The 2019 Rebelle Rally: FJ Heaven

The 2019 Rebelle Rally: FJ Heaven

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Photos By Mercedes Lilienthal

From guts and glory to disparity and even defeat, Rebelle women are strong.They face every kind of emotion when competing in the all-women’s traditional navigational rally known as the Rebelle Rally. Trust me, I know.  I rallied a 2012 Toyota Tacoma for 1,600 off-road miles in last year’s competition.  Kathy Locke (Creative Director for TCT Magazine and a competitor this year) covered the Toyotas as media last year, including the one I drove. This year I’m covering the event as media and essentially switched roles with her.


SIDE NOTE: For details on what is has been like to trade places, see my full SIDE NOTE: For details on what is has been like to trade places, see my full article on (LINK: vehicles out numbered each of the three previous years! They had their strongest showing yet. From FJs and Tacomas, to Tundras and Land Cruisers, each team was different, competent, and awesome. In this issue ofmy multi-issue series, I’ll highlight four uniquely built FJ Cruisers.

The 2019 Rebelle Rally: FJ Heaven

Team:#130 Front Range Rebelles

Driver:Kathy Locke (rookie)

Navigator:Stacey May (rookie)

Vehicle:2008 FJ Cruiser

Build list:

•Toytec Aluma 2.0 Boss suspension in front with SPC upper control arms

•3”lift; Boss series in rear

•Goodyear Wrangler Ultraterrain tires, stock tire size of 265/75/16

•Rad Rubber Design engine splash guards

•RotopaX mount / fire extinguisher mount from Refined Cycle and Off Road

The 2019 Rebelle Rally: FJ Heaven

Kathy, Toyota Cruisers & Trucks’ Creative Director, teamed up with her good friend Stacey to compete this year. Both are mountain girls from Colorado.They love being outside in wide open spaces, and always seem to make “crazy unexpected events and even big mistakes” into joyful moments with each other. Stacey, an artist, photographer, and lover of the outdoors, was ecstatic to compete with her friend. When asked why they wanted to compete in the Rebelle, Stacey exclaimed “I’m looking to reconnect with the confident, risk taker that I know I am! To break out of my comfort zone and push past the ‘I’m not good enough’ mantra that comes to the forefront too much lately—that doesn’t feel like me.” Kathy, on the other hand, became fascinated with the Rebelle Rally back in 2017 when Tiffany Walker and Rori Lewis competed. Tiffany, also from Colorado, drove an FJ Cruiser, and after watching the team compete in 2017 and then covering them and the other Toyota teams as media for TCT Magazine in 2018, she made the decision. “I knew I needed to do it and I knew Stacey would be a great navigator,” she exclaimed. She was right.

What was the easiest thing for you during the rally?

KL:Making sure Stacey had what she needed because being the navigator is really freakin’ hard. Getting her coffee, water, food, marking highways on the maps, or writing down open and close times for check points, reading coordinates to her, etc. Anything to make her job easier was all I was trying to do!

SM:One easy thing that was such a joy was how Kathy (my amazing, generous, beautiful spirit-of-a-woman teammate) and I got along so seamlessly, a real easy energy between us throughout the whole rally. Even during some stressed out moments and some intense frustration we never thought those emotions were directed at the other.

Any unexpected things happen?

KL:I actually started liking enduros, not that we were winning them, but that they were fun to try and figure out as we were driving. Just communicating how far we needed to go in what amount of time turned out to be a fun challenge. 

SM: During tech inspection, we had oil or something leaking underneath the whole under carriage everything was wet. We found a place that’d take us if we could get there in the next hour. We were about to leave but asked Chris Woo to have a look. He said it was definitely oil but [it] was full so it seemed weird to see that much when it wasn’t leaking. After investigation, he called Kathy over. Both our hearts sank, we imagined the worst. Kathy yells, "Oh my god. Are you kidding me?!?" There was a bottle of oil stuck down in the engine bay. We got it out, it was melted on one side ... must’ve been full and leaked all over as we drove from Denver to Squaw Valley! When Kathy had the oil changed before we left Denver, the guy must have knocked a full bottle into the engine bay and not realized it. Thank you Chris Woo!(It goes to show anything can happen at the Rebelle Rally, no matter how thorough the prep.)

What did you learn from this experience?

KL: I learned I’m braver, stronger, and more capable than I give myself credit for. I learned sometimes my biggest fears turn out to be pretty small and to trust I can work through them. I also learned the pros or higher ranking teams make mistakes and to not be so hard on myself.

SM: Kathy and I had blended our strengths and personalities into one. Decisions made were for us both, mistakes made for us both, and triumphs were for us both! I have a note taped on my nav box that says“Dear brain, please shut up!” My own thoughts and self-critique can be my biggest obstacles. Most of the time I find it’s easier to be kind to others but we need to be kind to ourselves, too.

