Behind the Brand - Toyota

July 11th, 2023

With Toyota recently announced as a Silver Sponsor of the Rebelle Rally and continuing as the official Presenting Sponsor of the Live Webcast, we thought it was the perfect time to get to know the people behind the brand. So we sat down with Toyota representatives including 2x Rebelle team Samantha Barber and Becky Brophy to dive a little deeper into why the company chose the Rebelle – and what makes the rally the ultimate proving ground for their vehicles.

Find out more about the company, including their commitment to their employees, now:

First of all, we love that Toyota sent six employees to compete in Toyotas last year! Why choose employees for behind the wheel?

Toyota is full of such amazing people – their day jobs may be in finance or product planning, but on the weekend, you’ll find them pushing the limits of their Tacoma while off-roading or embarking on camping adventures in their 4Runners. These are the people who live the spirit of our vehicles and what better way to celebrate their spirit than by offering them a chance to compete in a legendary event such as Rebelle Rally?

Toyota was the presenting partner of the Rebelle Rally Live Show in 2022 year and back again this year. Can you tell us a little bit behind your decision to support the rally as a partner?

As a presenting partner, it was a no-brainer for Toyota to take part in this incredible event again. We were inspired by the fantastic testimonials and Becky and Sam’s personal experience, which motivated us to return and show our support. Participating in Rebelle Rally not only allows us to put our vehicles to the test, but it also gives us a chance to support the amazing women who compete each year.

The Tundra was completely redesigned and the new Sequoia went on sale last October – both entered in last year’s competition. Why were these two vehicles chosen to compete, and are there any new features we might be interested in learning about?

It has been an exciting few years for Toyota Trucks —The Tundra launch was just a precursor to what’s to come, and with Sequoia out, we thought what better opportunity to put these two vehicles to the test!

Rebelle Rally breaks down off-roading to its most simplistic level – bare grit and precision. Even with their most advanced features stripped down, the Tundra and Sequoia both embody the required capability and durability needed to navigate the challenging and ever-changing terrains ahead. These vehicles are a testament to Toyota’s commitment to producing reliable and high-performing vehicles that can handle even the toughest driving conditions.

Congrats on Team #152’s podium finish! Samantha and Becky were the 2021 4×4 Rookies of the Year, and placed third in the 2022 4×4 class. Are there any particular experiences they’ve filled you in on that standout during these two years? (fun or transformative – or both!)

Becky Brophy: There are so many moments that I can vividly recall… One of the overarching feelings for me is teamwork. Sam and I depended on each other tremendously throughout the competitions.

First and foremost, she depends on me to be a safe driver. It’s my responsibility to be vigilant and anticipate hazards, ensuring that we take the safest path to our destination… For our sake, as well as our 3rd teammate, the vehicle. Additionally, I need to navigate the terrain efficiently while keeping a close eye landscape as we progress.

Sam’s job is to constantly monitor our location on the map, devise strategies on which checkpoints to go after and how to reach them, ensure that I am following the route she planned, check that our odometer is correctly calibrated, and ensure that we are on schedule. One of the most memorable scenarios is from the first day of our first rally. It was toward the end of the day, and we were in high spirits, feeling confident in our progress but mindful of the time remaining. While driving through a wash in search of an exit, I pushed past a bush and collided with large rock hidden behind it, causing the truck to lift off of the ground by the running boards and come to an abrupt stop. It was at this moment that our teamwork became crucial.

We were going through “tools” in our “toolbox” (4WD, 4LO, diff lock, traction boards, forward, reverse) and it seemed like nothing was going to get us out. We were brainstorming other ideas and finally used a rock to get more traction and lift the vehicle up enough to get us out. That stressful 15 minutes felt like 2 hours, but we ended up making the rest of our checkpoints for the day and returned back to base camp in one piece. I’m still proud of how we handled that challenge together and without allowing the tension between us to compound the problem.

Samantha Barber: Becky covered the teamwork portion of the Rally perfectly.

I love when Becky and I find black checkpoints. Each one is validation that we do know how to navigate and drive – and play the game.

One thing about Rebelle that is super special to me is each night when we return to basecamp. When we cross under the arch and the tension of the day gets to flood way. What’s done is done and there is a tent FULL of amazing people to be surrounded by with no distractions. The staff and other competitors welcome you with open arms and share with you the joys and tears of the day.

The Rebelle Rally is known as a proving ground for vehicles. Why do you believe that is?

The Rebelle Rally is an endurance test. When you’re navigating through treacherous sand dunes and rugged terrain, you need a vehicle that can handle the grit and grind. You need a vehicle that not only possesses remarkable capability but also the unwavering durability to conquer every obstacle that comes your way.

The rally puts our vehicles to the ultimate test in some of the most challenging and unforgiving terrain imaginable. The combination of intense off-road conditions, exacting navigation, and the length of the race requires a vehicle that is not only capable but also reliable and durable enough to withstand the grueling conditions. Completing the rally successfully is a testament to a vehicle’s worth and its ability to handle extreme challenges.

You’ve mentioned there’s a real connection between women and their Toyota trucks. (We know there is because we drive them and have that connection!) Can you expand on this?

Becky Brophy: The vehicle is so important because it is our 3rd teammate. We wouldn’t make it across the finish line without it. We are essentially living in these vehicles for 8 days and we get to know the ins and outs very well. I get very attuned to its performance and capability, and can personally vouch for how much a stock Toyota truck can do. It makes it that much more special to work for Toyota when I reflect on how our customers can use our vehicles and all of the amazing things they have done and places they have gone. It’s rewarding to be a part of something that empowers people to embark on awe-inspiring adventures and accomplish amazing feats.

Samantha Barber: In addition to Becky’s, these trucks are the key to unlocking our own potential as off-road enthusiasts. They let us explore the world as well as explore ourselves and our own capabilities.

We have been honored to be a part of some Women In Toyota virtual events. And we have been impressed at leadership showing up to support the Toyota – Rebelle competitors. Tell us more about how Toyota supports women within the company.

Part of what makes Toyota’s culture so great is our commitment to our people. We have many talented women working on the engineering, planning, and marketing of the very products they love to drive.

For over ten years, Toyota has hosted the North American Women’s Conference which celebrates the amazing feats of women at our company and has expanded phenomenally throughout. In addition, Toyota has a series of internal Business Partnering Groups that help our team members find community and opportunity amongst their peers across all levels of the organization.

Favorite road trip?

Samantha Barber: I am not sure that I have a favorite road trip. Any road trip with good views, music, and snacks is a favorite of mine. I will say, I am ok to never drive from CA to KY in 31 hours again… and I am sure Becky would agree 😃

Lastly, any words of wisdom for future Rebelles?:

Becky Brophy: My words of wisdom for future Rebelles would be to enjoy the journey and give yourself grace. It’s such an incredible experience for personal growth, adventure, meeting new people, finding new passions, and seeing the world in ways you’ve never seen it before.

It is hard work, it is grueling, it is uncomfortable at times, and it is SO worth it.

It’s amazing the things you can achieve when you work hard but realize that everyone makes mistakes… So, give yourself grace, learn from these mistakes, and then move on and make yourself better.

Samantha Barber: To Future Rebelles: Before you start, think about what you want to get out of the experience. In what ways are you wanting to learn and grow? Communicate with your partner and find your shared goals and expectations. Be ready to get real with yourself – you cannot hide from who you are in a long and intense competition like this.

From the words of Emily Miller- “You cannot expect to be good at something you have never done before.”