Local women head to Moroccan off-road race

Wendy Fisher navigates, Emily Miller drives

Former Crested Butte resident Emily Miller is no stranger to the world of off road racing. She started her career three years ago racing with legendary off-road racer Rod Hall as part of Rod Hall Racing team.
Now, Miller is headed overseas to race and is bringing Mt. Crested Butte resident and friend Wendy Fisher as navigator to compete in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles March 14-19.
“It’s a pretty brutal rally but I knew she’d be the perfect partner to go,” says Miller.
“I thought I can’t do it, I have a three year old and a 17 month old,” says Fisher. “But I got to do it. I love different things. I never thought this would happen in my life.”
Set in the Moroccan Sahara, the off-road race is an eight-day orienteering competition open to women only. Armed with just a map, compass and their vehicle – anything from a motorbike to a 4×4 SUV to a prototype – competitors must find checkpoints along the marked-out, 2,500-km route.
Miller and Fisher will be the only team from the U.S. this year competing and the second U.S. team ever in the race’s 19-year history.
They will be driving an Isuzu turbo diesel DMAX in the rally gaining a mileage advantage without losing power all in an effort to reduce emissions without compromising performance.
While the race is a competition, it provides numerous humanitarian programs including providing medical care to over 5,000 villagers along the course.
The project provides bicycles for children for use to and from school.
In addition to racing, Miller and Fisher will be raising money for the Picala Project.
“A bicycle is the number one thing that helps children succeed,” says Miller. “We’re raising funds to give away bicycles.”
To prepare for the race, Fisher is undergoing intensive orienteering training with a navigation instructor from the Coast Guard as well as numerous locals with compass experience and a woman in Denver who has done the race before.
“The navigation training is overwhelming,” says Fisher. “I’m still learning.”
In addition, Fisher got a crash course in roadside repairs and got some time riding shotgun with Miller at the wheel.
“I held on to the ‘Oh sh** bar’ and tried to brake on an imaginary brake pedal,” says Fisher. “Once I came to the realization that she really is a race car driver I got into it and I love it.”
Miller and Fisher have lined up sponsors Michelin, Salomon, Nite Rider, Rod Hall Racing, Clif Bar and Smith to cover costs and equipment for the race and provide prizes for their upcoming local fundraiser at the Lobar on Thursday, February 19 at 9 p.m.
To find out more check out their website at www.teammillerfisher.com or come by the Lobar on Thursday, donations at the door will go toward the Picala Project and there will be plenty of prizes to give away.


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