The 2019 Rebelle Rally: FJ Heaven

Team:#105 Mile High Spirit

Driver:Anna Loy (rookie)

Navigator:Chris Cole (rookie)

Vehicle:2012 TTE FJ Cruiser

Build list:

•Suspension equivalent to an Icon Vehicle Dynamics Stage 10 setup (dual shocks up front, TC LCAs and UCAs)

•Goodyear MTR 285/70 R16 tires

•Rhino Rack with pod lights (in the back)

•Demello Off-Road aluminum front bumper and rear swing out bumper

•VTX custom powdercoated wheels

•Rigid light bar holder with Baja Design lights

•DB Customz cowl LED bracket with Baja Design lights and front grille

•Rock lighting (under vehicle)

•RCI steel skid plates

•Lenz design snorkel

•Bushwacker fender flares

•2-Way air system

•Sprint Booster

•Stacks Cargo system (in the back)

•Dirty Deeds red sliders

•On-board air compressor (installed by Rogue Offroad)

•Lifetime LED headlights

•Ellis Precision custom shift knobs

•Gzila custom handles (inside vehicle)

•Trigger system

The 2019 Rebelle Rally: FJ Heaven

Originally hailing from southern California but born in the Philippines, Anna’s parents immigrated to the US when she was just over one-year-old. Fast forward to current status, and she’s a nurse of over 20 years with a passion to travel. Anna partnered up with Chris, a Colorado native who grew up in the mountains of Estes Park (one of my favorite places to mountain bike!). Chris also loves the outdoors (camp, wheeling, etc.) and has a daughter that loves to adventure with her.

Chris met Anna via social media, specifically the COFJC group on Facebook. Anna was headed to Overland Expo West one year and found out Chris was working it. Anna swung by her booth to meet her. Their second meeting came again at FJ summit. Anna wanted to do the Rebelle Rally and figured it couldn’t hurt to ask Chris. They both owned FJs (Chris owns a 2013 FJ with Stage 7 Icon suspension on it)—they had a common love for their vehicles and both have daughters. Need I say more?

Is there anything that sets you apart from the rest of the teams?

AL: Chris says we’re the OLDEST competitors in the Rebelle Rally this year. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but I believe we have a goal of just having a ton of fun out there with the other Rebelles! We’re in this to grow and experience something new in our lives. Our motto: Life’s an adventure. I’ve also never camped in my life so this will be a new experience for me!

CC: Being as "old" as Anna and I are ... we grew up with maps. There was no GPS on the computer—I drove around with a map! If I got lost, it was up to me to find my way. Anna and I were doing this rally as a "Let the Adventure Begin" journey for us!

What was the most challenging thing during the rally?

AL: Going without a shower for days. After [the Rebelle Rally] I think I did great camping. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be ... lol. It’s not my first choice but I know I could do it if I had to.

CC: The camping and staying focused. Not miss my daughter (she is 14years old).

Were you prepared for the Rebelle Rally?

AL: Overall we were prepared but not for the grueling long hours in the truck looking for check points.

CC: I was prepared, as far as the plotting and compass work, I was not prepared for the amount of stress it all involved.

The 2019 Rebelle Rally: FJ Heaven

Team: #148 Waypoint Wanderers

Driver: Anna Lewis (2017 and 2019 Rebelle)

Navigator: Andrea Shaffer (2016, 2017, and 2019 Rebelle)

Vehicle: 2014 FJ Cruiser

Build list:

•Metal Tech 4x4 front and rear tube bumper

•Metal Tech 4x4 kick-out sliders

•Ricochet Offroad aluminum skids

•Total Chaos +2 Race Series long travel

•King coilovers and rear shocks

•King triple bypass shocks

•Metal Tech 4x4 lower links

•Icon Vehicle Dynamics Expedition springs

•Dirty Parts 4x4 rear swaybar links

•King rear bumpstops

•Timbren front bumpstops

•BF Goodrich KO2 35x12.5x17 tires

•FN Overlander Spec B wheels

•Nitro Gear 4.88 gears

•Lifetime LED: high output headlights, 40" double light bar, 30" single lightbar, driving lights, and marker bulbs for mirrors

•Prinsu roof rack

•Rugged Bound Supply’s Ostrich wing awning

•Man a fre auxiliary fuel tank

•TJM snorkel/air Intake

•GearBox w/ slide-out drawers

•Engo 9,500lb winch

•MAXTRAX recovery boards

•Factor 55 orange Flatlink and Hitchlink

•Orange Boxx Fabrication steel box

•Springtail Solutions molle table rack

•Dometic Refrigerator/Freezer

•MSA 4x4 drop slide

•MBRP SS high tuck cat-back exhaust

•ARB twin compressor

•Bushwhacker fender flares

•Custom Toyota Baja racing inspired wrap

The 2019 Rebelle Rally: FJ Heaven

Anna and Andrea met each other while they rallied with other teammates in the 2017 Rebelle Rally. Between the pair, they own five Toyotas. Knowing the capabilities of the vehicles and the ins and outs of what they’re capable of (as driver and navigator) is important.

