2016 Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles - Team #180 USA

Curtis Guise

Team #180 will be competing in the 26th annual Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles this week in Morroco, Africa. I will post updates about the rallye and the progress of the teams 2014 Toyota Tacoma double cab once the event starts, as well as US team #178. Please let me know if you have any questions about the team and the truck.

More about the Rally:

This is a female only rallye that is known as a race of strategy, not a race for speed. There are no electronic devices permitted in the vehicles, no cell phones and no outside assistance. For 9 days the girls will drive over 1100 kilometers through the Sahara desert navigating the shortest distance to check point flags using 1950's black and white maps.

Nicole Pitell-Vaughan will be driving in their 2014 Toyota Tacoma double cab and Chrissie Beavis will be navigating. Nicole is the co-founder and Director of Operations at Total Chaos Fabrication Inc. and races in the MORE and Best in the Desert series. Chrissie is one of the most respected and decorated female rally racers in the US and currently navigates for #199 Travis Pastrana in the Rally America National Championship series.

Video: Team TOTAL CHAOS / CRC Train for the 2016 Gazelle Rallye

Follow the rally live at:
Erfoud: Verifications Morocco - Rallye Aïcha des gazelles

For Team #180 specific updates visit:

Vehicle Specifications:

2014 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4WD

Front Suspension:
- TOTAL CHAOS +2” Race Series Long Travel Kit
- TOTAL CHAOS 4340 Axleshafts
- TOTAL CHAOS Secondary Shock Hoops
- TOTAL CHAOS Heavy Duty Spindle Gussets
- TOTAL CHAOS Alignment Cam Tab Gussets
- King-TC LT Specific 2.5” Coilover Shocks
- King-TC LT Specific 2.5” External Bypass Shocks w/ Quick Adjust Knobs

Rear Suspension/Axle:
- DMZ Fab & Race Prep SUA Kit
- Deaver SUA Leafsprings
- King 2.5” x 14” External Bypass Shocks w/ Quick Adjust Knobs
- Custom TOTAL CHAOS Under the Bed Shock Hoops
- TOTAL CHAOS Bolt-on Rear Bumpstop Mounting Kit
- King 2.0” Hydraulic Bumpstops
- 1.50" Synergy wheel spacers

- Glassworks Unlimited Fiberglass Front Fenders
- TOTAL CHAOS Custom Fiberglass Bumper Pods
- Glassworks Unlimited Rear Bedsides
- Paint by Mike Callaway

- TRD Wheels 16”x8”
- BFGoodrich KO2 285/75R16

Other Equipment:
- TRD 4.0L Supercharger
- K&N Custom FilterCharger - Custom TOTAL CHAOS Front Bumper/Skidplate
- Warn Winch
- Baja Designs Squadron XL’s on electric actuator
- Baja Designs LED Work Lights, Dust Lights, Dome Lights
- Custom TOTAL CHAOS Rear Bumper
- Synergy Sit, Shower, Shave Kit
- Custom TOTAL CHAOS Aluminum Fresh Water Tank

See more detailed photos of the truck at TOTAL CHAOS FABRICATION

2016-team180-gazelle-rallye-total-chaos-3-20-001.jpg 2016-team180-gazelle-rallye-total-chaos-3-20-002.jpg 2016-team180-gazelle-rallye-total-chaos-3-20-003.jpg

Curtis Guise

Here is some info I just got about US team #178.

Navigator Sabrina Howells will be returning for her fourth Gazelle Rally. She is a singer/songwriter/actress/comedienne living in Los Angeles. She performs regularly with her band, Henry Henrietta and has been featured in many national and local commercials. Driver Emme Hall reviews cars and trucks with the guys on Roadshow, powered by CNET. She is the driver and trophy winner of her own off-road team, campaigning a 2-seat 1600cc air cooled VW in desert races in California, Nevada, and Mexico. 2016 marks her third Gazelle Rally. Together these two are an unforgettable and unstoppable force as they reunite for the 2016 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles.

