What is the Rebelle Rally? These are the ins and outs of the 2020 off-road contest

The Rebelle Rally kicks off this week. Take a look at what it means to participate.

Photo courtesy of Rebelle Rally

You've heard about the Rebelle Rally. Perhaps you've seen in the photos online, read about it in the New York Times, opened the latest issue of your favorite magazine and saw a profile of the driver. Maybe that girl you knew from high school is a participant. No matter how it happened, Rebelle, as the in-crowd calls it, has piqued your interest and now you want to know more.

Scroll down to learn more about the 2020 Rebelle Rally.

What is the Rebelle Rally?

Rebelle Rally is not a speed-centric race. Rather, it's a navigational challenge.

Teams of two – a driver and navigator – relinquish their cell phones and all GPS and Internet-enabled devices and rely on old-world navigation to locate to checkpoints of varying degrees of difficulty using only a compass, maps, and roadbooks.

With precision driving in focus, teams drive through designated open off-highway vehicle areas across Nevada and California.

How long is the Rebelle Rally?

The Rebelle Rally is approximately 2,500 km, making it the longest off-road rally in the U.S.

Rebelle Rally

Photo courtesy of Rebelle Rally

"The fact is we designed the Rebelle Rally to specifically be a proving platform for manufacturer vehicles - the ones in your driveway. And it's meant for them to shine. That is the Rebelle by design. It's not a gimmick event - it's built for them and for the women who use their products, "said Emily Miller, founder, Rebelle Rally. "Their safety and performance depends on great products, and this is the place to showcase it."

What are the dates of the 2020 Rebelle Rally?

This year's contest runs October 8 through 17, 2020.

Who participates?

Rebelles, as the contestants call themselves, come from every walk of life. There's doctors, educators, mechanics, scientists, moms, writers, on-camera personalities, and more that come from nearly every walk of life to participate.

Teams have ranged in age from 22 to 72 years old, and hailed from 188 cities, 38 states and provinces, and eight countries since the rally's inception just five years ago.

The Rebelle Rally is a females-only event.

Are there different classes the vehicles compete in?

Rebelle Rally

Photo courtesy of Rebelle Rally

Yes. For the 2020 contest, there are two: 4x4 and crossover. The difference is simple. Crossovers are vehicle's built on architecture that is oftentimes shared with cars and focuses on daily driver capabilities, such as the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. Models that are part of the 4x4 class include trucks and true sport utility vehicles like the Nissan Frontier and Jeep Wrangler.

What is the Electric Designation?

Vehicles with the Electric Designation, minimal vehicle modifications are allowed. The organization worked diligently to launch the Electrified Designation as a "test program" for 2020, an authentic challenge for electric (EV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and hybrids. The EV and PHEV teams do not compete in a separate class, but directly in their intended class with allowances for on-course rapid charging.

"Since we first envisioned the Rebelle Rally, we knew it would be the ultimate true test of electrified vehicles available to consumers and we have worked tirelessly to make this happen," explained Miller. "Providing battery-based mobile rapid charging on course allows these vehicles to compete in the standard classes, an exciting and important component of the Electrified Designation."

The Rebelle Rally is partnered with Power Innovations, the industry leader in the development and deployment of consumer and corporate green power solutions, including challenging and rugged conditions like the Rally. The Utah-based company will provide all the power for the base camp, as well as on-course BEV 175 KW fast charging.

"We have a history of accepting challenges that have never been done before – things that a lot of people classify as unrealistic," said Robert Mount, President and CEO of Power Innovations.

Are the vehicles tracked?

Rebelle Rally

Photo courtesy of Rebelle Rally

For the safety of the participants and to ensure rules are being followed, teams receive two tracking devices and one satellite phone. These are distributed during Technical Inspection and allow course officials to track the vehicles and checkpoints. This equipment also allows teams to call safety officials in the event of an emergency, no matter how far off the beaten path they venture.

Are the vehicles specially equipped?

