SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CALIF. – This won’t be a typical week at the office for work-from-home mothers Sedona Blinson and Leah Heffelfinger. But it will be filled with terrain familiar to the Nissan Armada. And Blinson and Heffelfinger, co-captains of Team Wild Grace, hope that fact will provide them a leg up on the competition as they traverse more than 1,500 miles of stunning off-road terrain in California and Nevada as participants in the 2018 Rebelle Rally.
The first women’s off-road navigation rally in the United States, the Rebelle Rally begins Oct. 11 in Lake Tahoe and concludes Oct. 20 in San Diego.
“The Armada draws its heritage from the global Nissan Patrol – an SUV known around the world as a King of the Desert – and is a natural fit to succeed in an off-roading challenge like the Rebelle Rally,” said Tiago Castro, director of trucks and SUVs, Nissan North America. “We are excited to watch Leah and Sedona take on the competition and show off Armada’s authentic capability as a partner in any adventure.”
Blinson, a veteran driver who has competed in the rally twice before, and Heffelfinger met at Overland Expo West five years ago and first participated in the Rebelle Rally as a team in 2017 with a Nissan Frontier PRO-4X.
“That little truck was amazing. Its light-weight stature and small footprint made it easy to manage through the tough terrain,” said Heffelfinger, an adventure-seeker from California who now resides in Flagstaff, Arizona. “What I’m really looking forward to this year, though, are the plush seats of the Armada along with its significant ground clearance.”
Team Wild Grace’s 2018 Armada Platinum is stock with the exception of a full set of dirt-grabbing Nitto Ridge Grappler tires – perfect for gripping sand and hauling through the Nevada and California deserts. It is also wrapped in a custom-designed vehicle wrap completed by IF Signs.
Heffelfinger and Blinson will spend up to 13 hours each day in the Armada. Per the rally’s rules, no electronic devices are permitted except for rudimentary digital cameras. Teams will use maps and a compass to weave their way through some of the most scenic and challenging terrain America has to offer.
It also means Heffelfinger and Blinson will be out of touch with family for over a week.
“We’re allowed physical photos and that’s about it,” said Heffelfinger. “It’s tough to be away from home without contact for so long, but it’s our chance to get out and do something that’s just for us.”
After finishing outside of the top 10 last year, the team fully intends to improve its ranking this year behind the wheel of the Armada.
“We take the rally quite seriously and spend hours polishing up our analog navigational skills leading up to the rally,” added Heffelfinger. “We’ve been working through previous years’ maps and are in an excellent spot for this year.”
Follow along with Team Wild Grace on its Instagram or Facebook channels, and track the team live on rebellerally.com/live starting Friday, Oct. 12. For more information on the 2019 Nissan Armada and Nissan’s complete vehicle lineup, please visit NissanNews.com.