All three Ford teams finish with Shelby Hall and Penny Dale taking first-in-class
By Sue Mead:
When the dust settled after 2,500 kilometers of rigorous competition, Shelby Hall and Penny Dale drove their Ford Bronco Sport team vehicle to victory in the 2020 Rebelle Rally. Ford entered three Bronco Sport teams; all motored in stock Badlands 4 x 4 models and competed in the X-Cross Class (the Rebelle’s 4 x 4 Class requires low range gearing) and all finished the 5th-annual rally that started near the shores of Lake Tahoe, Nevada and ended this weekend in California’s Imperial Sand Dunes.
It was Ford’s first participation in the 10-day, female-only rally raid that is the longest navigational competition in the United States; it’s gained acclaim for the combination of spectacular scenery, rugged motoring and challenging navigation; this year’s event has been described as its toughest to date.
Hall, a professional off-road racer whose grandfather Rod Hall was a legendary Baja winner and drove Ford Broncos to fame during his decades-long career, and Dale, an experienced navigator and rally participant, were first-place finishers. After leading from the start, the duo faced struggles two days before the rally’s end and fought valiantly and successfully to regain top footing in a close race for points on the final day. Ford employees Jovina Young, Bronco Sport Brand Manager, and Erica Martin, Ford’s Marketing Communications Manager for SUVs, placed fifth, while Elana Scherr, of Car and Driver Magazine, and experienced off-roader Betsy Anderson, crossed the line in sixth place.
The Rebelle is geared for both ‘newbie’ and experienced competitors; this year it drew 36 teams and nine automakers. 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 find their way to checkpoints with varying degrees of difficulty using only a compass, maps, and roadbooks. Not a race for speed, the Rebelle rewards precision driving and navigating and travels through designated open off-highway vehicle areas, using Tread Lightly! motoring and backcountry principals, along its course through swaths of America’s spectacular backcountry on a mix of dirt roads, off-road trails and desert sand.
“Just finishing Rebelle is an impressive feat – we’re proud of all three Bronco Sport teams,” said Mark Grueber, Bronco brand marketing manager. “The results really underscore that Bronco Sport delivers, both for seasoned pros and off-road novices. All of these women embody what Built Wild™ stands for, and the first-place finish by Shelby and Penny helps establish this all-new vehicle as the Bronco of small SUVs.”
“It’s hard to believe it’s already over, but it
was a long eight days of competition,” said Hall, during a Zoom call with Bronco Nation at the finish. “I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to drive one of the first Bronco Sports and honestly didn’t know what to expect, as I just got in it shortly before the rally began. It handled really well and I loved the fact that we had air conditioning and such a comfortable ride, which is not something I have ever experienced as a racer before,” enthused Hall, who pointed out that temperatures had soared to 106 degrees in the desert.
“The six of us didn’t know each other going into the rally—and didn’t know the Bronco Sport-but everything gelled,” said Dale. “Although we could only offer support and guidance in general to our other Bronco teams, we became a family during some really tough days and realized we were all in this together. Despite the fact that the vehicle is stock, it got us everywhere we needed to go, including over some intense terrain.”
“It’s no power-puff derby!” laughed Scherr, “I had no idea how much was required to make it through the Rebelle, but we all made it and the Broncos can still drive us home after a very tough competition. Teammate Anderson said they pushed the stock vehicle to its limits and were impressed with its competence and “no flats”! The pair enjoyed spending time during their final day of the rally helping other teams that were stuck or lost.
Neophytes Young and Martin were “elated, proud and emotional” at the finish. “The Bronco Sport was our third teammate and it pulled us through. We had no idea at the start how to use a compass or drive off-road, so we learned and experienced a lot. The pair were impressed with the SUV’s mechanical prowess and its roominess, with ample stowage for all their gear and goods they needed to be self-sufficient on the rally—plus store their special outfits for the final evening’s gala. “We even used the power port in the Bronco to plug in a curling iron to prepare for the Rebelle’s gala!”
“I was so honored that Ford joined the rally this year with three competitive teams,” said Emily Miller, Rebelle Rally founder. “The Bronco Sport is exactly the type of vehicle we love to have participate, as one of our goals is to teach women that the vehicle in their driveway can be far more capable than you might imagine. This year’s event was a pressure cooker with 1,500 miles of rugged terrain over eight days of competition with a course that increased in difficulty for each day of competition, in terms of both navigation and driving skills. It was rewarding to see every vehicle cross the finish line.”
“Hall and Dale turned in an exceptional performance staying laser-focused and making the Bronco Sport’s capabilities shine throughout the rally,” added.
Of note: Hall and Dale won the Rebelle’s Tire Change Challenge after the rally ended; they posted the quickest time, changing a tire on their Bronco Sport in only three minutes and seven seconds.
For further information about the Rebelle Rally, go to rebellerally.com
Sue Mead is an automotive journalist and a member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. She has been a professional off-roader for 30+ years, including involvement in racing and expeditions around the globe[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]