower – #203 (Elana Scherr/Betsy Anderson) took third place for the day and has been improving steadily in the standings, they are currently in fifth place overall behind Team Telluriders – #205 (Sabrina Howells/Alyssa Roenigk) and Team Recalibrate – #219 (Sydney Stevenson/Kaitlin Mason).
Team Sassquatch Rebelles – #184 (Eliza Coleman/Kendra Miller) will be first off the line at 7 AM, based on a random draw. The live show will start at 9:30 AM from the course on Facebook, YouTube, and the Rebelle Rally website. On Day 4 the teams make their way through Trona Pinnacles, the other-worldly spires rising out of Searles Dry Lake Bed. From there the course goes through the ghost town of Ballarat and into Death Valley National Park. After driving past Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States, on Day 2, the Rebelles will now drive through Badwater, the lowest point in the continental United States, on Day 4. The destination for the day is Dumont Dunes, first visited during the 2016 and 2017 editions of the Rebelle Rally. Dumont will serve as the camp location for the marathon stage, with dunes rising 500 feet above the Amargosa Valley floor.
2020 Rebelle Rally Day 4 – Ridgecrest To Dumont
Teams travelled from Wagon Wheel OHV Area through Trona Pinnacles and Death Valley on their way to Dumont Dunes during Day 4 of the 2020 Rebelle Rally. Highs and lows were the theme for the day; from Mount Whitney (the highest point in the continental US) to Badwater (the lowest point in the continental US). Similarly, competitors experienced highs and lows as well, with Team CanToy Divas – #144 (Sue Chapin/Liza Tough) getting turned around in Death Valley and Team Fearless Fillies – #202 (Jovina Young/Erica Martin) getting stuck in the dunes when arriving in Dumont. It isn’t a coincidence that these teams are rookies; Rebelle founder Emily Miller has worked to find a balance between challenging teams who have competed in all five Rebelle Rallies and creating an environment where rookies are not overwhelmed. Rookies Erin Vogel and Sara Swenson of Team Ponderosa – #188 pulled the Fearless Fillies out of the sand and sit just outside of the Top 10 after four days of competition, proving that Miller has done a good job of striking the balance.
2017 Rebelle winners Team Blondetourage – #125 (Kaleigh Miller/Teralin Petereit) posted the top score on Day 4 to open up their lead in the overall standings over last year’s winners Team X Elles – #100 (Rachelle Croft/Taylor Pawley), who came in second for the day and remained in second place overall in the 4×4 Class. Day 4 saw the overall standings shaken up on a route that covered 350 kilometers and contained 22 CPs. The mother and daughter duo of Team Jeep Thrills – #177 (Christine Benzie / Emily Benzie) and Team FearLass – #188 (Laura Wanlass/Wendy Fisher) both climbed in the rankings on Day 4, while Team Storm Trooper Iridium – #133 (Suzi McBride/Maria Guitar) and Team Hoehn – #108 (Karen Hoehn/Dana Saxten) slid in the standings as fatigue becomes a factor in the rally.
In the X-Cross Class, Team GOAT – #201 (Shelby Hall/Penny Dale) posted the most points for the day in their Ford Bronco Sport and extended their lead in the overall standings. Team Telluriders – #205 (Sabrina Howells/Alyssa Roenigk) posted the second highest score of the day in their Kia Telluride and Team Record The Journey – #207 (Rachael Ridenour/Kristie Levy) placed third for the day in their Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV but remained in second in the overall standings.
The day ended at Dumont Dunes, where teams will spend the night self-camping without the comforts of base camp as the first half of the Marathon Stage. This is traditionally a pivotal moment for many competitors, when showers and food trucks are replaced by a star filled sky and belly laughs amongst like minded women. Stage 5 will push the teams further into Dumont Dunes before transiting through Rasor Open OHV Area and Mojave Road on their way to Johnson Valley OHV Area, the largest Off Highway Vehicle recreation area in the country.
2020 Rebelle Rally Day 5 – Dumont to Johnson Valley
The second half of the Marathon Stage started in Dumont Dunes with CPs located deeper in the dunes than on the previous day. From Dumont the course went to Rasor Open OHV Area, where teams struggled in the wide-open expanse with few visual reference points. The stage ended in Johnson Valley OHV Area with a myriad of CPs that teams battled to reach with their gas tanks both literally and figuratively on empty. As the Rebelle Rally reached Day 5, some teams are finding their stride while fatigue is clearly taking its toll on others. “This event wouldn’t have the same impact on the competitors if it was only three or four days long,” Rebelle founder Emily Miller explained. “It isn’t until Day 5 that you really start to feel the weight of the event. Even something as simple as setting up your tent can seem like a monumental task when you are completely exhausted. It is in these moments that we learn what we are truly capable of.”