Sponsors: Resqme, Sierra LED lights, Maxtrax, Manhattan Country Club, Ambit Pacific Recycling,

We will be filming our adventure for www.theroadshow.com. Some words and pics are already up at The Gazelle Rally is the toughest off-road race you've never heard of, and we're doing it - Roadshow

We are team 178.


Well-Known Member
I would say that Chrissie "has" navigated for TP...he is back to Christian Edstrom as of this past weekend.

John Bitting

Thanks for doing this Curtis. Do you know the story about the truck issues getting over there? Nicole had posted about it being a nightmare and finally out of lockdown. Was that standard or extra stuff they dealt with?

Curtis Guise

Thanks for doing this Curtis. Do you know the story about the truck issues getting over there? Nicole had posted about it being a nightmare and finally out of lockdown. Was that standard or extra stuff they dealt with?
I don't have full details but it had something to do with customs and the container not being delivered where it was originally supposed to go. She had to fly out early and she had a few people over there helping to track it down and make sure she could get the truck out in time. I think there were issues last year also but not as bad as this year. For some teams it all goes smooth and others it can turn into a nightmare.

Curtis Guise

Nicole and Chrissie made it to Morocco yesterday. Here's a shot of the truck she posted on Facebook.

Team American Chaos is in Erfoud, Morocco where they passed tech inspections on a stormy day. The CRC/TOTAL CHAOS Toyota Tacoma, aka the “Morocco Taco," is already getting a serious amount of attention.


Well-Known Member
nice! Just a hunch though...I'm betting the Rover has mechanical issues some where along the way!

Curtis Guise

The prologue is over and Team Amercian Chaos did great. Here is the info and a few photos.

March 23rd, 2016 (CORONA, CA) – With the Erg Chebbi dunes in the background and a sandstorm looming overhead, the 26th edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles began today with the Prologue near the gateway to the Sahara – Erfoud, Morocco.

Morocco has ideal yet challenging driving terrain

The Prologue is a short warm-up loop for teams to practice driving and navigation skills. The day did not count toward the overall score for teams in the 4×4 class, but established the start order for the first day of competition. And for Team #180 American Chaos, Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis, the Prologue meant more than just testing out the truck.

“The fact that we made it to the Prologue despite vehicle transportation hurdles said a lot about our entire team. It wasn’t easy the last few weeks, but things finally clicked. We used today to shake off the cobwebs and get a decent start draw,” stated Pitell-Vaughan.

Beavis and Pitell-Vaughan ready for the storm

Today’s Prologue was straightforward with four checkpoints (CPs) in an ideal distance of 45 km with flat, easy terrain. Pitell-Vaughan and Beavis reached every CP, and headed back to the bivouac with ease.

“The Prologue sets the stage and we nailed our checkpoints today. Despite the logistics issues with the CRC/TOTAL CHAOS Toyota Tacoma, its all behind us and now its rally time,” said Pitell-Vaughan. We had a great day! The next eight are really going to challenge us.

For many competitors including the experienced, the day represented their first time together as a team, established team dynamics, and ironed out communication. For teams who performed well, being in the better placed group on Leg 1 will have its advantages but can’t predict an outcome.

The CRC/TOTAL CHAOS Toyota Tacoma

“Until after the first day, you really can’t tell how serious the competition is,” said Beavis. “Even the Prologue doesn’t really let you know who you will be running with, and a team’s ranking in past events doesn’t mean anything a year later with different equipment.”

As three-time Gazelle competitor Beavis alluded to, anything can happen in the rally. The competition can change even on the last day of competition and reconfigure top rankings thanks in part to its unique format.

Team #180 at Checkpoint 2

Rally Format

Many rallies are based near the foot of the Merzouga and Erg Chebbi dunes, but the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles stands out in its format – teams of two drive off-road and navigate to set CPs over nine days using a compass, outdated maps, and ruler. No GPS, no cell phones, and no support crews. The goal is not speed rather the shortest distance between CPs.

