Rally car co-driver wins national championship alongside Travis Pastrana

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BOISE, Idaho – Rhianon Gelsomino leads an extreme life as she rides alongside legend Travis Pastrana as they compete in the Rally Car Association.

There is one race remaining in the racing series, but this Subaru-sponsored duo have already racked up enough points to be crowned 2021 champions.

“As a girl growing up in a male dominated sport, you can only dream and think about it, and maybe one day it will happen to me,” Gelsomino said. “I could have given up on my dream and my passion, but luckily I didn’t.”

Rhianon Gelsomino grew up in Australia and came from a motorsport family who decided she should try to be a co-driver in a rally car.

“I was a physical education teacher, I was pretty happy with my life teaching high school kids, and then one day my dad and my brother decided I would make a perfect co-pilot,” Gelsomino said. “I’m little, I’m good at math and I’m competitive and all of a sudden I was thrown in the co-pilot’s seat for my brothers.”

A co-pilot has an important job to do: making pace notes, then announcing the next turn, how tight the turn is, and doing it down a crazy track that could be any number of different driving conditions. , snow in the mountains. roads or sidewalks.

“Travis’s grade system is one through six, so if I call a six it has to go all the way with no lift, if I call one we’ll do a hairpin,” said Gelsomino who did no real control over the car. “Not having control is certainly difficult, sometimes you use your foot as if it were a brake pedal.”

But if you could pick any rider with Travis Pastrana he has to be at the top of the list, Pastrana is one of the accomplished extreme sports athletes, he has been dubbed the king of motocross and this championship is number six in the rally car. Association.

“It’s fantastic to work with Travis, people say he’s crazy and all that stuff, but in all honesty he has precision in the car that he’s been great to work with,” said Gelsomino. “He’s really thinking about his notes, he’s thinking about where we’re going to put the car over a jump, a ridge or a corner.”

Gelsomino told us they had crashes but also added that everyone was doing it on these insane tracks and in the end Gelsomino won a championship trophy.

“I won my first national championship sitting alongside legend Travis Pastrana,” said Gelsomino. “It’s amazing for my family, I couldn’t see them due to COVID restrictions in Australia but I can’t wait to come back and celebrate with them because I know how proud they are of everything that I have achieved. “

Rhianon was able to celebrate her accomplishments with her husband Alex who is also a co-pilot, they married in 2013 and the following year they moved to Horseshoe Bend, Idaho.

“People ask why would you choose Idaho anywhere in the world and I say why not you,” Gelsominoo said. “I think it’s just amazing.”

The Oregon Trail Rally is the last race of the year and it kicks off this weekend on a number of different tracks north of Portland, if Alex and his driver have a good finish they have the opportunity to complete the series in second place.

I covered a story about rally car racing here in Idaho a few years ago, I jumped as a co-driver not really knowing what it would be like and I have to say this was one of the scariest experiences I have ever had.


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