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Desk to Glory: 2018 Rebelle Rally

May 27, 2019

The Rebelle Rally is a women’s only 2500-kilometer navigational driving rally. The rally starts in Lake Tahoe, serpentining through Nevada and California, eventually arriving at the finish line at the Glamis sand dunes ten days later.

A navigational rally involves using a map and compass to locate various checkpoints throughout the course. The checkpoints, represented by flags, are rated like a ski run. Green flags are the easiest to find but are worth the least amount of points. Black checkpoints are the most difficult to locate and have the highest value.

The rally participants do not have access to GPS or phones for the duration of the event. Phones are confiscated and the participants’ in-car navigation is taped over and sealed. In addition to proficiency with a map and compass, the women require off-road driving skills adequate enough to successfully overcome large sand dunes, soft sand, slick mud, and sharp rocks.

Teams are organized into two classes, 4x4 and Crossover. Teams driving stock vehicles compete for the coveted Bone Stock designation, which is awarded to the highest-ranking team in a vehicle with no modifications. Teams from outside the U.S. compete for the International Cup.

It’s an all-women’s rally race, so what was I doing there? I drove my 2008 Tundra TRD Off-Road down to the event from Canmore, Alberta for use as a media truck. To be honest, it was more than that. I camped, photographed, charged camera gear, and chased the rally out of the Tundra. It was my home (errr… office) away from home. It took me three days to get to Johnson Valley, CA (I caught up with the Rally at the halfway point) and as usual I was living out of the truck. Drive. Camp. Drive.

I wasn’t the only one using my vehicle as a media truck. Nearly every media vehicle on the rally course was a Toyota. Tundras, Tacomas and 4Runners did their job so the photographers and videographers could do theirs.


After nine days of navigation, the women arrived at the Glamis sand dunes. Never heard of Glamis? It’s where the Tatooine desert planet scenes in Star Wars was filmed, so yeah, there’s a lot of sand there. It also happens to be where the rally finish line is. From my conversations with the participants, it’s a love-hate relationship. They’re stoked that the finish is near, but the towering dunes of vehicle-swallowing sand stand in the way.

The 2018 Rebelle Rally ended in what the organizers thought was statistically impossible due to the complex scoring system. Two teams tied for first place. The American duo of Emme Hall and Rebecca Donaghe successfully captured first place for the second time, but this year they shared that spot with the Canadian team of Michelle Laframboise and Elise Racette.

Want to become a Rebelle? See for information on how to enter for the 2019 Rebelle Rally. I’ll see you there.


Richard Giordano