Team Blondetourage – #125 (Kaleigh Miller/Teralin Petereit) took top honors on Day 5 in their turbocharged Jeep Wrangler JL Unlimited, expanding their lead in the overall standings in the 4×4 Class ahead of Team X Elles – #100 (Rachelle Croft/Taylor Pawley). The X Elles tied second on the day with Team Wild Grace – #106 (Sedona Blinson/Lyn Woodward) despite puncturing a tire on their Lexus LX570. Team Jeep Thrills – #177 (Christine Benzie/Emily Benzie) finish fifth on Stage 5 to remain in third place overall in their Bone Stock Jeep Wrangler JK, while positions were shaken up further down the standings. Team Storm Troopers Iridium – #133 (Suzi McBride/Maria Guitar) came into Base Camp early due to fuel concerns, sacrificing points and sliding down to seventh overall.
The standings were even more shaken up in the X-Cross class, where Team GOAT – #201 (Shelby Hall/Penny Dale) saw their lead evaporate after running out of fuel in their Ford Bronco Sport prior to reaching Base Camp, earning them a costly 35-point penalty and forfeiting the opportunity to earn any more points for the day. Team GOAT consumed much of their fuel in the Dumont Dunes in an effort to get every possible CP. Team Record the Journey – #207 (Rachael Ridenour/Kristie Levy) finished second on Day 5 to move up to first in the overall standings, but their lead is hardly a comfortable one. Team Telluriders – #205 (Sabrina Howells/Alyssa Roenigk) posted the top score in X-Cross for Day 5 in their Kia Telluride, putting them within striking distance of victory with two stages remaining.
The penultimate stage starts at 7 AM with teams leaving two at a time every three minutes. Team FearLass – #188 (Laura Wanlass/Wendy Fisher) and Team Storm Trooper Iridium – #133 will be first off the line on a “precision enduro” that uses unique road books to remove any advantage from competitors who are familiar with Johnson Valley. Teams that try to follow other competitors will suffer in the standings. Upon exiting Johnson Valley, Rebelles will transit through the stunning landscape of Joshua Tree National Park, around the shores of the Salton Sea, and back into dirt in the bizarre locale of East Jesus and Salvation Mountain. The final destination of the day is the famed Imperial Dunes (aka Glamis). The massive field of dunes will definitely rattle the nerves of both the rookies and the experienced. A trip up Oldsmobile Hill near sunset will reward those looking to maximize their score for the day.
2020 Rebelle Rally Day 6 – Johnson Valley to Imperial Sand Dunes
Day 6 of the Rebelle Rally started in Johnson Valley OHV Area, with teams searching for checkpoints (CPs) scattered amongst the King of the Hammers race course on and around Means Dry Lake Bed. From there the competitors traveled through Joshua Tree National Park, around the Salton Sea, through the artist community of Salvation Mountain, and on to Imperial Sand Dunes (aka Glamis). Some teams got a boost of confidence coming into the final stage by driving up to the top of the famed Oldsmobile Hill to reach a blue CP, while others got stuck in the sand and needed outside assistance, leaving them leery of what is to come.
Stage 6 saw the gap between some rankings shrink; only four points separate first and second place after a week of competition and over 1,200 possible points, while others widened; 65 points separate the second and third place teams in the 4×4 Class. Many teams received stiff penalties on Day 6 for speeding through Joshua Tree National Park after being warned at the end of Day 5 that speed limits would be strictly enforced. 2017 Rebelle Rally winners Team Blondetourage – #125 (Kaleigh Miller/Teralin Petereit) maintain a slim lead in the overall scoring of the 4×4 Class but saw that lead shrink as last year’s winners Team X Elles – #100 (Rachelle Croft/Taylor Pawley) posted the most points for the day. Third through eighth place are separated by less than 50 points going into the final stage, with a battle certain to ensue for the last spot on the podium.