The rally encourages vehicles to include good off-road tires and underbody protection. Additionally, sturdy bumpers, removed lower air dams (if necessary), and additional lighting can be advantageous. Some vehicles are more heavily modified than others, based on their owner's needs.

What are the checkpoints?

Races are divided into Map & Compass Challenges and Rebelle Enduro Challenges.

Each day, teams navigate the terrain using maps, compass, and and roadbook to a series of 10 to 15 (or more) checkpoints. CP Guides, roadbooks, and score cards are distributed daily at the same time to each team.

Each checkpoint is worth a certain number of points. Those that are easy to find are worth the least amount while those harder to reach are worth more. There is no minimum number of checkpoints teams must reach each day.

To log their position as at a checkpoint, teams use a geo-locator that logs their coordinates. They must be as close as possible to the correct location position, which may be marked with a large flag, or simply just is a dot on a map.

Can Rebelles get help?

Rebelle Rally

Photo courtesy of Rebelle Rally

Teams are not allowed GPS or cell phones. Their phones are taken from them at the beginning of the race and returned to them at the end of the last stage. Often, teams spend their last evening of the event catching up on messages from friends and calling loved ones.

Competitors are responsible for general vehicle maintenance, which includes tire changes, tire pressure, and fluids. Mechanics are available during the competition and set up at the Rebelle Rally camp each night. Teams can utilize the mechanics but must pay for parts, etc. They are assessed a penalty for using the assist while on the course. Rebelles may receive mechanical assistance at the Base Camp (at the finish of a daily stage) without receiving a penalty.

Teams can help each other, however any outside assistance incurs penalties.

The close of the competition features an awards ceremony and gala in San Diego, California. Often, families will attend meet the Rebelles at the hotel in San Diego, arriving from across the country and, in a year other than 2020, the world. Rebelle Rally rules state that family and friends are invited to attend the tech inspection and finishing events, but are not allowed in the Base Camp, nor are they allowed to follow teams.

What if they crash?

Rebelles are responsible for their own health and safety, as well as that of the vehicle they are driving. Doing a rally, like the Rebelle, is inherently dangerous. Emergency personnel are close and trained vehicle rescue experts are on-hand should disaster strike.

What is the schedule like?

Rebelle Rally

Photo courtesy of Rebelle Rally

A typical day starts at 5:00 a.m. PT. That's when the Rebelles begin waking up and heading to eat breakfast. At 6 a.m. there's a competitor briefing and then it's off to the races starting at 7 a.m.

Rebelles typically start arriving back at Base Camp around 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Dinner is served at 7 p.m. and quiet hours are observed starting at 10 p.m.

How do I track the rally?

If you want to track the Rebelle Rally progress, including on a team-by-team basis, you can click here. Whereabouts are slightly delayed in being reported for teams' safety.

How has COVID-19 effected the Rebelle Rally?

The Rebelle is a remote, outdoor event with no spectators or outside assistance. Miller has hired a full-time COVID coordinator to monitor the health and safety of teams and staff; all will have to clear a COVID-19 test before the competition begins.

What are the prizes?

Rebelle Rally

Photo courtesy of Rebelle Rally

There are a variety of awards given out at the end of the Rebelle Rally.

  • 1st Place - The prize for winning a specific class is free entry into the following Rebelle Rally, bragging rights, and a custom trophy. Winners of the 4×4 and the Crossover class receive $5,000 in credit for each competitor toward the following year's entry.
  • 2nd Place - Custom trophy and non-cash prizes
  • 3rd Place - Custom trophy and non-cash prizes
  • Team Spirit Award - This special award is selected by the competitors and given to the team that displays the best attitude, helps others, and defines the Rebelle spirit. This team will have $5,000 donated to the charity of their choosing.
  • Bone Stock Award - This is the team that gets the highest score in a completely "Bone Stock" vehicle, one without any modifications beyond off-road tires. One will be awarded for each class.
  • International Cup - The highest scoring International team gets $2,500 donated in their name to the charity of their choice. An International team is defined as two teammates, non-US citizens or holding dual citizenship, and a valid non-US passport. A minimum one teammate must live full-time abroad.
  • Rookie of the Year -The highest scoring team comprised of two first-time Rebelle Rally competitors will win trophies and Suunto winner's watches.

