My name is Tara Reitz and I was born and raised in Palmyra, Pennsylvania! I am the mother of four teenagers ranging from 13-18 years old. I have been married for 15 years to my best friend who is also my spotter when we go off roading. I am an Army veteran and my hobbies include backpacking, bouldering, and weightlifting.
I never imagined I would be a female off-roader, especially at the age of 37! I drive on a different kind of track I never knew existed in motor sports. I compete against a competitor I never competed against, and it’s not against man or woman, but the terrain. See going fast and racing is in my blood. It’s part of my family’s heritage, the Slade’s. My uncle Ron is currently featured in a racing museum in Delaware, which is very cool, and we have always been proud of our heritage. I literally grew up on the track with my dad, uncles, and cousins on dirt bikes, quads, mini sprints, and stock cars. Some of the best years of my life were with my dad serving on his pit crew, riding, and countless hours in the garage. I love the adrenaline rush you get with speed and I never imagined I could get that same feeling off-roading in a stock Jeep! I was very much mistaken and underestimated the off-roading life and the skills needed to cross the different terrains.
Let me tell you about the moment I fell in love with this Motorsport. My first time out was May 23rd, 2020 and I quickly seen that there’s a lot of skill in this sport. Mechanics, tire placement, and choosing good lines are crucial even on a green trail, at least at Rausch Creek. While on this trail we turned hard left into a deep and narrow ridge and I did not have the needed flex. We were so close to rolling over. My instinct kicked in and I pressed the throttle hard and we made it out. At this moment I realized two things: 1) I was not afraid, and 2) I could do it again and I wanted to! This sparked a passion, determination, and love for off-roading and rock crawling, and I am super excited to see how far we can go.
- A Little about my Rig
Virago is her name and she’s a 2016 JKU Jeep Wrangler, 75th Anniversary Edition. She has a 3.5-inch Metal Cloak lift kit, 35-inch Nitto Ridge Grapplers tires, she has skid plates covering her engine, transmission, and gas tank, a Teraflex heavy duty rear differential cover, and we have relocated her evap-canaster. I install all her equipment and I complete all her maintenance needs with the supervision of my husband. As an off roader it’s important I know how to do this, and it helps with picking smart lines. We got big plans for her, but it will take time. Like all motor sports it’s not cheap.
I’m sure your wondering why I chose “Virago” as a Jeep name. Let me share with you why. It’s a historical noun mainly used in the 13th to 16th centuries to describe a rare kind of female. A “Virago” was a female warrior who displayed great heroism and battle skills, that were as equal to, or greater than that of a man. It was a high honor to be called as such. I truly believe as ladies we are underestimated in motor sports and people can be very stereotypical. I aim to be a Virago on the trail every time I go out, and I want my Jeep and her name to encourage all types of girls and women of all ages to be Virago’s out on the tracks of their choosing. We are strong, smart, brave and are real competitors!
I hope to add to this over time but since I have only been off-roading since May of 2020, I have not been to many places and aim to complete on more trails.
- Most of all the Blues trails that have been completed at Rausch Creek Off-Roading Park.
- Completed two Jeep Badges of Honor Trail (trail 11 and Krawlers Ridge)
- Successfully crosses Pit Jr, which is a deeper water bowel
- I’ve also learned a lot about the maintenance and mechanics of my rig because I do all the work on it under the observation and teaching of my husband.
- Goal 1: Keep progressing in trail difficulty and to improve my skills. Currently I am working on using two feet through the crawling sections, throttle control, and getting more comfortable with off camber and the limits of that without rolling.
- Goal 2: Continue to grow trust with my spotter and to learn to utilize them more. That can be hard to remember at times because when your looking at the trail and you pick a line, your confident in your decision and ready to take it on, but your spotter has a different perspective and can serve as a real important piece that could potentially save you and your rig a lot of damage. Got to keep that focus and use those spotters.
- Goal 3: Be wise with my build. Jeeps for off-roading are built and there’s a lot to consider while your building. I want to continue to educate myself on the current jeep parts and the possible upgrades that will improve my rock crawling goals.
- Goal 4: To travel to different off-roading parts and try different terrains. The top of my list is Colorado, California, and Utah, but I defiantly see Tennessee and Virginia as good starting points.
- Goal 5: To encourage other woman/ girls in motor sports to lift each other up and stand strong together. To compete as Viragos!
“Put her in 4low and let her go!”