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Monday, 25 April 2011

Rallye Aicha des Gazelles: Interview with Emily Miller

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Emily Miller is an off-road racer who believes that “life is a tremendous
adventure.” With previous podium wins behind her belt, she recently
placed second in the race “Rallye Aicha des Gazelles” located in
France and Morocco, which was held over March 19 to April 2, 2011. The
carbon-neutral race is far from traditional: without the help of GPS,
binoculars or cell phones, navigators must rely on only a compass and
a scale map. The stages are won not by best time but by the driver who
finishes in the shortest driven distance.

What was the road that led you into this profession?

It was really a dream I had since I was a kid, so it was amazing honor
when Rod asked me to drive for Rod Hall Racing.

I was actually selected by Rod Hall to race for his GM Factory team.
He is a legend in the sport and trained me through the process.  He
said it was easier to take someone who has some of the right skills
and attitude and train them to be a driver, as opposed to taking an
existing driver and breaking them out of their bad habits.

What skill set is involved?

Many skill sets are involved: strategy development, goal setting,
listening and communicating, motivating your teammate when necessary,
the ability to make quick decisions and take responsibility for those
decisions, physical and mental endurance, and organizational skills.
Racing really forces you to take a look at your real strengths and
weaknesses, as it magnifies each one.

What races have you participated in?

Many races including several Baja 1000s, Vegas to Reno(s), Primm,
Terrible’s 250, Parker 425, XO 250, 3 Gazelle Rallies, etc.

What was this race like in particular? What were your thoughts going into it?

This race was particularly challenging because it is so long. Each day
was very long – sunrise to sunset or later, every day.  It was also
different because it is all about strategy and decision making.
Sometimes I had to go slow, sometimes very fast, and encountered every
different type of terrain imaginable.  The race forced me to think
straight despite fatigue. I had to manage my vehicle to ensure it held
up over nine days - without the kind of nightly prep that you would in
a normal race.

I had to determine what the vehicle could handle and then manage the
vehicle for the duration of the race through good navigation strategy.
We had a completely stock truck with no modifications, so I knew this
would be very important.  I also didn’t know what to expect with a new
navigator that I really didn’t know.  It turned out that she was
incredibly talented at her job, we got along perfectly.

What is your favorite part about racing?

The team aspect for one.  As a driver, you are just a piece of the
whole team.  You realize in off-road racing that your crew is
absolutely critical to performance. The thing I like about racing is
the amount of focus and concentration you have to put into it over a
long period of time.  You literally try to find that edge and stay
there for hours on end.  Plus, you often have to deal with some type
of challenge which pushes you to really problem solve.

How supportive are family and friends?

I am very fortunate to have very supportive friends and family.
Everyone is positive.  My husband is especially supportive and
tolerant of what is a crazy schedule between work and racing.

What suggestions do you have for those who want to start racing?

One, be patient, it takes time to learn and apply the lessons you
learn.  Two, run your own race and don’t worry about the others.
Three, it isn’t easy or inexpensive, so if you want it don’t get

What life-lessons have come out of your career?

I’ve learned to stay calm and focused. There’s a lot of problem
solving to get to the finish.  Also, I’ve learned the importance of
preparation so problems are kept to a minimum.  Nothing beats great
teamwork, preparation and a good attitude.

(c)Nate Marcus

For more information on Emily and upcoming events, visit her website

For more information on the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles:

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012
Nate Marcus

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