Ladies, picture it: Somewhere in the California desert…or maybe this is Nevada. You won’t be sure until you check the map. You and your navigator haven’t seen another vehicle for miles. Well, maybe it’s been miles. Some time has definitely passed. You have no cell phone and no GPS. It’s been days since you’ve seen your home, and you still have a few more days before you reach civilization.
This is just a slice of what life is like during the eight days of the Rebelle Rally, the first women-only off-road rally race.
Does this sound like something that would induce a major panic attack, or the start of a good time? If you’re ready to roll out right now, read on.
What Is the Rebelle Rally?
The first Rebelle Rally took place in 2015, and was the brainchild of founder Emily Miller, a hardcore off-road racer and Baja 1000 finalist. The premise is pretty simple: Teams of two women share navigation and driving duties along a 2,000-kilometer off-road course spanning eight days of competition.
Here’s the catch: There’s no course map. There’s no GPS, or cell phones. Even digital cameras with location capabilities are forbidden. The most advanced technology you’re permitted is paper maps, a roadbook, and a compass. Each day, drivers are provided with coordinates to hidden checkpoints, navigating through featureless deserts and sand dunes that all look the same after awhile.
The purpose of the Rebelle Rally is to give women the chance to shine in an off-road competition. Not only does the rally raid test driving skills and navigation know-how, but challenges women’s endurance and survival skills.
Survival Skills? How Intense Is This Race?
As far as off-road races go, it’s pretty intense, but racers aren’t left to die in the desert. Most nights, racers can check in and camp at designated base camps, which include bathrooms and showers. There are a few nights when self-camping is required, meaning drivers will want to pack a tent and overnight supplies.
Race officials do provide tracking devices in case of emergencies, and mechanics are available along the course to help out with any issues that pop up along the way. Meals are also provided for drivers and navigators, along with a water supply. While no one would consider off-roading a “safe and easy” sport, the rally organizers do want to keep drivers out of absolute peril.
What Kind of Vehicle Do I Need?
One fun aspect of the Rebelle Rally is that you can compete in a stock production vehicle. You don’t need a fancy side-by-side or UTV. In fact, since some of the course can require driving on paved roads, all entrants need to be street legal with valid plates.
There are two racing classes: The 4×4 and the X-Cross class.
The 4×4 class is open to four-wheel drive vehicles that feature a two-speed transfer case, and are capable of lower gears. This can include daily drivers like a Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Tacoma, or a Range Rover.
The X-Cross class is four two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive crossover vehicles that don’t have the two speed transfer case or low range gears. Examples from previous races include Ford Bronco Sports, Mitsubishi Outlanders, or Subaru Outbacks.
Roll cages are not required, but helmets are. Off-road tires and skid plates are recommended, but not an absolute necessity. Fuel is provided at base camps, and drivers are expected to be able to squeak around 300 miles out of a full tank of fuel.
Fun fact: The 2020 Rebelle Rally was the first time competition was opened to electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and battery powered vehicles.
Is the Rebelle Rally for the faint of heart? Absolutely not. However, founder Emily Miller has worked hard to make the race practical and enjoyable for women from all sorts of backgrounds. The goal is to encourage women to test their boundaries and excel in areas they might have found challenging in the past.
So that leaves only one question: Are you ready?