It’s less than TWO WEEKS until we leave for the Rallye!!! We know a lot of you want to follow us on this crazy adventure. We are proud to announce that we have partnered with Jalopnik as part of the Isuzu Media Challenge. The Media Challenge is a mini-challenge within the Rallye. Participants must drive an Isuzu vehicle and partner with a major news outlet who will post daily updates. The winner of this challenge gets 15000 euros for their charity of choice.
That’s right. We don’t have to win the whole Rallye (although we wouldn’t mind doing that too), we just have to beat the other teams in the Media Challenge to win some serious coin for our charity. We have chosen FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. We wanted to work with them at this point as they specifically benefit women who have a hereditary risk of breast cancer, like Navigator #1 Michele Martineau.
Of course, we wouldn’t be us if we didn’t try for even MOAR press coverage. During the Rallye, March 19-28, you can follow us at
We hope you will take the time to write to us. After March 16th just go to the Gazelle website and click on Rally Live. There you can find a link to all the teams. Click on us, team 178. Go to Write to the Gazelles and follow the instructions. The Rallye will print out our messages for us at the bivouac each night. We imagine this is a lot like mail call in the Army and any messages we get from our supporters will mean a lot to us. We will try to write back but we have heard that there are only 3 computers for 300 women. Those are not good odds.
And of course, you can track us. Even though we won’t have GPS, we will be tracked via satellite so you can monitor our progress. Just go to www.gazellerally.com. We are team 178, but there are 4 other American teams to cheer for:
Team 107 Lerner/Reina; Third Time Participants
Team 136 Hamilton/Beavis; First Time Participants
Team 182 Klishevich/Chiadmi; First Time Participants
Team 185 Meddows/Barone; Second and First Time Participants
We wouldn’t be going to Morocco without the help we have received from our friends, family, and supporters. We realize these are difficult financial times for everyone, and we thank you SO VERY MUCH for helping us get to Morocco for this crazy, life changing adventure!
I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it was to place first in class after all the bad luck and poor driving decisions I’ve made the past few months. But it was a whirlwind weekend, let me tell you.
It started off with me not going to sleep at all on Thursday night, and getting on a 6am flight from DC to LAX. It was just easier to not sleep. I was lucky enough to secure a Dodge Charger SRT8 through my RoadflyTV contacts, so I had some wheels while I was out there. Good thing too because I had to hightail it out to CBS to do a quick interview on KCAL 9, and then bust a move for tech up at Barstow.
This was a race I did as a part of Courage Girl Motorsports. The MORE Powder Puff Race for the Cure features all female drivers and co-drivers, with all proceeds going to Cedar Sinai Breast Cancer Research Center. Each year the race raises over $100K through team donations, a raffle, and our entry fees. It’s one of the best races of the season and it was great to be doing it with my Courage Girls Michele, Martee, and Pepper. You can read more about us at www.teamcourageracing.com
While at tech we talked to people, handed out calendar pre-orders (have you ordered yours? you should), took some photos, and did a few interviews for a DVD coming out about the Powder Puff. But really all we wanted to do was go to bed so we could get up and RACE!
The next morning Martee and Michele took off in Grace for the morning race. Grace is emblazoned with over 400 names of breast cancer survivors, fighters, angels, and previvors. Such a sight to see her racing across the Barstow desert. She finished 3rd in class with an average speed of 24.7mph.
My co-dawg Pepper and I got in the car, now named Christine because she sucks you dry and tries to kill you, for the afternoon race around 11:45. It’s always so nerve wracking to be sitting there in staging, waiting to start. All I can think about is how much I have to pee, how my helmet is too heavy, how much I’m already sweating. And then magically…we start and there is nothing but the road ahead and the wheel in my hands.
Pepper was fantastic in the car, calling corners and cautions, encouraging me to throttle down and pass (Trophy Trucks! We passed Trophy Trucks and Class 1 cars!), and telling me patience when Christine’s rear end started kicking out. And the end result? First in class and the car was still running. Holy crap! And I was so close to getting a 40mph average but alas 39.5mph was all that was to be had.
So what is next? I need to take stock of money and schedules and see if we can squeeze in one more race. We are really focusing on raising money for the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, a 9 day all female rally in Morocco with no GPS. You can buy a calendar or donate at www.rally.org/teamcouragegazelles
At one point during this weekend I said to my dad, “What day is it?” To which he replied, “Saturday.” To which I asked, “Day or night?” It was just that kind of weekend. In three days we drove LA-Barstow-Parker-Parker Strip-Parker-Anaheim-Venice Beach-Barstow-Hacienda Heights-LA-red eye to DC.
I left DC late Thursday afternoon on a ticket I had earned by refashioning a pal’s pink gorilla suit to get it ready for her boyfriend for Mardi Gras (I swear I can’t make this stuff up). At LAX I picked up the 2012 Audi A5, with a manual transmission thank you baby Jesus, to review for Roadfly. From there I drove up to Victorville and met Dad. Early the next morning we were off to tech for Parker 425.
Now before you get all excited, this is not a race report. The trip to Parker was merely to See and Be Seen. I met up with, Michele, my navigator for the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles in Morocco. For those of you not in the know, this year we were planning on running the Gazelle rally, a 9 day adventure similar to Dakar except it’s all female, points are awarded for shortest distance not fastest time, and no GPS is allowed. All navigation is done with an outdated map and a compass. Unfortunately Michele needs to have some surgery so our plans are on hold. You can read the whole story at www.teamcouragegazlles.com But we wanted to make it out to Parker to show the off road community that we are still determined to run with the Gazelles.
