Ali Currie is a southern California-based dental hygienist and mother, and Keri Porter is a Michigan-based school bus driver, assistant park leader and former roller derby competitor. Together they decided to tackle the fifth annual Rebelle Rally – a 1,200-mile all-women’s off-road navigational rally raid over eight days through California and Nevada – in a slightly modified Jeep Gladiator Mojave with OE stock FOX Factory Series 2.5 shocks and 2.0 bump stops.
When Currie spoke with Rebelle Rally owner Emily Miller spoke about entering the 2020 edition, Miller thought the experienced Porter would make a great co-driver.
“After talking a bit on the phone we all met in the desert for a weekend of fun,” Currie said. “It was a hit, we had a blast and we felt we would make a great team. Keri has multiple years of experience and can help guide the journey.”
According to Miller, the Rebelle Rally is not a race for speed, but rather a unique and demanding event based on the elements of headings, hidden checkpoints, time, and distance using maps, compass, and road book. No GPS, cell phones, or other electronic devices are allowed as teams navigate to the checkpoints. While this was a new experience for Currie, she has a fairly successful family member that offered encouragement: 2020 Dakar Rally UTV winner and husband Casey Currie.
36 Teams, 2 Classes
The Rebelle Rally is open to plated, street-legal stock vehicles, able to travel at posted speed limits on all roads including Interstates. One difference between this U.S.-based rally and Dakar is roll cages and harnesses are not required. Skid plates and reinforced bumpers are, however, recommended by the organizers. In 2020, 36 teams of two participants were grouped in two classes (4×4 and Crossover). Currie and Porter entered the 4×4 class in a slightly modified 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave.
“(Our) Jeep Gladiator Mojave comes factory-prepared with big FOX shocks and other goodies, so I’m excited to drive it,” Currie told Driving Line’s Kristen Cline. “We have upgraded the tires to the 35” Nitto Trail Grapplers, which is the max tire size Rebelle allows us to run, giving us a bit more ground clearance. We’ve paired them with KMC beadlock wheels in order to run lower tire pressure. We also added a FOX steering stabilizer, CRC front bumper and Warn winch. A couple Baja Designs LP6 lights finish things off.”
Compass & Map Challenges
According to the organizers, they designed an interesting course that’s fun to drive and respectful to the desert environment. It’s composed of the primary portion of challenges – called Compass & Map Challenges. The secondary challenges are called Rebelle Enduro Challenges (REC) whereby competitors use roadbooks to remain “on route” and in some challenges, “on time” factoring in time, speed, distance for average speed (at or under speed limits). The goal is that when participants finish, they have tested and sharpened their driving skills, and sharpened several different types of navigation skills. The Rebelle Rally combines multiple types of navigation/driving challenges, including the following items:
- Navigation to checkpoints (CPs)
- Checkpoint accuracy
- time, speed, distance sections between CPs
- Checkpoint decisions factoring in skill, time, strategy
- Roadbook reading (including pace notes/tulips) & management
- Plotting checkpoint Latitude and Longitudes
- Plotting distance and heading
- Route choice
- Map reading
The 2020 Rebelle Rally began in Lake Tahoe on October 8 and finished in the Imperial Sand Dunes at Glamis on October 17. Currie and Porter finished 18th in the 4×4 class with 960 points. While the event encourages first-time desert drivers, the terrain wasn’t always for the faint of heart. Read about Currie and Porter’s daily successes and challenges here.