In X-Cross, Team GOAT – #201 (Shelby Hall/Penny Dale) bounced back from a rough Stage 5 in their Ford Bronco Sport to post the top score on Stage 6, beating Team Record The Journey – #207 (Rachael Ridenour/Kristie Levy) and their Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV by 27 points for the day. That puts GOAT 24 points behind Record the Journey coming into the last stage in the sand dunes. Team Telluriders – #205 (Sabrina Howells/Alyssa Roenigk) sits 45 points behind Team GOAT in their Kia Telluride, but given the point changes we have seen over the past week the X-Cross title is still very much in play right up to the last CP.
The Rebelle Rally culminates on Stage 7 starting at 7 AM in the vast, intimidating dunes of Glamis. This stage is sponsored by Total Chaos, the woman-owned suspension company that not only has supported the Rebelle Rally since its inception but also provide incredibly capable vehicles and experienced drivers for safety and media crew, and help set the course in the sand. Legacies have been created and dreams have been dashed in these dunes in equal parts over the past five years. Watch all the action unfold at rebellerally.com/live for the live show, up-to-the-minute standings, and live tracking as teams put it all on the line to win the 2020 Rebelle Rally and create their own legacies.
2020 Rebelle Rally Day 7- Imperial Sand Dunes Finale
The Rebelle Rally starts innocently enough each year with an unscored day in picturesque Lake Tahoe. Don’t be fooled though, this event is a pressure cooker. Now in its fifth year, it is the longest competitive off-road rally in the United States, covering 1,500 kilometers of rugged terrain over eight days. Rebelle founder Emily Miller and Course Director Jimmy Lewis set up the course to be increasingly difficult for each day of competition, in terms of both navigation and driving skills. And it all culminates on Day 7 at the Imperial Sand Dunes (aka Glamis).
In 2020, the sand of Glamis was hotter and softer than ever. The competition was equally hot, with top teams getting mired in the short, steep dunes that flank Glamis on the very first checkpoint of the day. Team Blondetourage – #125 (Kaleigh Miller/Teralin Petereit) maintained their composure, and their lead in the overall standings, to repeat their 2017 victory. That year the duo drove Kaleigh’s Jeep Wrangler TJ, while this year they piloted a new turbocharged Jeep Wrangler JL Unlimited outfitted with ADS remote reservoir shocks, Artec skidplates, and Falken Wildpeak AT3W tires. “The TJ is incredibly capable,” Kaleigh shared at the finish line, “but the JL is just so much more comfortable. We didn’t feel nearly as fatigued at the end of each day.”
Last year’s winners Team X Elles – #100 (Rachelle Croft/Taylor Pawley) chose to be conservative in the dunes in their heavy Lexus LX570, protecting their second-place position in the overall standings. Team Jeep Thrills – #177 (Christine Benzie/Emily Benzie) was more daring, recognizing that only a few points separated the top ten teams in the 4×4 Class. The mother-and-daughter team posted the best score of the day to capture bronze at the 2020 Rebelle Rally in their Bone Stock two door Jeep Wrangler.
In X-Cross, Team GOAT – #201 (Shelby Hall/Penny Dale) were able to overcome a rough Day 5 and leverage their experience at the Rebelle Rally to win the X-Cross Class in their Ford Bronco Sport. Team Telluriders – #205 (Sabrina Howells/Alyssa Roenigk) faced their own share of challenges early in the rally in their Kia Telluride, with multiple flat tires forcing the team to dial way back later in the event. The more measured, consistent approach netted the Telluriders a sizable first-place finish on Day 7 and earned them enough points to finish second overall in X-Cross. Team Record The Journey – #207 (Rachael Ridenour/Kristie Levy) slipped to third place on the day, giving up enough points to the Telluriders to shake up the overall standings. Record the Journey found themselves in a precarious position half way through the stage and burned valuable time when Team #135 (Stacey Sorenson/Christine Dahle) helped pull them to safety.
“This rally is really about competing with yourself,” founder Emily Miller explained. Competitors were given their cell phones and laptops back after crossing the finish line, and Saturday rounds out the 2020 Rebelle Rally with brunch by Michelin star chef Drew Deckman, team portraits, a special skills challenge, and the awards ceremony for class and special designation winners. Log on to rebellerally.com/live at 6 PM on Saturday to watch the awards from home.
