Where do we even start when trying to explain who Michelle is and everything she does? Many of you already know her, but for those who don’t, she’s a Washington Native from the small town of Mossyrock, WA. She is DirtFish’s only female instructor, and is one of the ‘favorites’, as reported by our students! You may also know her as one of the most competitive co-drivers in North America, sitting alongside multiple top drivers in the American Rally Association and Canadian Rally Championships. Find out all about her below:
Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I grew up in Mossyrock, a small town in Southwest Washington State.
How did you get involved in the sport of rally?
I started watching stage rally on Speed Channel when I was in college and couldn’t sleep at night. I found it utterly captivating! At that time I loved cars but wasn’t really doing much with them. Having no idea how to get involved or that I even could, my participation in autocross eventually led me to rally and to DirtFish.
What made you want to work for DirtFish?
I volunteered as an instructor with multiple car clubs in Washington; SCCA, the BMW Club, Porsche Club and Bremerton Sports car club. I loved teaching people to have fun with their cars to develop skills that not only made them fierce competitors but also better drivers. When the opportunity came up to interview at DirtFish in 2013, I couldn’t turn it down. To have my passion and hobby become my career is something most can only dream of!
What made you choose DirtFish over any other Company? And, why rally over other motorsports?
Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest and loving it here, I’m super fortunate that DirtFish was in my backyard. I knew a couple of the instructors at DirtFish and their enthusiasm for what they taught every day was infectious. I wanted to be a part of that culture and to share my passion and love for motorsports with as many drivers as possible.
Rally itself is pretty unique and maybe I’m biased, but rally drivers are the best in the world. To be able to drive in any and every condition and having the ability to manage and adapt to the vehicle, the road conditions and most importantly yourself is challenging and empowering. The fact that we can enable each student and give them new-found confidence and skills while making them smile from ear-to-ear by the end of the day makes the work we do incredibly rewarding.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I do a lot of racing and fixing cars in my free time, but when I need a break from that, I love to cook, garden, work on the house and explore the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley with my husband, Chris, and my Irish Setter, Red. We love to go hiking, running, find new roads to drive on and of course stock up on spares at the junkyard.
Do you compete in any type of racing? If so, what series do you compete in? What kind of car do you race?
Yes, I love racing, and it fuels my passion for teaching! In 2018, I co-drove with fellow instructor Sam Albert in the DirtFish Subaru WRX STI Rally Car, taking 3rd overall in the American Rally Association Championship. This upcoming season, I will be co-driving for my husband in our Ford Focus rally car for the ARA championship, and I may even drive a few select events.
What is your racing history and background? How long have you been racing?
I started racing autocross in 2007. It’s a great entry level motorsport with low entry fees and low consequences, but high levels of competition, especially as you progress to the national level. I have won three SCCA Solo National Championships- once in a Mitsubishi Evo 9, and two other times in a MINI Cooper. Autocross was an excellent entry for me into motorsports, which led me to work more in-depth with local clubs, working on my craft as an instructor and novice program coordinator. That led me to track days and then eventually to Rally! In 2015, I started co-driving and found that I really enjoyed it and I was pretty good at it, and have been doing it ever since.
What kind of car do you drive daily?
It depends on the day, but my latest ride is a 2010 Porsche Cayenne Transsyberia. You may also see me in a 1989 Turbo Mirage or a Ram 2500.
What kind of jams do you listen to while cruising to work in the morning?
It depends on the mood, as I like just about everything. If I had to pick one thing though, you’d find me listening to New Wave – I love the 80s. My favorite song is “Jesus Take the Wheel”.
What else should the DirtFish fans know about you?
In addition to instructing, the last three years I have been incredibly fortunate to manage the DirtFish Motorsports team. I acquired so much knowledge and was able to help develop young drivers and help an amazing team become serious competitors in Americas Rallycross. I’m looking forward to the future of rally and motorsport in North America!