Why did you decide to compete in the Rebelle Rally?

AL: After having competed in the Rebelle Rally in past years, we can truly say that the rally gets in your blood! Last year was torture for Andrea and me as we watched the live feed and realized we would do great together if we teamed up to compete again in 2019.

AS: I love this event, and want to challenge myself to do better each time! Ialso love the women competing and the bonds we all create. How did you do during the rally?

AL: We met our goal! Andrea and I went into the 2019 Rebelle Rally wanting to place in the top 10. We ended up as number 10 when all the scores we're finally tabulated. I think we did really well. Each day got better, we went for almost all of the black check points, and learned what worked for us. On the Enduro challenges, we were almost perfect in our scoring.

AS: We finished 10th and felt amazing! Our goal was to finish in the top 10, and we did it!

What was the coolest part(s) of the rally?

AL: It was wonderful reconnecting with past Rebelles we had met in previousrallies.The base camps were gorgeous, but my favorite was the base campat Johnson Valley, nestled within the rocks at Cougar Buttes.I was outside ofthe tent at 4am that morning—the sky was magical with cloud formations and the amazing rock structure we’re camped within.

The 2019 Rebelle Rally: FJ Heaven

Team: #154 Team RLT (Roads Less Traveled)

Driver: Tiffany Walker (2017, 2018, and 2019 Rebelle)

Navigator: Rori Lewis (2017, 2018, and 2019 Rebelle)

Vehicle: 2008 TTE FJ Cruiser

Build list:

•2" Expedition Series kit from Total Chaos

•Adjustable King shocks

•RCI skid plates and rear differential cover

•Custom aluminum front and rear bumper

•Engo 10,000lb winch

•Prinsu low profile roof rack


•Pro Eagle 'The Beast' off-road jack

•Baja Designs light pods/light bar

•Rigid light pods


•ICO rally computer

•Custom rear storage box from Elite Auto Salon

•ACO fridge with 3D Off-Road custom mount

•RotopaX water cans

The 2019 Rebelle Rally: FJ Heaven

Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas now living in Colorado Springs, Tiffany was introduced to Rori through Nicole Pitell-Vaughan, co-founder of Total Chaos. Rori works on the Chaos team as an administrative assistant and Tiffany has known Nicole for almost 10 years. “Nicole put us in touch and it just clicked! The first time we competed in the Rebelle, we only met each other in person twice before! Now, we can't imagine competing in this event with anyone else,” Tiffany exclaimed.

Rori loves her job at Total Chaos. She gets to work four days a week, run their social media program, and can off-road on the weekends for events, training,or even just for fun. Rori has been competitive all her life. This started with her sisters, and then escalated into trying every sport she could, which ended up getting her a full ride scholarship to Northern Oklahoma College playing softball. Having the Chaos connection and hitting it off with each other sealed the deal for them competing in the Rebelle together.

How did you do during the rally (how did you place, how did you feel)?

TW: We ended up in 4th place, only three points behind 3rd. What we embrace is we put in a 2nd place performance (more on that in a minute...). We're both thrilled with and proud of how we competed!

RL: Beyond proud of the rally we had. What we over came personally and as a team. Any unexpected things happen?

TW: Well, it certainly wasn't planned: I put the hand held tracker (which calculates your score) on the bumper while Rori had her map board on the hood. We needed to move 100 more yards, so we jumped in and took off. We realized the tracker had likely fallen off when we moved, I drove back to find it. Without having looked where we were, I accidentally ran over the tracker. That was the hardship I mentioned previously—we had to just let go and keep pressing on.

RL: I think my “TBird” hit that one pretty well for the unexpected but it didn’t stop us!

What did you learn from this experience?

TW: Each year, I learn more about myself and my teammate, how we can continually learn from each other in both the good and the bad. The learning for me is coming post-event. I could dwell on the dreaded tracker debacle but I've been working hard to embrace what was really, really good about this year—our performance overall was the best we've ever done! Day 7 in Glamis was an epic experience with some incredible women (you know whoyou are, Team Wild Grace and Team BeTini).

RL: I learned a few more awesome tips to help me navigate better and figure out timing on enduros! I also learned no matter how big of a competition, creating relationships and bonds with other teams is always important. You never know when you’ll need someone’s assistance!



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