by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Blind Deer Rallysport

Kate Stevens // Lake Leelanau, Michigan // #887 Open Light

In just a few short years, co-driver Kate Stevens has gone from a complete newcomer to the silly seat (and the sport) to a steadying force in the Rally America National Championship. Sitting alongside Jimmy Pelizzari in Blind Deer Rallysport’s Open Light car, she’s a week-in, week-out candidate to call her driver to a class podium, and the duo nearly took an overall podium to boot at Sno*Drift. You’ve already had a chance to hear from Jimmy; now, get to know Kate a little better:

What made you want to start rallying?

Jimmy and I had only recently met when I convinced him to sign up for LSPR, even though he was going to be out of town the week before, knowing how much he loved the sport and how hard he had been working on his car. When his co-driver for that event backed out, I said I would do it. (Of course, I was trying to impress him… I had no idea what I was getting into…) I fell in love with both rally and my Handsome Driver, despite the mild disaster that LSPR was for us that year, and have been rallying ever since.

When was your first event and how did you do?

LSPR 2015 was my first, as described above. I did terribly; I think I called all the notes for the whole first stage, the gravel pit, in about 30 seconds. After a few stages and some amazing coaching from Jimmy, I started to get the hang of it. We had an off that night, however, and the car ended up on its side. We finished the day but had to retire the car for day two due to mechanical issues. It was miserable, hard, cold, wet, and terrifying… I wouldn't have had it any other way, haha!

When was your first really memorable result—win or podium—and how did you get there?

Finishing Sno*Drift in 2016 (finally), following race after race of mechanical failure and DNFs. Then, finding out that we had podiumed in class. I was literally crying when we completed the last stage, I was so happy and relieved to have finally finished both days of a rally that I just couldn't take it. Our "intern" and great friend Ashleigh was even crying when we went up for our trophy.  

Do you prefer to work with a single driver or multiple drivers?

I love riding with Jimmy and have really only ridden with one other driver. I think I could learn a lot by hopping into other cars, but I also like being able to build and refine a system that allows us to be efficient and fast as a team. I think I'm primarily a one-car girl, but am totally open to hopping in the silly seat for other drivers as well.

What’s your favorite event on the Rally America schedule?

I LOVE LSPR.  It's long and challenging and beautiful. Sno*Drift, when there is actually snow, is another favorite, although I know many teams hate it. Both Jimmy and I grew up driving in the snow, and Bonfire Alley (or whatever it's called now) is such a fun experience, both for spectators and racers.  

Do you have any pre-event routines?

Nothing in particular. I organize our gear, go through my notes, try to relax. I think it's pretty standard. 

Which other drivers in your class do you respect the most?

I think that Marianna Langosch is amazing. She's knowledgable, calm, committed, helpful, honest, and FAST. I love that she is branching out into driving as well, as it will only improve her already stellar skills.  I also found a wonderful mentor in Terry Hanson, who really, with very little but very solid advice, helped me advance tremendously in the sport.