Rachel Larratt, also known as Chica Loca, takes a hair-pin turn at 129 miles per hour in her 2006 Lotus Elise and finds that the preceding evening’s rain has washed away a large chunk of the stretch of Mexican roadway where she’s been racing. She pilots around it and continues on, just a streak of gunmetal in Mexico’s most perilous road race, La Carrera Panamericana. In the end, Chica Loca comes in first in class, first in exhibition, and tenth overall out of 103 entered in 2006. Not bad for a girl.
In fact, this “girl” has had podium finishes in every rally series she’s entered, including the Chihuahua Express; she even drove in the super-exclusive Player’s Run, making record time in 2006 driving a Porsche 996 Turbo as fast as 186 miles per hour. Being a woman in the male-dominated field of racing does have its advantages. Larratt says, “It’s a double-edged sword. I get to enjoy the benefits of being able to get sponsorships or opportunities that may not be given to a male driver of a similar skill level, but, because of this, there is always a microscope over me.”
It’s no surprise that a hot tattooed woman in a hot car attracts attention. Her sleeves, tattooed by Jason Leisge and Shane Faulkner, and her leg work, by Patrick Cornolo, are particularly eye-catching, but it’s Jim Miner’s brilliant blue flowers on the sides of Larratt’s neck that stop people in their tracks. What is surprising is how the 27-year-old Chicago native came to the racing circuit. Larratt started out as a tomboy and geek, taking auto shop instead of sewing, computers over cooking. “Racing came as a fluke when I went to a track day with a couple of friends,” Larratt explains. “I had no idea how accessible car racing was.”
It was her geekiness that eventually led her to the funds necessary to race performance cars (a Lotus and Porsche don’t come cheap). Larratt comes from a competitive family—her mother is a racehorse trainer and both of her brothers are jockeys. So, she took that genetic drive and parlayed her computer savvy into tech businesses. In her early twenties, she worked on the team that designed the on-demand video system used by many hotels.
Larratt is also known for her work on BMEzine.com. BME began as a space for people to share their experiences with body modification, from tattoos and piercings to the extremes of amputation and genital modification. Today, it’s the largest body modification site and one of the web’s most popular e-zines. Although the site and her 5-year-old daughter are her main priorities, Larratt is also focused on her return to racing. In 2007, she wasn’t racing after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but now, with her illness in check, she feels she can get back behind the wheel. She’s hoping to do the Dakar off-road race and dreams of the World Rally Championship. “My entire team is just out to have fun,” says Larratt. “We’re not doing it for a living, we’re just interested in seeing what we can do as a private team.” She’s tough, but behind the Armor All is a soft-spoken and sagacious woman. Strong and calm—anything but loca.