EP75 | Dakar Rally and Overlanding? A Conversation with Off-Road Coach, Jimmy Lewis

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Considered by many in motorsport to be the world’s toughest race, the Dakar Rally is renowned for the extreme off-road challenges it poses for both motorcyclists and drivers alike. Described as not just the biggest Rally Raid in the world, but as “an incomparable human adventure,” this year’s Dakar Rally will last 14 days and take place in Saudi Arabia.

So what do the Dakar and overlanding have in common? Why are we talking about the Dakar on the XOVERLAND Podcast? Find out by joining our conversation with moto legend and off-road coach, Jimmy Lewis. Nearly winning the Dakar Rally during his racing career, Jimmy now coaches the top racers in the U.S. to compete in the Dakar. Jimmy’s current student, moto competitor, Ricky Brabec, is the first American ever to win the Dakar.

Thankfully for all of us who are not racers, Jimmy is eager to share his expertise in all areas related to riding, driving, and navigating in off-road environments. Course designer of the Rebelle Rally and owner/operator of Jimmy Lewis Off-Road Training, Jimmy has improved the off-road skills of top pro riders and thousands of his amateur students.

Get ready to be entertained by Jimmy’s colorful stories of Dakar and beyond while settling into in-depth conversations that will improve your off-road knowledge and skillsets no matter what vehicle you choose to adventure with.


Part 1 (0:40-3:10) Episode Intro:  Jimmy and Leah introduce this episode’s special guest, JIMMY LEWIS – (NOT Jimmy Lewis the Xoverland Podcast Host!). Our guest is Jimmy Lewis of Dakar fame, a contemporary moto legend and off-road coach, specializing in Rally Racing and, for the amateurs among us, ADV riding (“Adventure Motorcycling). Jimmy currently serves as the course director for the Rebelle Rally in the U.S., trains top Dakar riders like Ricky Brabec (America’s first-ever Dakar winner) to prepare for the Dakar Rally, and coaches all levels of riders at his Off-Road School in Pahrump, Nevada. 

Part 2 (3:10-5:54) Welcome, Jimmy Lewis, Moto-Racing Legend and Off-Road Coach:  Moto-legend and Off-Road Coach, Jimmy Lewis, joins us for this episode of the XOVERLAND Podcast. At the height of his racing career, Jimmy won the International Six Day Enduro four times and stood on the podium of the Dakar Rally. Now he trains riders to success in the Dakar Rally, including American Ricky Brabec, while coaching all levels of off-road enthusiasts in the fundamentals and nuances of navigation and off-road motorcycling skills from his headquarters in Pahrump, Nevada. 

Part 3 (5:55-14:40) A Deep Dive into the Background and Experience of Jimmy Lewis, Off-Road Coach:  Jimmy shares his philosophy of “Don’t tell me I can’t” and explains how this approach to life ultimately led him down the path of racing success. Jimmy shares his moto-racing accomplishments and accolades and how those translated into his new role as a top-tier off-road coach.

Part 4 (14:41-20:55) Jimmy Lewis on Getting Started in the Dakar Rally:  Jimmy explains what drew him to the Dakar Rally, how he was able to get involved while working as a moto-journalist, and eventually how he achieved racing success in this prestigious rally famous for its extreme off-road challenges. 

Part 5 (20:56-24:13) Jimmy Shares Lessons Learned from his Racing Experience in the Dakar Rally:  Jimmy discusses the history of Americans racing in Dakar, including his own experience, and what the Dakar looks like from a racer’s perspective. Jimmy goes on to compare the Baja 1000 with the Dakar Rally.

Part 6 (24:14-40:30) What do the Dakar Rally and Overlanding have in Common? Jimmy Lewis describes the original Dakar Rally from Paris, France to the town of Dakar in Senegal Africa in 1977 as “overlanding in its purest form,” an event that inspired a great deal of motorized adventure travel to follow. Jimmy shares why this is the case, and discusses the similarities between overlanding and the Dakar. Jimmy (the podcast host) looks at what we can learn as overlanders from studying this famous off-road rally and its racers. 

Part 7 (40:31-48:09) Jimmy Lewis’s Evolution from Dakar Racer to Off-Road Coach: Jimmy Lewis started working with U.S. moto racer, Ricky Brabec, about 5 years ago in preparation for Ricky’s entry into racing the Dakar Rally. Ricky became the first American ever to win the Dakar on a motorcycle (and in any class). Jimmy explains the work he does with top U.S. racers and how this translates into the coaching he provides for the amateur-level students attending his off-road school. 

Part 8 (48:10-57:55) What can Overlanders and ADV motorcyclists learn about NAVIGATION from Dakar Rally Coach, Jimmy Lewis? Jimmy gets into the specifics of what we, as amateur off-road enthusiasts, can learn from his coaching when it comes to our own off-road navigation for overlanding and adventure motorcycling. 

Part 9 (57:56-1:06:28) What is Jimmy’s School:  Jimmy Lewis Off-Road? Jimmy shares the details of his “Off-Road School” in Pahrump, Nevada, explaining all elements of his and his team’s coaching, including in-person and online training. Jimmy further explains the philosophy behind his approach to coaching, and how his teaching nowadays applies to both motorcycles and four-wheeled vehicles.

  • Who is Emily Miller? We mention her several times in this episode. She is the founder of the Rebelle Rally, an experienced off-road racer, and works with Jimmy to design the course for the Rebelle Rally each year. Listen to our podcast with Emily HERE.

Part 10 (1:06:29- 1:16:34) Why is it important to get high-quality coaching for off-road driving or riding?  It is not uncommon for someone starting into overlanding, off-road driving, or ADV riding to spend tens of thousands of dollars on vehicles and equipment, but what about coaching? We discuss the value of high-quality coaching for all of these pursuits and how this kind of instruction can elevate your experience. Jimmy provides more details about his school, including his new online platform, along with a description of his own podcasts designed to help riders learn and develop new skills.

Part 11 (1:16:35-End) Episode Outro: Having listened to the podcast, XOVERLAND Podcast co-host, Leah Heffelfinger, and host, Jimmy Lewis, chat about the episode, underscore key elements of the conversation, and share what they’ve learned with listeners.

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