Rebelle Rally | Behind the Scenes

For seven days, Kelley Blue Book's Lyn Woodward and teammate Sedona Blinson brave the wilds of Nevada and California driving off-road without a GPS device, using only a map and compass to compete in the Rebelle Rally.



First things first. Tech inspection, before the rally starts. Mechanics make sure they can’t use their nav systems and confirm that they're off-road worthy. Their 2018 Nissan Armada was heavily modified for competition this year. Sorry, not for sale at dealerships.


Both driver and navigator have done this competition before, so they knew what to expect, but they were in for seven 11+ hour days together and it can get pretty intense.



Competitors wake up at 5am and get a list of checkpoints to find for the day. Teams plot their given latitude and longitude coordinates on a map, then ping a satellite tracker when they find checkpoints to record their location with the judges. Similar to ranking ski runs, mandatory green checkpoints are the easiest to find.



The optional and harder blue checkpoints are marked with a smaller flag or blue post, and the toughest black checkpoints aren't marked at all. Whichever team accumulates the most points in both the 4x4 and crossover classes over seven days wins. There would be 145 checkpoints for us to navigate to over the course of this week. And most of the time, it’s not easy.


At the end of their long, intense days they return to basecamp. There are fuel trucks so teams can fill up their vehicles each night.



In addition to finding checkpoints, there are time, speed, distance challenges called Enduros. Folks these may not look it, but they’re highly stressful. There are usually three or four time controls along the way. And if you don’t pass them within four seconds of when you’re supposed to you’re docked points.



The Rebelle covers so much different terrain every year, from rutted out dirt roads in Death Valley, and the Trona Pinnacles, which make you feel like you’re in an episode of Star Trek, to the sharp shale-covered inclines of Stoddard Wells and Johnson Valley OHV areas, and finally the ever-shifting sand dunes of Glamis. And not everybody is comfortable driving on everything.



Teams are free to help one another but get outside help and you’re penalized points. And some bad stuff can happen out there. Comparing notes on where you’re heading isn’t uncommon. But make no mistake, that doesn’t mean teams don’t want to win.



A wide range of unmodified stock vehicles compete every year. Ford, Honda, Jeep, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Nissan and even Rolls-Royce, all put in competitors this year. The field is stocked with Subarus, Toyotas, and Land Rovers. This year saw the largest crossover class in Rebelle history.



You absolutely do not have to be a professional driver or navigator to do this. Basic navigation and off-road driving knowledge is all you need to compete. But the Rebelle is won or lost based on how good your navigator is. Plotting points on a map is one thing, seeing the topography come to life out of the windshield is something else entirely.



Sedona and Lyn competed hard. They drove some of the most technical terrain they've ever attempted and for their fearlessness they took 6th place overall, something they'd never anticipated.



76 women from six countries ranging in age from 23 to 71 conquered, well, honestly, whatever it was they came to conquer in this event that can be life changing.
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