Q: How did you guys end up racing together?
Ryan: Before we were dating, I’d done a few Baja trips and she joined on one of them. And once we started dating, she would go with me [to Baja] and it started gelling at that point. It was just enjoyable to do things in the car [an FJ Cruiser]. She didn’t get scared when I’d push it and have some fun and go over jumps.
Christina: I didn’t get car sick.
Ryan: She didn’t get car sick, which is a super-important thing. And then occasionally she would drive. And it was fun to ride with her and teach her what I knew and we both just kind of enjoyed that environment and it just grew quite naturally.
Christina: I always felt really comfortable with Ryan driving. He has this way of making people feel really safe in the car. So, it was always just really fun. And so when the rally program opportunity came up, it was kind of like: Well, Ryan travels all the time and he’s going to be gone all the time, so we can do this together or I can kind of like never see him.
Q: Did you have to learn special skills as a navigator?
Christina: I had to learn basically the whole process and the whole job, and that’s where his family became really, really helpful. His dad [Rod Millen] took a lot of time teaching us notes and working with us on how to write them and how to read them and how to call them. So that’s when his family really started helping us learn how to develop the driver/co-driver relationship.
Q: What was it like being in the car together, racing?
Ryan: In the back of my mind, I thought this was kind of a trial by fire, and you get to learn about someone really quickly in this stressful environment. And right after our first rally in the RAV4 in Idaho, we just had such a good time and enjoyed it and gelled. We both came home thinking how can we get better, and she had the right attitude about it. And around that time I was starting to think, “Man, I’m getting pretty serious.” [They got engaged shortly after in July 2015].
Christina: It’s a really intense relationship to be in the car together. But we’re both very respectful of the other person. And the interesting thing that happens with rally is you’re moving so quickly that even if you have a small disagreement or miscommunication or something, you have to move on to the next corner. You don’t have the time to fight about it. You have to forget about it the moment that it happens.
Q: Was it hard giving up racing together?
Christina: I think it was a natural progression. Ryan’s a professional driver and ultimately I think he was going to need a professional co-driver in the car. That being said, it’s really bizarre to not be in the car and I’m still not quite used to it. The biggest change for me is I feel like I don’t know what’s going on all the time, and I’m constantly waiting for information, which can be really stressful. I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually.
Ryan: There’s a part of me that really misses her in the car. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed what it did for our relationship. I think we’re still planning on doing an event or two each year together. It’s something that I want to continue doing because I think it’s something that’s so pivotal in our relationship.