Kaleigh Hotchkiss’ 2016 Ladies Co-Driver Challenge Experience
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Kaleigh Hotchkiss’ 2016 Ladies Co-Driver Challenge Experience


Kaleigh HotchkissThis is my path to learning about the challenge and subsequently applying for it is a testament to the power of social media.

Social Media Flash Number 1:
On January 7, Bailey Campbell posted an Instagram picture that she and her mother were headed to Ocotillo Wells for a three day navigation training. Intrigued, I read the comments and came to found out that she was training for Rebelle Rally which I had never heard about, so I started following their Instagram page. After seeing a couple of provoking photos of theirs posted over the next week, I got curious and started researching. I am new to the concept of Rallying, and I started reading about not just the Rebelle Rally, but also the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles. I was floored – all these women doing all these amazing things! I rapidly started texting my fellow off-road loving girlfriends, encouraging them to read about it, and convince someone (anyone!) to join me in IMG_1049signing up. Well unfortunately, I had jumped the gun a little – none of us had a vehicle that would survive, or the funds necessary to participate. Pouting ensued (my boyfriend can confirm this).

Social Media Flash Number 2:
On February 24, Charlene posted a video about an all-girls weekend in Glamis that had taken place for navigation and driving training. I tagged a couple of girlfriends, hoping that maybe we could participate if another class was offered in the future. Queue a lot more texting – “Who is Charlene?” “Do you know her?” “How do we sign up?” “That sounds so fun!” I encouraged them to follow her pages and keep an eye out for upcoming events.

Social Media Flash Number 3:
Kaleigh HotchkissOn March 22 I get a text from one my friends mentioned above. “Did you see the post on Facebook I just tagged you in!? Charlene is having a contest – you could still go to the Rebelle!” I rushed to watch the video as angels were singing in my head. I was going to apply, no hesitation.

But then reality sunk in. I knew the first step was getting votes. This was a hurdle for me – I purposefully limit my friends on Instagram and Facebook, I keep everything on private, I don’t connect with any coworkers (intentionally), and I generally try to lay LOW on social media. And then I slowly started to talk myself out of it – could I really take the time off work? How could I ever get picked over these awesome women with so much experience? What if by some miracle I do get picked and then make a fool of myself? My halfway completed application ended up in the trashcan.

Kaleigh HotchkissThankfully, my sweet and supportive boyfriend talked me off the ledge. He promised to help me arrange my schedule, train on anything I wanted to learn, and help me with the social media. It was important to me and he saw right through my excuses.

Well it turns out that the document was still sitting in my electronic “trashcan” and so I got back to work and sent it in. It had been an emotional roller coaster and the contest hadn’t even started!

Shortly after, the first phase started: Social Media Votes of Confidence. I spent more time on social media in one week than probably the last 5 years combined! I made my page public and started “friending” everyone I knew – even my coworkers. I was sharing the post, tagging friends, texting and e-mailing instructions, and asking every person I saw to please vote. Needless to say, it was a LONG week. Thursday night, we left for Oklahoma for a race and I knew I would not have good cell reception, and the contest ended midday Friday. I was not able to watch the announcement live, so I put my sister on the case. Shortly after, I received the text – I had made the top 33!

Kaleigh HotchkissThe next round was much less stressful, just a few essay questions and an interview, but once again, I would not be able to hear the live announcement because I was at a conference for work. Thankfully I got several texts congratulating me and it took all of my willpower to not jump out of my seat in the middle of the presentation.

The training weekend arrived quickly – having no clue what we would be doing was surprisingly calming. I just kept telling myself, “It’s just a fun wheeling weekend with some girlfriends you haven’t met yet.” But the weekend was more than I ever could have imagined. Every minute, every action, every guest and every location was perfectly coordinated. We were women on a mission: Learn, learn, learn. When you are doing something that you know will only happen once in your lifetime, you use every brain cell to soak up as much information and as many memories as you possibly can. And while learning new skills was amazing, the truly beautiful part of the whole experience was meeting so many skilled, fun, sweet, funny, caring, thoughtful, and BADASS women.

Kaleigh HotchkissAs of the time of this writing, I don’t know who will be chosen. Do I hope it’s me? Yes, sure I do. We all do! But all of the other nine ladies are also so good and so deserving; I am so excited to be on this journey whether it will be from the passenger seat or as an adoring fan. We all already won.