As teams dig deeper into the competition the next few days, some may become more comfortable and less focused as exhaustion sets in. Scores can be set based on something as simple as how a team decides to drive around a rock or a set of trees. This year’s competition should be no exception, with even the slightest variations and last-minute decisions affecting a score.

Follow Team #180 American Chaos

Live tracking of teams will begin on the official first day of competition, March 24th, at 6 a.m. local time (11 p.m PST) on the rally website.

Desert Dog

Dakar Finisher
Curtis, you may not be getting a lot of response on this thread, but rest assured, I'm following it! Keep up the good work ladies!!!!


Well-Known Member
Nice! Any idea what tents those are? So is the scoring based on the minimum amount of distance travelled?

Curtis Guise

Here is the recap of yesterdays stage.

March 24th, 2016 (CORONA, CA) – This morning at 6 a.m.,162 international teams began their first official competition day in the 26th Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles. With low visibility from raging windstorms and blinding conditions at times, the rally showed many competitors they can plan for everything, and nothing may go according to plan.

Teams at the start line

Team #180 American Chaos was one team that sailed smoothly into the storm. Coming off a second place in yesterday’s unscored prologue, Beavis and Pitell-Vaughan’s skills lead them to a dead-on competition day where they nailed all six checkpoints. The Leg consisted of a 105 km looped leg with estimated time of 8.5 hours. A wide, flat zone greeted teams with rugged terrain later setting in. Beavis was able to keep a seemingly flawless straight heading over a long distance, demonstrating what a top finish track looks like.

Beavis and Pitell-Vaughan plotting their final checkpoint of the day

“My overall anxiety this year is pretty low compared to the first year I did the rally,” said Beavis. “Last year the limitations of our vehicle in the Crossover class was my biggest concern, so I’m much more at ease in the TC Taco.”

Known as one of the toughest all-female sporting events on the planet, physically and mentally the rally is exhausting. Beavis has taken cue from her past two rallies coming into her third.

“I know now how to just take it one flag at a time, and by breaking down your anxiety that way, it becomes very manageable,” stated Beavis. They was the first American team back to the bivouac today, and it’s anticipated they will be in the top five of their 4×4 class when the Leg’s rankings post Friday.

The “Morocco Taco”

Teams in the rally will now begin to feel the heat. Long days inside the vehicle together while the weather is playing tricks on them can be strenuous. Communication is key.

“I don’t expect any of this rally to be easy,” said Pitell-Vaughan. “We have an amazing team inside our CRC/TOTAL CHAOS Toyota Tacoma and with the USA Gazelles. Keeping a positive attitude and taking care of one another are going to be key factors in this rally.”

Change-ups can happen at any time during the competition, but starting and staying strong is important. To win, teams must not make mistakes and continue to have good days out on the Legs.

Gazelle Spirit in full affect as Team #180 assist another team

A Day in the Life

Every minute counts for the “Gazelles,” and teams need to make the most of time. Days are long with a short amount of time from bivouac arrival to unpacking the vehicle, organizing the next day, fueling, and getting into the mechanics area before a penalty can kick in. Tools, food, clothing, and gear all need to be in their designated location to avoid loosing equipment. That said, even packing can be considered a strategy as wasted minutes over something like unsecured gear can have consequences.

“4 a.m. wake-up calls are no joke, and we have a clear set of rules for for the team. Every morning will be a system of tear down by Chrissie. I run to the impound area, grab the truck and make any necessary repairs. Then we pack up, check out the staging line, park, plot, eat, and hit the ground running.”

Checkpoint time!

Coming up

The next seven days of competition will include two Marathon Legs – days where teams camp on their own and scores begin to separate as fatigue sets in. The last day of competition is March 31st, and final results will be presented on Saturday, April 2nd, at a gala held in the iconic coastal town of Essaouira, Morocco.

