The Rebelle Rally is an off-road navigation rally currently in its second year. It’s open exclusively to women with teams from around the world testing their mettle navigating off-road without the aid of GPS. It’s a challenging week of driving, but it’s about more than driving and navigating. It’s about testing your own limits and pushing yourself to do more than you thought possible.
We joined up with the Rebelles at the start of their journey in Lake Tahoe. Teams arrived with perfect shiny vehicles, clean clothes, and smiling faces. Their vehicles were diverse and included a Ram Power Wagon, Jaguar F-Pace, Subaru Outback, and a small army worth of Jeep Wranglers. The field of competitors was equally diverse.
Some of these women are experienced off-road racers like Emme Hall, who has done the grueling Rally Aicha des Gazelles in Morocco, but many come without an off-road racing background. Marty Lawrence is a retired oral surgeon. She entered the race in her personal Subaru Outback.
There’s Lyn Woodward, an automotive journalist who off-roads for fun and her teammate, Nicole Honstead, a substitute teacher from California. They’re tackling the race in a 2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon. Also in a Jeep Wrangler – this time a 2014 Rubicon JKU – are Kris Vockler and Charlene O’Day, both of whom are business executives in the real world. These very different women showed up in Lake Tahoe with the same goal of winning the Rebelle Rally.
Several days into the race things change. The vehicles are sandy, clothes are covered in a persistent layer of dust, and smiles give way to looks of dogged determination. This is tough. This is tiring. The days are long and exhausting, but at night the teams come together at camp to share their triumphs and challenges. Even on a bad day when you get stuck in the dunes and think you’ll never get out, there’s still the support of the other teams when you get back to camp.
Beyond that, there’s the amazing group of people who run the rally. At the top of the list is rally founder Emily Miller who has an impressive racing resume. She knows exactly what these women are experiencing and assembled a carefully chosen support team.
This includes photographers like Nicole Dreon who looked rather like a ninja snapping pictures and trying to keep the sand and sun out of her eyes. It includes guys like Doug Lawyer and John Edelman, Land Rover owners with extensive off-roading experience who organize events for the Land Rover community. They volunteered their time at the rally and ventured out in the cold well before sunrise to take up checkpoint positions ahead of the teams.
Then there was husband and wife duo Big Rich Klein and Shelley Krehbiel. They’re the team behind W.E. Rock, World Extreme Rock Crawling Championship Series, and spend most of the year running events from their RV turned traveling home. They served as course officials making sure rules were followed and spirits were high with their enthusiasm and excitement for every team.
What you see from the outside are women tackling an off-road navigation rally. What you see on the inside are teams of women who work on their own, but also as a part of a whole. They’re supported by every other team in the rally and by the amazing people who share their time and expertise to make the Rebelle Rally a one-of-a-kind experience.