- Lilly Macaruso and Alex Anderson secured a historic victory at the 2023 Rebelle Rally, triumphing in the electric Rivian R1T – the first-ever EV to achieve this milestone.
- The Rebelle Rally is a challenging 10-day event where precision driving and navigation are key, covering 1500 miles with only maps and compasses.
- Lilly and Alex received the coveted Bone Stock Award for their outstanding performance, showcasing the Rivian R1T’s capabilities.
During the L.A. Auto Show’s Media Day, I encountered a stock Rivian R1T, fresh from its victory in the Rebelle Rally. Driven by Lilly Macaruso and navigated by Alex Anderson, this electric truck was thoughtfully modified for the challenging event. The Rebelle Rally, conceived by Emily Miller, is a 10-day challenge emphasizing precision driving and navigation over speed, covering over 1500 miles in California and Nevada with maps and compasses as the only tools. Macaruso and Anderson made history by winning the Rally in an electric vehicle (EV), the Rivian R1T, and also received the prestigious Bone Stock Award, showcasing the vehicle’s capabilities. Their journey represents the triumph of skill, strategy, and resilience, redefining women’s motorsport by emphasizing navigation and mental fortitude over pure speed.
Of the few modifications they made to the truck, the biggest was removing the rear seats to have even more storage for their needed gear, as well as making the tailgate into a flat surface for spreading out maps and planning their route.
Challenging Terrain, Precision Navigation, and Diverse Vehicles: The Rebelle Rally Experience
The Rebelle Rally is the brainchild of Emily Miller, a former off-road racer and driving instructor. The first event was held in 2016. Miller, who has an extensive background in off-road racing, including participating in the famous Dakar Rally, created the Rebelle Rally with a vision to provide a platform for women to compete in a demanding and professional off-road navigational challenge. The idea was to create an event that focused on precision driving and navigation skills, rather than just speed.
It’s a 10-day event, with 8 days of 10-12 hours of driving in stages in the California and Nevada deserts, covering over 1500 miles over a variety of desert, mountain trails and dunes. Competitors are only able to use maps and compases to navigate the course, no GPS-enabled devices can be used, and they have to make it through specific checkpoints. They’re not even allowed to have their phones, instead communicating through Iridium satellite radios.
A Test of Skills, Strategy, and Vehicle Diversity
The course is designed to test not only driving and navigation skills but also the endurance and decision-making abilities of the competitors. Each year, the course is kept secret until the start of the rally, adding an element of surprise and strategy.
Vehicles used in the race are all over the map. There are expected vehicles, like the gas-powered Land Rover Discovery and Ford Bronco and Jeeps, but there are also EVs, like Macaruso and Anderson’s R1T. Covering over 1500 miles means fuel stops for the ICE vehicles, and charging stops for the EVs. Macaruso told me they’d charge as much as they could when other vehicles were charging up, not waiting for a full charge each time.
The terrain is challenging, and the teams must work together to get to the checkpoints, and also to get unstuck if they get stuck. There are available mechanics and safety/rescue teams for everyone, and there are some creature comforts at the base camp for each stage, including bathrooms and showers, as well as meals.
Rivian Engineers Lilly Macaruso and Alex Anderson: A Winning Team at the 2023 Rebelle Rally
Navigator Alex Anderson grew up in Northern Michigan and is a self-proclaimed off-roader and “tinkerer”. She lives in Escondido, CA and is a Senior Mechanical Engineer at Rivian. Driver Lilly Macaruso lives in Irvine, CA and is a Special Projects Engineer at Rivian. They work at the same company and now have a special bond because of the Rally.
This is the second Rebelle Rally for the pair. Last year, they managed to get 4th place and won Rookie of the Year with the highest ever ranking. This year, they wanted to finish well. They didn’t expect to win, but they did. This was the first time in the history of the Rally that an EV won.
Not only did they win the race, but also the Bone Stock Award, with the highest-scoring stock vehicle in the competition. Four teams in all drove Rivian R1Ts, taking 1st, 11th, 20th and 30th places. There were a total of 62 teams that competed in 2023.
Says Macaruso, “All the vehicles we competed in this year are the same as the vehicles you would have in your driveway.”
The triumph of Lilly Macaruso and Alex Anderson at the 2023 Rebelle Rally is a remarkable story of skill, strategy, and resilience. It underscores the essence of the Rebelle Rally – a competition where navigation skill, strategic planning, and mental fortitude triumph over speed. Their victory is not just a personal achievement but a source of inspiration and a significant milestone in the landscape of women’s motorsport.
IMAGES: RIVIAN, TONY DONALDSON
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