Friendly spectators

Follow Team #180 American Chaos

Live tracking of teams begins at 6 a.m. local time (11 p.m PST) on the rally website.


Rankings from each Leg are not official until noon local time the next day. Official rankings can be pulled from the website:


Curtis Guise

Here is today's recap.

Team American Chaos Begins Leg 2 in First Place of the 4×4 Class

March 25th, 2016 (CORONA, CA) – There are only eight American teams competing in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles this year, and three of them began today’s Leg in an impressive top ten of their 4×4 class. Leading the way in first place was Team #180 Nicole Pitell-Vaughan and Chrissie Beavis in their CRC/TOTAL CHAOS 2014 Toyota Tacoma.

The “Morocco Taco” handling the rugged terrain

Team #180, who came in second in the unscored Prologue on Wednesday, piloted their way to all their checkpoints on Leg 2. The course was 115 km with an estimated time of 9 hours. Terrain varied from rocky sections to flat plains and low walls.

Views from just about anywhere in the competition are breathtaking

A feature synonymous with the rally, a wide oued (dried out riverbed), greeted teams about halfway through the course. Competitors were cautioned during the morning briefing to take the trail option as opposed to drive straight across levels of difficulty that could pose a threat to even the most capable vehicles.

Beavis and Pitell-Vaughan handled the landscapes today in focused competition mode, fully aware that keeping their momentum up throughout the next six days is key as the rally is really won on the final few Legs.

“The top competitors will all be close at the end,” stated Pitell-Vaughan. “There are great drivers who have done this rally for several years now. Being only my second year, the terrain is still very new. I’m learning as I go. Chrissie has an advantage with navigation and reading the maps since this is her third year.”

Beavis in her element

Beavis, who as a navigator is a two-time X Games medalist, also happens to be a student pilot. Like navigators in the rally, airplane pilots must also use headings and distances and have a strong sense of mechanics to check for any issues. Her experience and skill in the sky certainly do not hurt the team.

“I actually have suspended my training while we are working on our house, but I hope to resume flying next year,” said Beavis. “I fly small planes around San Diego and have had a few chances to fly in aerobatic planes which is what I want to do eventually. There are definitely a lot of parallels with being a navigator in this rally and a pilot in the air.”

Miles of sand

Coming Up

Two words come to mind with the Marathon Legs – grueling and dunes. Teams will head off to their first Marathon Leg tomorrow and camp out under the night sky in groups together. For some, the exhaustion from the long days is counteracted by a break away from the norm of the competition.

“To me, the Marathon Legs are really what the rally is all about,” stated Pitell-Vaughan. “They definitely give you the ability to relax and connect with your time and space on the globe. Taking it all in and checking out the stars is awesome.”

Go Time

Plus, Pitell-Vaughan, an experienced driver and racer, truly enjoys time behind the wheel during the Marathon and especially the dunes. “I’m really looking forward to driving the dunes tomorrow. I actually love the entire adventure that is the Marathon Leg.”

Beavis has a new perspective heading into the dunes this year, and with Pitell-Vaughan steering the Tacoma, is looking forward to the challenge.

“Nicole is awesome in the dunes,” Beavis said. “After testing out in Glamis, I have a whole new appreciation for the sand. In past years I was downright scared of it; seriously, I’d get anxious just looking at the little dots on the map that mean ‘sand’. But now those dots mean fun.”

Watch Team #180’s performance in their first Marathon Leg together live via the link below:


starts Saturday 6 a.m. local time (11 p.m PST)

Rankings from each Leg are not official until noon local time the next day on the official rally website:

David Brumbley



All Photos: Maïenga


Well-Known Member
This most recent post says "only" 8 American teams? My impression is that 8 is quite a good showing for the # of American teams for this event...am I wrong? Has there traditionally been greater #s of American teams in this event?


The TC Facebook profile has been posting some cool updates on this

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