Every Car Has A Story

‘A Different Kind of Horsepower’

Josie Rimmer grew up loving horses and became a world-champion equestrian. She now races cars

By Blake Siebe March 21, 2023

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This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of Seattle Magazine.

“I was an equestrian my whole life, but when my horse passed away and Covid hit, I found myself switching to a different kind of horsepower.” — JOSIE RIMMER

Growing up in a very car-centric family, Josie Rimmer took a different path and devoted most of her life to riding horses — until recently.

During Covid, Rimmer, a 13-time world champion title equestrian, lost her beloved horse and found a new interest in rally racing. When trying to find articles on women drivers, technicians or crews, she was surprised at the lack of representation of women in motor sports. Her determination sparked a desire to bring light to the sport’s unsung heroes and to break down barriers to get more women involved.

Rimmer, the head of strategy & women and motor sport coordinator at DirtFish Rally School in Snoqualmie, has been rallycross racing since 2020. She competed in her first stage rally last year. This year, she plans to compete in the Olympus and Tour de Forest rallies.

Rimmer organized the second annual Women in Motorsport Summit March 11 at DirtFish in honor of National Women’s History Month. The impressive list of women panelists includes Michele Mouton, one of my all-time favorite drivers. Mouton in 1985 took the Audi Sport Quattro (Group B) to victory at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and bested the previous record by around 13 seconds.

Panelists at the Summit will be joined by women-owned businesses, food trucks, a woman-fronted band, and thrill rides in real rally cars, with proceeds benefiting the Jessi Combs Foundation.

For those unfamiliar, DirtFish Rally School is more than just a driving advancement course or a prerequisite for rally-style driving. Regardless of skill level, you will leave feeling empowered, with newfound confidence in yourself and behind the wheel. Sliding a car sideways through the dirt is quite an impressive personal feat that you won’t easily forget. It’s definitely something I recommend for anyone who drives a vehicle, as it is some of the most fun you will ever have behind the wheel. The knowledge and skills gained are priceless.

Nelly, a 1976 green F-150

1976 green F-150

Photography gy Grant Hindsley

What inspired your interest in cars? I grew up in a family that loved cars, so I loved them, too. But being an equestrian for 12 years, I really loved the trucks.

What’s the story behind your first car? I drove the same route to the barn from the age of 8 until the age of 20. And for each of these years, we drove by this house with a gorgeous 1970s-something blue F-250. And every single day, I’d say to my dad or think, “I wonder if he’d sell it to me.” When I was 18, I found a 1976 green F-150 on eBay. She was everything I’d wanted in a truck, and ended up being my first one. I drive it all summer, every summer, and always notice how much happier I am in the no A/C, leaning left, skinny steering-wheel Nelly.

What’s your favorite car to drive and why? As you can tell, I’m quite loyal to Nelly and the way she (quite literally) forces you to slow down. It’s like when you take the ferry — the ticket line, parking line, then the ride itself. You’re forced to ease up, relax, and take in the view. I haven’t seen a single person drive that truck without a giant smile on their face. Next to Nelly, my biggest rush has come from driving the 1978 Mk2 Ford Escort. This is the one I’ve been able to slide around the Dirt-Fish property — sideways, fast, loud, and when it slings gravel, it slings it far. Once, I was driving it at DirtFish for a video shoot. I was intentionally keeping it clean (because who wants their mistakes caught on camera?) and I got the radio call to “get it sideways.” That, I think, is the best call you can get. Sideways it is!

What’s a feature from old cars that you wish modern cars had? Pop-up headlights!

If you could have any car throughout history, what would it be? An Alfa Romeo GTV, around 1967. Or a classic Vespa.

If you’re brand loyal, which do you prefer and why? I’m a Ford lover. I just think their cars have the most heart. Whether it’s my truck, the Escort, a Cosworth, or the 1973 RS2000, they all hold a different spirit.

Nelly, a 1976 F-150 that Rimmer found on eBay.

Nelly, a 1976 F-150 that Rimmer found on eBay.

Photography by Grant Hinsley

When you’re looking to buy a car, what are the most important features to you? It needs to be able to tow a horse trailer, or be steady while being fun. My daily driver now is a Focus RS, and it does exactly that.

Is there a classic car from a movie you wish you could drive? Perhaps the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger.

If you could introduce any feature to a car you own, what would it be? I only wish Nelly had a manual transmission.

What would be your dream route to drive and why? I’d like to drive the Ring Road around Iceland or anywhere in the Swiss Alps. There are few things better than being able to pause your road trip to step onto a black sand beach or look up at a massive snow-capped mountain. It’s a feeling I want more of.

For more about DirtFish Rally School, its Women in Motorsport Summit, or women’s only single, multiday rally training, visit drive.dirtfish.com

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