2023 Rivian R1T Takes First Place at the 2023 Rebelle Rally

The 2023 Rivian R1T team called Limestone Legends had a big goal: To podium at the 2023 Rebelle Rally. They didn't plan on taking first place.

Limestone Legends About To Collect A Checkpoint. Photo: Sara Lacey
Limestone Legends about to collect a checkpoint. Photo: Sara Lacey

Rivian also Won 11th, 20th, and 30th Places with their R1t Trucks.

The goal of the Limestone Legends wasn’t to win the whole Rebelle Rally. They had aimed to take a podium spot. But in their second year of competition, Alex Anderson and Lilly Macaruso meant business. And not just because they work for Rivian and had a very direct relationship with their competition vehicle, the Rivian R1T, but also because they practically declared it on their Rebelle Rally team profile. “we…pulled together through our mutuality of intensity for competition.” And at the end of the 2022 Rebelle Rally they proved it by earning the Rookie of the Year award.

Related: What’s it Like to Drive the Rivian R1S?

Headings United At A Checkpoint. Photo: Sara Lacey

Headings United at a checkpoint. Photo: Sara Lacey

How did Rivian get Here?

The lead-up to this victory is remarkable. In 2020, Rivan’s cars hadn’t come out yet, but Rebecca Donaghe and Emme Hall competed in a pre-production R1T truck (which happened to be the only EV that competed that year) to show what it was capable of. There was a lot to consider at that time, establishing a charging infrastructure, equity in fueling, having support staff to service the vehicles. It’s important to note here that at Rebelle, a manufacturer can provide a mechanic, but that mechanic has to work on all the cars in the rally. The following year Rebecca and Emme rallied in an R1T again and placed 4th. Then in 2022 Lilly and Alex competed and took 4th.

So when they showed up in 2023 having a better understanding of the Rally, navigator Alex (senior mechanical engineer at Rivian) and driver Lilly (special projects engineer at Rivian) were ready. After 2022 Alex even went back to work and designed and 3D printed some modifications for the interior of their R1T. These included cupholder inserts and a giant Yeti water bottle holder, and removing the backseats so they could carry their gear more efficiently. And guess what? Other than these interior pieces, the entire truck was driven exactly how you can buy it from Rivian. It actually received the Bone Stock designation at the Rebelle Rally.

Related: Why so Many People are Happily on the Waitlist for the Rivian R1T 

The Backseat Of The Rivian Without Back Seats. Photo: Sara Lacey

The backseat of the Limestone Legends’ Rivian R1T without back seats. Photo: Sara Lacey

Would it be enough to get their Rivian R1T over the Line?

And still, they didn’t think there was an opportunity to take first place. Alex says, “There was no reasonable expectation that we were going to win because the… competition was fierce. There were six or seven highly competitive teams, and so it was not an expectation that we were going to win. Our strategy was to stay consistent early on and get as many points as we could because Glamis [the day in the dunes] was not the day that we expected to win it. We just wanted to not get stuck.” Alex continued, “[Glamis] is the easiest day to make it or break it, and most people tend to break it. The navigation is hard, the driving is harder, and the team dynamic is pushed… we have to work together because Lily can’t drive straight. It’s just not possible [in the sand], even though that’s what the navigator wants. Also, it’s the last day, so your patience is gone, your energy is gone, and this was by far a harder rally than last year.”

And the training was a serious component for all the teams. Limestone Legends were rookies in 2022. This year’s potential competitors were training for several months, and Alex and Lilly were actually called in at the last minute and only had two months to prepare.

Related: You Can Do Hard Things at the Rebelle Rally in a Kia Telluride 

Limestone Legends Alex Anderson And Lilly Macaruso And Their Hardware. Photo: Rebelle Rally

Limestone Legends Alex Anderson and Lilly Macaruso and their hardware. Photo: Rebelle Rally

Lilly was ready for the mental component of the Rebelle Rally that often takes competitors by surprise. In her bio, she says, “The Rebelle holds a mirror up to anyone who competes — sometimes you like what you see and some pieces you don’t. Either way, those pieces are yours. As a person who actively seeks continuous improvement, it is a place to channel my competitive nature and continue to improve with an amazing teammate.” What a remarkable person to be in the trenches of the Rebelle with! 