2020 Rebelle Rally Day 8 - Celebrations
Competitors spent Saturday relaxing in the Imperial Sand Dunes (Glamis) following completion of the fifth annual Rebelle Rally. After sleeping in, the teams were treated to a breakfast of chilaquiles and eggs benedict from Michelin star chef Drew Deckman and his talented staff. With their appetites satiated, the Rebelles took part in a Tire Change Challenge with lucrative prizes from Big Agnes. Third generation off-roader Shelby Hall and veteran navigator Penny Dale posted the quickest time, changing a tire on the team’s brand-new Ford Bronco Sport in only three minutes and seven seconds.
Hall and Dale also won the X-Cross Class at the 2020 Rebelle Rally as Team GOAT – #201, earning a free entry for the 2021 Rebelle Rally and Suunto watches for their efforts. They edged out Team Telluriders – #205 (Sabrina Howells/Alyssa Roenigk) in their Kia Telluride and Team Record the Journey – #207 (Rachael Ridenour/Kristie Levy) in their Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV after a week of competition that saw the leader in the overall standings change every day.
Team GOAT – #201 weren’t the only ones to take home hardware this week. Erin Vogel and Sara Swenson of Team Ponderosa – #146 beat 13 other teams of newcomers to win Rookie of the Year. Team Ponderosa finished 10th overall in the 4×4 Class, an impressive performance by any measure. Sisters Rochelle Bovee and Melissa Vander Wilt of Team Roaming Wolves – #141 were another pair of rookies; women who decided to restore their late father’s 1969 Ford Bronco and honor his legacy in 4030, which is designated for vehicles that are at least 40 years old.
Yet more rookies, Team CanToy Divas – #144 (Sue Chapin/Liza Tough) won the International Cup for coming all the way from Canada to compete in the 2020 Rebelle Rally. Winners of the International Cup have $2,500 donated to the charity of their choice, with the CanToy Divas choosing BC Cancer Foundation as their charity of choice. Team CanToy Divas – #144 were one of three rookie teams to receive a Rebelle scholarship to apply towards a reduced entry fee in the 2020 Rebelle Rally, along with Team #135 (Stacey Sorenson/Christine Dahle) and Team Sweet T + Sparks – #101 (Wendy Phillips/Tracie Sell).
Team Blondetourage – #125 repeated their 2017 performance by winning the 4×4 Class in their lightly modified Jeep Wrangler JL Unlimited. Like the X-Cross class winners they were rewarded with a free entry for the 2020 Rebelle Rally and Suunto watches. The skidplates and shocks on Kaleigh Miller’s Wrangler, and aftermarket suspension and bumpers on the second place Team X Elles – #100 (Rachelle Croft/Taylor Pawley) Lexus LX570 paved the way for third place finishers Team Jeep Thrills – #177 (Christine Benzie/Emily Benzie) to take home the coveted Bone Stock Award. The mother-and-daughter team competed for the third year in a row in Emily Benzie’s completely stock two door Jeep Wrangler Willys, and the team posted the highest score on the final, and most challenging, day of competition.
Representatives from Total Chaos and Rivian spent Saturday answering questions about their products and demonstrating their capabilities in the dunes of Glamis. A new designation for 2020 was Electrified, with entries from Rivian and Mitsubishi. Team Killer Watt – #140 (Emme Hall/Rebecca Donaghe) tied for fifth place in the 4×4 Class and Team Record The Journey – #205 (Rachael Ridenour/Kristie Levy) finished third in the X-Cross Class in their Mitsubishi Overlander PHEV. Both vehicles were charged along the 1,500-mile route by Power Innovations using solar and hydrogen fuel cell technology to provide energy for the electric vehicles. While there were plenty of skeptics coming into the event, Rivian and Mitsubishi proved the viability and durability of their products and we anticipate more manufacturers will showcase their innovation in the Electrified Designation at next year’s Rebelle Rally.
The evening ended with a six-course meal by Drew Deckman and his talented staff, delighting competitors’ taste buds with fresh Baja oysters, farm raised quail, venison, and much more. The final award of the event was the Team Spirit Award. Voted on by the competitors, this year saw a tie between Team Hoehn Adventures – #108 (Karen Hoehn/Dana Saxten) and Team Waypoint Wanderers – #148 (Anna Lewis/Andrea Shaffer), who will split the $5,000 prize between their charities. Team Hoehn Adventures chose Friends of Bethany and Team Waypoint Wanderers picked Pancreatic Cancer Action Network as the charities they represented at the 2020 Rebelle Rally. While the 2020 Rebelle Rally has drawn to a close, the impact the event has made on the competitors and their communities is endless.