The DirtFish instructors taking their rallying to another level

Eric Schofhauser and Kendra Miller have weekend plans that are different from the norm


How often do you hang out with a colleague from work? What do you get up to? Catch a movie perhaps? Maybe you go for a drink, or take part in an activity together?

When you’re an employee of DirtFish, you’re rally mad. So a weekend in each other’s company for program instructors Eric Schofhauser and Kendra Miller was only ever going to involve one thing… rally.

The rally in question is the Oregon Trail Rally, round four of the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National championship – and it represents a real step into the unknown for both.

“This is my first event where I’m a driver,” said Schofhauser.

“I’m more experienced as a co-driver, obviously I have a little bit of background driving at DirtFish as an instructor all the time but stage rally as a driver is definitely a different perspective to being in the co-drivers’ seat.”

As for Miller, although she’s done the female navigational Rebelle Rally in California for the last few years, this will be her first stage rally in either of the seats.

“I have wanted to get into co-driving for quite a long time but didn’t feel like there was a really safe way to do it and I guess I’m not fully crazy enough to just full on jump in a car and be like ‘I’ll learn on the fly,'” she said.

“So I took one of Rhianon and Alex [Gelsomino]’s Oz Rally Pro classes and kind of went from there and was like ‘this is awesome, I have to do it’. So when Eric was like ‘I need a co-driver’ I was like ‘yeah, I think he can drive alright, so let’s do this’ – my major qualifications being I don’t get car sick and I can read maps while I drive!


“You just kind of hope that you’ve picked up enough and practised enough that you’re not a total liability in the car!” added Miller on what she’s already learned from the likes of the Oz Rally Pro training program at DirtFish.

“I think the thing about taking that Oz Rally Pro class was just you got to see what your job actually was as the co-driver, that the pacenotes for example are not yours.

“However the shorthand is what you create so that you can read it and that you can understand it and you can call it back very quickly – how corners might be grouped together, how fast you might need to read things when you’re out on stage, how to prepare yourself and how to really be a professional in the car, even if you’re just a novice.”

But why this rally, and why now?

“I think the stars just aligned,” said Miller. “An opportunity came up with the car and Eric was getting to drive, I happened to be starting to co-drive and was obviously kind of wanting to drive a slow car fast to begin with! Yeah, it literally was here’s the opportunity and it was like ‘I’m not doing anything, let’s go.'”

That opportunity was thanks to Kris Saada who wasn’t able to compete this weekend so instead offered her Subaru BRZ to her co-driver, Schofhauser.

“She very graciously offered me the opportunity to use it for an event as I haven’t driven yet,” Schofhauser explained, “as for her it’s extra training for me as if I know how to drive on a stage rally plus co-drive then I can co-drive for her better.

“It was very much just fate that she wouldn’t be here herself that allowed me the opportunity to use it for this event.”

Speaking before Friday evening’s two superspecial stages at Portland International Raceway, the pair’s goals were simple. To borrow Miller’s phrasing: “Drive all three days, drive every stage and have fun.”

Schofhauser is similarly reserved in his expectations: “Even though I have experience from DirtFish my goal honestly is just to finish,” he said.

“I have no preconceptions about how fast or slow I’m going to be, I just want to have some experience and drive some fun stages, have some fun and hopefully finish the rally.”

Oregon though is one of the toughest rallies on the American calendar – not just because of its length with three days of action but also because it features some significant Tarmac mileage.


“Do you want the PC answer?” quipped Schofhauser when asked by DirtFish for his thoughts on that.

“Give him both then I think it’s solid!” responded Miller.

“It’ll be an added challenge,” Schofhauser mused. “If I had a perfect world I would’ve prefered all-dirt, but Tarmac is going to add variety to it, it’s going to add that extra bit of challenge, it’s going to make me a better driver as I’ll have to adapt between two different driving styles very quickly.

“I had some background in autocross so I’ll have to revert back to that, but most of my training in driving has been on very loose surface stuff, so it’ll be interesting to see if I can adapt back to Tarmac.”

The one thing neither Schofhauser and Miller are lacking though is support. Both have been buoyed by the well wishes from their colleagues and the wider rally community – Schofhauser remarking that “it’s not lost on me” the opportunity that he has in front of him.

“All the support we’ve gotten has been incredible from DirtFish, from Kris, from the crew, from the community at large – the number of people I have talked to just randomly online or whatever, bumped in passing and the amount of support they’ve given along the way is awesome,” Miller added.

“It makes you feel really excited and proud to just get out on stage and be a part of it.”