Since 1990 the Rallye Aicha des Gazelle has been the world's most unique and only all-female rally race. Hailed as the only desert course to rival, and by some accounts surpass the Baja 1000, the Merzouga sand dunes set the scene for the ambitious amateur racers. From all walks of life, racers are pushed beyond their limits as they seek adventure and solidarity while testing their courage as well as physical and mental boundaries. No prize is awarded, speed isn't a factor, it is a race won or lost by distance traveled.
This year there are nine American teams competing against 130+ competitors from all over Europe in the Quadbike, Crossover, Expert and the highly competitive 4x4 class. The Gazelles are a diverse group of women, ranging in age, background, occupation and experience. Last year, Total Chaos' Nicole Pitell-Vaughan pulled a top ten finish, while two two-time X-Games winner Chrissie Beavis brought home the first place prize. This year, Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis teamed-up forming "Team American Chaos, #180".
"We're looking at the podium this year, we have the right truck and the right team." –Nicole Pitell-Vaughan
With 18 years of competition under her belt, Total Chaos Co-Founder and Director of Operations Nicole Pitell-Vaughan is every bit as electric as her reputation. No stranger to the dunes, Pitell-Vaughan's full-throttle attitude propelled her into a top ten finish in Morocco last year. Taking the wheel again this year, Pitell-Vaughan is ready to drive Team #180 to a first place finish.
Chrissie Beavis of X-Games and Travis Pastrana's team #199 fame is one of the most decorated rally racers in America. An architect by day, dedicated to environmentally conscious building practices and designs, Beavis is also the legacy of family steeped in racing heritage. Hooked after her first place finish in 2015, Beavis returns to Morocco this year as American Chaos's navigator.
Training begins months before the race begins. Weight training, cardio, mental preparation and a certain level of soul searching, it's a race of unique requirements. Thoughtfulness and attentiveness must be paired with the brute physical stamina capable of enduring extreme terrain. It's not a sprint, it's an endurance contest of pure strategy.
"People don't realize how hard it is on your body, the driving." Pitell-Vaughan said, "Some days you can spend more hours hiking than driving." The race is won with decisions, planning and scouting, not speed – so the demand is every bit as mental as it is physical.
Despite ample time and every logistical preparation, Team American Chaos' prized Morocco Taco (a Chaos-Charged 2014 Toyota Tacoma) suffered shipping delays. Flying to Spain on faith, Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis awaited their fates as their truck sat with customs agents in Algeciras. With the truck finally cleared, Pitell-Vaughan and The Taco jumped a ferry to Morocco to meet Beavis on March 18th with just enough time for the March 23rd race.
"Last year the limitations of our vehicle in the Crossover class was my biggest concern… I'm much more at ease in the TC Taco."
Chaos-Charged, the Morocco Taco is a 2014 Toyota Tacoma outfitted by Total Chaos in collaboration with TRD parts. A truly unique Tacoma, the Morocco Taco flexes its muscle with a Total Chaos +2 Series Long Travel Kit, King-TC LT 2.5 External Shocks, TRD Wheels and TRD 4.0L SuperCharger and more. With brute power and gazelle-like flexibility, the Morocco Taco is Team American Chaos' third teammate.
"TRD offers the best aftermarket Toyota specific performance parts on the market. Their ability to work directly with the manufacturer allows them to develop equipment that takes a stock factory platform to a racing inspired performance level. I think my TRD super charger is a secret weapon in the Merzouga dunes in Africa! And the TRD wheels* are a great combination to install with the TOTAL CHAOS long travel system to maximize handling and performance."
– Nicole Pitell-Vaughan
Since 1990, the Rallye Aicha des Gazelle has been built on the principles and values of tolerance, solidarity and respect for the host country and it's people. Through actions of the rally's non-profit, and the camaraderie of the racing community, eco stewardship is central to the Gazelle philosophy.
A true Eco-Driving Challenge, Racers are rewarded for driving less, reaffirming intentional thinking and remaining conscious of how decisions effect our global footprint. Strategy over speed, teams are given daily road books that contain the geographical coordinates, headings and distance of the day's checkpoint and finish line. Without GPS they plot their most efficient route. Proudly the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is the only rally in the world with ISO 14001 certification.
Coeur de Gazelles is a non-profit that fosters sustainable development and offers help for people in need. Providing medical, dental and vision care along with supply donations, Coeur de Gazelles operates with the full cooperation of local authorities to strengthen local structure while enabling people to become agents of their own development.
A staple in the Total Chaos stable, Nicole Pitell-Vaughan of Total Chaos boasts that TRD Wheels offer an increased surface improving the contact point. Better contact equals better breaking and over all control – fit for the sand dunes of Morocco.