I-CAR’s Rachel Castle Tells All: Inside Scoop on Bronco Build Created in Secret by All-Female Team for 2022 SEMA
11/14/2022 by Val D'Anna
I-CAR’s Rachel Castle has been holding on to an exciting secret these past few months. The delivery enablement manager for I-CAR’s Southeast Region can finally share her experience as a member of the All-Female SEMA Build Team, now that SEMA has staged the “reveal” of the team’s modified build. For this special event, a Ford Bronco 4-door Wildtrak was modified according to a rendering by a female designer. The brainchild of the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN), the All-Female Build with a SEMA reveal is designed to support and attract women to automotive fields. This is only the second time in 10 years that SBN has coordinated this event.
A casual observer might not notice anything different about this particular Bronco Wildtrak. But Castle and other women on the build know every little modification made with aftermarket parts and what manufacturers produced those parts. They know about a surprising feature of the grille; the letters spelling out Bronco light up. They even met the female designer who dreamt up the one-of-kind prototype grille that Ford produced just for the build. And they know why there’s not another car like it on the road, because it was designed and modified completely by women who worked under the supervision of female technical experts.
Attending SEMA Shows since 2018 to help manage delivery of I-CAR courses, Castle got the opportunity at the 2021 show to attend the SBN’s Gear-Up Girl networking event. She felt a connection to the women she met and knew the SBN “was something I wanted to be a part of. I want to be able to support and encourage other women in the industry and the younger generations coming in. The SEMA Businesswomen’s Network is a great place to do that. There’s no judgment. Everyone’s purpose in the network is to uplift and encourage you on your journey.”
As a SBN member, Castle was ‘in the loop’ for communications on the 2022 build project, but initially assumed she wasn’t qualified to sign up. She explains that she’s completed all of I-CAR’s hands-on skills development courses and on occasion joins her husband in their family garage to assist on vehicle builds and customization, but she couldn’t picture being accepted on the All-Female Build team. When she discovered “they were looking for women with all levels of experience, I knew I wanted to participate.” Castle volunteered to work on the build and also to assist on the events team to set up post-SEMA public exhibitions of the modified Bronco Wildtrak, which will be auctioned off for a SBN fundraiser.
Castle’s part in the build took her to Detroit in September for the final stage of the build. The Bronco, donated by Ford, had been shipped there from the California SEMA Garage, where another group of All- Female Build volunteers handled the tear down and some preliminary steps of the build. Castle worked the first of two weeks the build was scheduled to be completed at the Detroit SEMA Garage. She and her teammates installed exterior accessories, electrical and lighting – areas Castle was eager to learn about. Although Castle was working “outside her comfort zone,” she never felt overwhelmed. “This was a well thought out process. Each morning we met to go over what task we would complete that day. If we ran into a challenge, the build manager (from SBN) had someone there or on standby to help solve it.”
Castle was pleased to expand her understanding of vehicle design and construction and found it rewarding to “share what knowledge I did have with others and encourage them on their journey. I honestly was not sure what to expect going in, but the experience was like no other. I learned so much and met some amazingly talented women and developed friendships in the process.”
SBN has not announced any future All-Female Builds, but in the meantime, Castle encourages women to join this organization. Members are not required to attend SEMA, but their employer must be a SEMA member. “Just do it! Join SBN.” Castle says.
Castle will be following SBN news, watching if a future build gets planned. “If given the chance to do it again, I absolutely would. If you’re as fortunate as me to work for an organization like I-CAR that supports women in this industry and allows you to participate in the build, sign up…even if you do not have any experience at all! I promise you, if you feel you do not know enough going into the build, you will know a lot more after you leave. Someone will teach you. Step outside your comfort zone and do it, you will not regret it!”
About Rachel Castle: As a delivery enablement manager for I-CAR’s Southeast Region, Castle is responsible for the management of all full-time and part-time I-CAR instructors and assessors within this region. Working at I-CAR’s Industry Support Center and home office since 2018, she also has responsibility for scheduling and managing virtual delivery of instructor-led training. Her 20 years of industry experience includes working in the insurance segment.