Canyon Lakers Sara Price and Erica Sacks call themselves the “Teryx Girls.” But they’re about to get another designation, “gazelles,” as they prepare to become the first American team to race a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles in Morocco, Africa from March 20 to April 4.
Calling it “the adventure of a lifetime,” Sara says both she and Erica come from a racing background, but this race isn’t about speed; it’s about driving the shortest distance on an unmarked course without the benefit of modern navigational tools.
Now in its 25th year, the nine-day international race requires participants to find their way through the Sahara desert, described in motortrend.com as a place where “mildly rutted washboard paths quickly give way to fields of huge, sharp volcanic rocks, the kind that like to slice up tire sidewalls. There are unforgiving rocky canyons with patches of sand at the bottom, silty dry riverbeds, and of course, the seemingly endless dunes of the Sahara.”
Sharing the roles of driver and navigator, Sara and Erica will be tackling one of the toughest all-female sporting events on the planet in a factory supported Kawasaki Teryx® Side X Side built by IMG Motorsports.
As some 160 teams from several nations compete in a variety of all-terrain vehicles, the point of the race is to navigate the route with nothing but a map from the 1950s, coordinates and a compass. Other navigational aids such as GPS are not allowed.
The rally tests the will, ability and strategy of the drivers to travel the shortest distance from Point A to Point B, ranging anywhere from 700 to 3,000 miles. The pressure is on the driver to get the vehicle through and over the difficult terrain, but even more pressure is on the navigator, who has to figure out a route without the advantages of modern technology.
Emily Miller, former pro racer and one of the first Americans to participate in this race, is mentoring Sara and Erica along with Kirsten Kuhn, who is the U.S. team/media liaison for the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles.
Sara previously raced for Kawasaki as a professional women’s motocross racer, making history in 2010 as the first ever female factory supported racer in motocross. She achieved more than 16 amateur championships on a Kawasaki during her amateur racing career, as well as medaling in X-Games.
She crossed over into side-by-side racing in 2012, racing many different disciplines in a UTV. At 22 years old, she will be the youngest American to race in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles’ 25-year history.
Sara says, “Racing in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles has been a dream of mine to test my skill and also have this experience of a lifetime. Having a long history working with Erica, from the track to the garage, I feel we couldn’t be a better team to do this. I’m very excited to be back with Kawasaki and have their support and can’t wait to make America proud.”
Erica, 27, is excited about this new adventure as well and says, “When Sara came to me about being her teammate for the rally I thought, ‘This is crazy, but what a fun experience!’ Sara and I have been friends for many years. This last year I have been involved as her spotter in her UTV racing and worked together with her on her UTV. I’m looking forward to taking our racing friendship to Morocco as Team USA, Kawasaki, IMG Motorsports.”
Erica has more than 15 years of off-road racing experience. She has raced the longest race in the U.S. and has raced in a variety of off-road vehicles – from trophy karts to class 1 cars She has the experience and navigational skills required in the most prestigious races held in Baja California, and recently took 2nd place in a UTV at the 2014 Lake Elsinore Grand Prix.
Of course, participating in an event like this does take money, so the girls have launched a fundraising campaign in their hometown that will begin with a party at Pepe’s Restaurant on January 24, from 5 to 10 p.m. (Minors are welcome until 9 p.m.)
Of the party Sara says, “There will be raffles and giveaways, and we hope to just get everyone together and let them get to know us personally and share this experience with us.”
The team can be followed on their journey, from training for the rally to daily updates in Morocco at www.facebook.com/TeryxGirls or use their official hashtag #TeryxGirls on social media sites.
Fans can make donations online at www.darkhorsepros.com/campaigns/88. For certain donation amounts, donors will receive everything from a decal, team T-shirt, beanie, hoodie or scarf from Morocco to more expensive corporate exposure at the race itself. From $5 to $10,000, the Teryx Girls will gladly accept all donations. “By contributing to this campaign you get to say you are part of the team and join us on this one-of-a-kind adventure,” they say.
There is no prize money up for grabs for the participants. The money generated helps to finance teams of doctors providing medical care for the population in the remote regions of Morocco. To learn more about the race, visit www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com.