Renewable Innovations Creating Electricity From Hydrogen. Photo: Sara Lacey

Renewable Innovations creating electricity from hydrogen. Photo: Sara Lacey

Charging Must be Reliable and Efficient for all EV Competitors, not just the Rivian R1T

But there is another component to Rivian’s success at the Rebelle, and it’s not their competitors. It’s the team at Renewable Innovations. Renewable Innovations is the company that brought electricity to the rally. The entire base camp was powered by solar, provided by Renewable Innovations, and the electric vehicles were all powered by green hydrogen, also provided by Renewable Innovations. Let me explain.

Renewable Innovations had a trailer full of green hydrogen, and they had a sister trailer that converted the hydrogen into electricity and stored it in batteries. Then they had chargers connected to those batteries and plugged into the EVs at the Rebelle. It sounds so simple and yet was totally fascinating and cool. Renewable Innovations is hoping to establish hydrogen as a fuel source nationwide, and using the Rebelle as a proving ground certainly sent a powerful message to me, as I’d never seen hydrogen power in action before.

Headings United Charging Up. Photo: Sara Lacey

Headings United charging up. Photo: Sara Lacey

All Teams Benefit from Renewable Innovations

Renewable Innovations powered the other EVs in the race, including the three other Rivian teams, one of which was another company racer, and the other which was the first privately owned Rivian to compete. That private team was Team 139 Headings United. Mandy Brezina and Alex Gilman switched tasks, they both drove and navigated. These women competed the previous year, but this was the first time in Mandy’s 2022 Rivian named Orion. It was cool to catch up with them and learn that they felt supported in the Rebelle Rally by the charging and by having Rivian mechanics on hand to help with anything they needed. Headings United finished in 11th place. 

Evergreen Edge At The Finish Line. Photo: Sara Lacey

Evergreen Edge Rivian R1T at the finish line. Photo: Sara Lacey

Multiple Victories for the Rivian R1T are Significant

Team 196 Evergreen Edge is comprised of teammates Kelly Kennedy and Rachel Zech. They are Rivian employees and Rebelle rookies. They have bonded over the Rebelle Rally and work in different areas of the company. Kelly is an employee communications manager, and Rachel is a regional vehicle operations manager. They are both adventurous and proved their mettle with their 20th-place finish in their R1T.

Team 186 are the Red Canyon Risers, with Elle Navarro and Emily Brady competing in their red Rivian R1T. Elle leads facilities operations, security, and workplace development, and Emily is a senior manager for facilities and charging deployment at Rivian. Emily and Elle rounded out Rivian’s corporate teams and are rookies too. Red Canyon Risers finished in 30th.

I’m excited to see if any of this year’s accomplished competitors return in 2024 to defend their title or improve their standings.

Mandy Brezina And Alex Gilman From Headings United. Photo: Sara Lacey

Mandy Brezina and Alex Gilman from Headings United. Photo: Sara Lacey

Rivian had a lot Going On at Rebelle this Year

To recap, Rivian had four teams finish in the top 30 out of 54 teams in their class. Two teams of which were rookies, one of which was non-corporate. That’s incredibly impressive. And they all did it on electric power by way of hydrogen. It’s safe to say that the camaraderie Rivian inspires is a component of the team’s success and that the other is that their trucks are competing at a high level. It’s fascinating to see both company-sponsored teams and the private team doing so well. All teams raced with the R1T, Rivian’s pickup truck. And as for the R1S SUV, it competed in 2022, and I’m hoping to see it in next year’s race.

Limestone Legends Making It In The Dunes. Photo: Sara Lacey

Limestone Legends making it in the dunes. Photo: Sara Lacey

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Sara has written about cars since 2005. She used to beat them up with her kids and write about... More about Sara Lacey