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2015-06-05 09:50

AGE IS BUT A NUMBER: At the age of 97, Dorothy Caldwell (inset) will partner with her son Alastair, driving his 1963 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III, for the 2015 gruelling Tran-America Challenge. Image: Newspress

LONDON, England - The Trans-America Challenge is to play host to a woman who is believed to be the world’s oldest rally navigator - Dorothy Caldwell.

How old? Well, it's not polite to ask such a question of a lady, but she's happy to admit "I'm 97".

She will be participating in the Endurance Rally Association’s 9300km event (see map below) with her son Alastair, a former manager of the McLaren Formula1 team, in a 1963 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III.


Caldwell said: "When we lived in England, my family was into racing – my brother did it, and then both of my sons in New Zealand. The first rally I did with Alastair was in England in 2011.

"It seemed like quite a simple thing to me, so when he asked if I would navigate for him on the first Trans-America Challenge back in 2012 I said I would! Since then we’ve been to Burma for a rally and I’m about to leave for the second Trans-America Challenge.”

Alastair insists his mother has never tried to pull rank from behind the map: “We’ve never had a cross word on a rally - it’s a team effort and we work very well together.”


As navigator, Dorothy - awarded the prize for “Spirit of the Rally” on the 2012 Trans-America - looks after the maps and updates the trip-data meter. It’s a role that requires dedication and a constant alertness as the rally navigates a difficult route through challenging terrain.

Despite her age, Dorothy takes the arduous role in her stride and remains sharp regardless of the rally in question.

She said: “I’ll only go if he takes the Rolls-Royce, though. It’s more comfortable than his sports cars and it has air conditioning! I’m the last in my generation now; I’m starting to find it harder. I’m beginning to need glasses for distance and, as I’m in the middle of moving house, I think it might be time to ease back a little.

"This will probably be my last big rally but... well, Alastair tells me there’s going to be this big one. In New Zealand… I might be back for that.”


This the second Trans-America will start on Sunday (June 7) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and will finish in San Francisco, California on Sunday June 28. There will be 45 participants in cars ranging from a 1927 Bentley 4.5-litre to a 1973 MGB GT.

  • For updates on Dorothy and the progress of the Trans-America Challenge visit Eurorally's Trans-America site.

SOME DRIVE: Wouldn't we all like to do this - right across the widest part of North America. In a Rolls-Royce, nogal! Image: Supplied

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