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Shelby Stanger | Photo: Robert Benson | February 26, 2014
Jo Hannah and Susanah Hoehn go into overdrive on the dunes of Morocco.
The irony of a pair of auto heiresses living out of their car would be rich if the duo weren’t sisters Jo Hannah and Susanah Hoehn, roughing it in their Range Rover while racing through the desert sands of Morocco. This month, the Dartmouth grads (and GMs of their family’s Hoehn Automotive) embark on the race of their lives as one of only four American teams to compete at the prestigious 24th Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, the world’s original all-female car rally, endorsed by the King of Morocco himself. For nine days they’ll navigate sky-high, shifting sand dunes. There’s no GPS, no service crews and no cellphones allowed. The ladies will camp out of their car, eat French army rations by day and navigate the old-fashioned way: with outdated maps, a compass and Breton plotters. To make it through, they’ll rely on their wits, patience, navigational skills and teamwork.
Well, on those things, and the same supercharged Range Rover Sport V8 that recently set a record racing up Pike’s Peak.
It’s good to have connections.
“We’ve named our car Sacajawea, after the Native American woman who led the Lewis and Clark expedition,” says Susanah. “Who better to name it after than a badass chick?” adds Jo Hannah, who will drive while Susanah—the younger sister by just 13 months—navigates.
After training every weekend for the past few months in the Ocotillo Wells and Imperial Sand Dunes east of S.D., the sisters can now use a MaxTrax to get up impossibly deep ravines, change tires on the fly, dig themselves out of the deepest holes and camp with (relative) ease. They’re also not afraid of being with each other nine days straight in a car. “We’re more scared by lack of sleep, or accidentally steering into Algeria,” says Jo Hannah.
Besides glory (and a shower), crossing the final finish line in the coastal town of Essaouira means just one thing to the sisters: the legendary Gazelle Gala, where they’ll wear dresses by Pucci and Stella McCartney. After all, says Jo Hannah, “What girl doesn’t want to get dressed up and go to a royal ball?”
The Hoehns’ Hots: REI coffee mugs that go the distance, comfy Prana clothing for long drives, Van De Vort in Del Mar (for everything else), freediving the Bahamas, carpooling
The Hoehns’ Nots: The 805/5 merge, surfers who care if you steal their waves, French army ration pâté, too-thin sleeping pads