So we worked tech. I mean we WORKED it! We talked to the Fast Aid guys, we joked around with the Dirt Sports Magazine dudes, we chilled with Azunia Tequila, shot the bs with the guys from Major Performance Engines, checked in with PCI race radios…hell we even discussed how Dakar could be promoted better in North America with Darren Skilton. But enough of the shameless name dropping. Let’s just say we had a great time. For my twitter followers, I tried to get some pics out but the network was so crowded it was impossible.
We spent the night north of Parker at some old time race guy’s house and I remember something about a jacuzzi and my dad acting like a turtle on his back and that’s really all you need to know about Friday night.
The next day we had to get to Anaheim by 3pm to meet with a potential partner, but we knew we HAD to watch some of the race. There was an awesome spot where the cars would go under highway 95, race the largest part of the loop, then come back under 95. You caught them coming and going. So there we were, just chilling and we hear, “Oh man the Hall Ass Racing truck is here? Hide your beer, everyone!” It was Randy, Carol, and Guy, some old neighbors from San Felipe. What a small, small, world.
If you haven’t watched an off road race before, its a little different than a pavement race. Spectators are required to stay off the course, but there are still no barriers between you and the cars. This means that it can be quite dangerous, as evidenced by the California 200 tragedy a few years ago. However, Best in the Desert did a great job keeping everyone safe. The safety guy in our area made sure everyone was a safe distance from the course, and when this bozo couple tried to cross from one side to the other he was ON them like stink on poop. They returned to their place much maligned, as they should have been. A hot course is a hot course, and just because you can hear these guys and see their dust before they get to you, doesn’t give you, as a spectator, carte blanche to just walk across the lines.
Alas we couldn’t stay long as we had to get to Anaheim. I don’t want to say too much about it as we are still negotiating, but a few weeks ago I got a call from a speciality fabrication company who expressed interest in partnering with us. It’s a family owned company and dad and I had a blast meeting everyone. We were even their guests at the Supercross that night. Expect a fairly big announcement soon, but for now all I will say is that we are looking forward to hammering out the details.
After a quick sleep in Anaheim it was off to Venice to pick up the new race car. Now let me start off my saying that this whole weekend was an exercise in herding cats. I had to make sure we met up with Michele at the designated time, then she and I split off from dad at tech so we had to coordinate meeting times, figure out where we would sleep that night. Getting dad out the door on Saturday morning was a bit of a chore (his goodbyes tend to be a little long), then we had to separate ourselves from the Old Gang at the race and make it to Anaheim on time, and find a place to crash that night.
So the final hurdle was getting the car up to Barstow for a little testing. Skiny, who raced the car in the Baja 1000 as part of his Gentlemen’s Guide to Racing series, had it in storage in Venice Beach, but he had to go out to Vegas that Friday. It was ridiculous to think he could drive from Vegas to LA, pick up the car, then bring it back to Barstow, so we did what Gentlepeople of Racing do: Skiny called his girlfriend, she gave us the keys and the title, we hitched the car up to the truck and brought her up to Barstow. Now, we had met Skiny before, but I don’t know a lot of people that would trust 2 people to basically steal his car and bring it to an appointed place in the middle of the desert. But trust us he did and when Skiny came up behind us about a mile away from the Slash X, we knew it was cosmic fate.
The throwout bearing is bad in the car, so when Skiny took off with me as co-dawg, she made an awful, awful noise! But once she started there was no stopping! With the longer wheel base she handles the whoops SO much better than our 5 unlimited. It’s not necessarily more powerful, but she could definitely run through the whoops better. There’s no speedometer in the car, but on the flat I’d say we were up to 70 mph or so…and this is with a motor that hasn’t been prepped since the 1000. Major Performance built the engine originally and they know the car well. They said the car SMOKED all the other 1600s in Vegas to Reno a few years ago. Same engine as we have now. That’s not to say that I’ll do the same thing, of course. Getting the most out of this car is going to be a challenge. I’ll have to change my mind set to realize that whoops may or may not mean “slow down”.
I took a little bit of video while we were out there. I need to do just a bit of editing, but I was on that red eye last night. Even though my pal upgraded me to first class on the way home, I probably only slept two hours. Just rolled right from the airport to work. So video will happen tomorrow, probably. The entire photo album is up on my Facebook page for your enjoyment. But for now, this is Mega Monkey Motorsports™, off to find my bed after a whirlwind weekend of dirty fun!
I went to Colorado to see family for the holidays and had plans to drive up to Glenwood Springs to see Michele. Well, 18 inches of snow put the kibosh on that and by the time the roads were good I had family obligations I had to attend to. Ah, crap! Michele and I did get a chance to talk on the phone a few times, and the short story is that due to complications with Michele’s breast reconstruction, we have to postpone our bid for the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles in Morocco until 2013. I don’t want to go into it here because we are both bummed, but know that we will take this year to get tight with manufacturers, expand our social media network, and continue fundraising for breast cancer research. You can read Michele’s post about it at www.teamcouragegazelles.com and as always you can follow us on Twitter @couragegazelles and friend us at www.facebook.com/teamcouragegazelles.