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The all-electric ID.4 will help its pilot and navigator tackle the grueling race route.


Off-road racing and endurance races are nothing new, but the Rebelle Rally's approach is unique. The event is the first all-women event of its kind in the U.S. and takes participants through severely challenging terrain with no electronic aids allowed for navigation. This year, Volkswagen is bringing its new ID.4 EV to the event to be piloted by driver Mercedes Lilienthal and navigator Emily Winslow.

Volkswagen ID.4Mercedes Lilienthal and Emily Winslow will pilot the ID.4.Volkswagen

Tanner Foust Racing and Rhys Millen Racing modified the VW with new suspension system, tubular control arms, fabricated skid plates, battery protection, and other off-road-ready kit. The crossover has also been fited with a Thule roof rack and Yokohama Geolandar A/T tires.

The ID.4's battery and electric motor will remain untouched. That means a combined output of 295 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. The 82 kWh battery can deliver an EPA-estimated range of 249 miles on a charge, but keep in mind that the terrain the team will be tackling will have an impact on that number.

The 2021 event marks the sixth year for the all-women rally raid. Teams are faced with 1,400 miles of desert in Nevada and California, and must navigate the racecourse without the use of electronic guides, such as GPS or cell phones. From the start in Las Vegas to the finish in Glamis, CA, participants must use maps, compasses, and their own skill to navigate.

Volkswagen ID.4Several modifications were made to the suspension and other components.Volkswagen

Even though it's the ID.4's maiden year on the market, the electric crossover has already had a successful run in motorsport. Earlier this year, another modified version of the vehicle competed in the NORRA Mexican 1000. It was also massaged by Tanner Foust Racing and Rhys Millen Racing, and VW notes that the ID.4 that we'll see in Rebelle Rally vehicle was improved using data from its first races.

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Three two-women teams will compete in a new Bronco or Bronco Sport.


As the pandemic ramped up last summer, auto event organizers were canceling left and right to avoid gathering groups of people to spread the virus. A few events went on, especially outdoor racing events such as the Rebelle Rally. The all-woman off-road event covers desert terrain in Nevada and California, and this year Ford Motor Company is sending three teams to compete in different versions of the Bronco and Bronco Sport SUVs.

All three teams will compete in some sort of Bronco SUV. Shelby Hall and Penny Dale, who drive a Bronco Sport in last year's Rebelle Rally, return to the competition in 2021, this time with a Bronco two-door. Pro off-roaders Melissa Fischer and Cora Jokinen will pilot a Bronco Sport in the X-cross class and novice racers Kathryn Reinhardt and Victoria Bundrant from accessory supplier 4Wheel Parts will drive a four-door Bronco in the 4x4 class.

2021 Rebelle RallyTwo Broncos and a Bronco Sport will compete. Ford

The Bronco Sport and Bronco four-door are both Badlands models. The two-door Bronco is a Wildtrak model. All of the SUVs have been decked out in special Bronco 4600-inspired race livery. The two-door Bronco will enter the competition equipped with the Sasquatch package, but will otherwise retain is factory stock configuration. The Bronco Sport will also remain stock, other than having its back seat removed. Ford says the 4Wheel Parts team will accessorize the four-door Bronco.

The Rebelle Rally is the first women's off-road navigation rally in the United States. Teams are not allowed to use electronic maps, such as in-dash navigation or mapping tools built into smartphones. Ford says its teams will disable the features in the Broncos they'll be driving in the event.

2021 Rebelle RallyThe Bronco Sport will remain stock, but will have its back seats removed.Ford

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