The 1956 Porsche 356 coupe that has competed in rugged races and rallies on six continents with racer, adventurer and philanthropist Renee Brinkerhoff at the wheel, has been prepared for its latest trek on the seventh and final continent: Antarctica.
The little Porsche, which has received so much brutal punishment on some of the world’s most-treacherous roads, has been transformed for its icy solo run at the bottom of the world, which is expected to take place sometime toward the end of this year or early 2022.
The most obvious modifications are the set of skies that replace the front wheels and the stout tractor treads that take the place of the rear wheels, deemed necessary for the car’s 356-mile journey across the frozen terrain, which presents many unique obstacles. Also added is a stout “crevasse bar” on the front end to help traverse deep fissures encountered on the ice.
“The frigid ice of Antarctica requires a different sort of preparation and mindset to conquer the extreme environmental and weather conditions,” according to a news release from Brinkerhoff’s team, Valkyrie Racing.
“Senior chassis-design engineer Kieron Bradley,a UK-based extreme explorer, has spent the past 18+ months re-engineering Valkyrie Racing’s classic vehicle mascot while ensuring the car itself remains both safe and carbon positive to complete the team’s long-awaited adventure.”
Bradley’s experience as a veteran polar explorer and three-time record holder made him specially qualified to undertake the preparation of the vintage Porsche, which has been both strengthened and lightened for the task.
“Success for Renee and her car will come from the thoughtful balance of appropriate technology we’ve added, and the mass reduction implemented,” Bradley said.
Antarctica’s climate conditions presented both advantages and challenges, the release says.
“Because full days of 24 hours of sunlight can be anticipated across Antarctica during this time of year, mass from elements such as lights, framework, fire extinguishers and wheels could be removed, while an increase in mass to accommodate the surface condition of the snow allows for the addition of tracks, ski and crevasse bars, along with a specialized brace and suspension system,” the release says.
While it was originally planned to run the 356 with wheels and tires on the polar surface, Bradley decided it would be safer and more practicable to install the ski-and-track system, which are secured to a purpose-designed framework under the car for durability.
Brinkerhoff will be accompanied on her Antarctic trek by navigator Jason de Carteret, who is a world-record holder in polar exploration and has led more than 50 expeditions, including those to the North and South Poles. Following the 356-mile drive, Brinkerhoff and De Carteret will attempt to set a land speed record on a blue ice runway.
Besides its worldwide racing efforts, Valkyrie Racing has an important charity arm, Valkyrie Gives, with the goal of combating human trafficking worldwide. The team’s main sponsor is PXG, the golfing research and development company based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
For more information about Valkyrie Racing and Valkyrie Gives, visit the team website.