Picking Race Partners & Building High-Performance Teams, All in the Same.

Picking a race partner is not for the faint of heart. It’s like choosing your life-partner, only for a shorter duration. Or is it? In this post, I will detail a few tricks I’ve learned over the years in putting together great teams. All apply well to picking your next partner for the Rebelle Rally or any off-road event.

Charlene O'Day, my rally navigator and co-founder of Fast 'n Curious Off-Road. Photo by Thuy Davis - Dandelion Adventures

Charlene O'Day, my rally navigator and co-founder of Fast 'n Curious Off-Road. Photo by Thuy Davis - Dandelion Adventures

So, why would it matter to pick well? Can you go out and grab a warm body, add some training, then do this thing? Of course, you can and it might work well. Spending some time picking the right person will produce significant benefits.

In this year’s Rebelle Rally I was fortunate to have a family member and trusted friend by my side. Many petitioned to be my navigator and even a few I sought out because I felt they had skills I lacked. My greatest hope was Char O’Day would say yes and join me. I had a desire to spend more time with her and grow our relationship. We had already established a fun off-road relationship due to many adventures in the dirt. And of course, she’s known me since birth.

The rally may not have gone so well, had I not picked as well as I did. Some teams dropped from the race early. A difference of opinion and not meshing well happens all the time.

So, what is the key to picking a great teammate?

  • Vetting out each other is vital; where do skills lay and who knows how to navigate and drive? Those are simple; you go find out. The more difficult aspect is, how willing is this person to learn? How willing are you to learn? If you think you know it all, or your potential partner does, that should be a red flag.

  • Do you fit well together? Spend some time together, get outside and wheel for a weekend. See what it’s like to camp together, ride along, and see how each other handles stress. If you are a gregarious and funny person, do you want a wallflower sitting next to you? Maybe you do, but the key is, does this combination fit?

  • Can you grow together? Close to how willing you are to learning but more than that. Are your goals aligned? Like any great relationship, can you see both of you embracing the ups and downs of racing?

  • Are you picking someone who could fill in where you are weak? It’s the #1 advice given to entrepreneurs, surround yourself with people better than you. This may take some getting used to, especially for entrepreneurs and rally drivers. If you don’t know where you are weak, you better find out quick.

These points are simple and may sound obvious. Think with caution about picking a partner who lives across the country. Will both of you have time and resources to be together as much as possible?

Skills are acquired, and experience found. Being able to hold respect and compassion for your race partner in the face of stress takes practice.