The starting date has been set for extreme racer Renee Brinkerhoff’s 356-mile trek across Antarctic ice driving the 1956 Porsche 356 in which she and her Valkyrie Racing team have challenged every other continent on Earth in grueling cross-country racing and rally events.
Dubbed the Project 356 World Rally Ice Challenge, the trek across the frozen landscape is scheduled to begin December 5 when Brinkerhoff, her vintage Porsche that has been re-engineered for the polar hazards, and navigator Jason de Carteret, a famed world-record holder in polar exploration, power up for the treacherous drive.
The epic Antarctic drive will mark the seventh and final continent on which Brinkerhoff and her Porsche have traversed, an endurance-racing milestone for any rally car, much less a 65-year-old 356 sports coupe.
“We are on the precipice of completing our four-year journey to race one car on all seven continents,” a Valkyrie Racing announcement says. “When Valkyrie set out to do Project 356: World Rally Tour in 2017, we didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into. But when you say you’re going to do something – you better go do it.”
The Project 356 World Rally Tour includes a humanitarian component, named Valkyrie Gives, that provides education and funding to combat the international crisis of child trafficking.
“The impending 356-mile ice trek… will mark the conclusion of a near 20,000-mile commitment to pursue the ultimate endeavor by one woman, one car and one global mission to end child trafficking,” according to a Valkyrie Racing news release.
The Porsche 356, which has survived brutal conditions on some of the world’s most-treacherous roads, has been rebuilt and reconfigured for the solo run, with a set of skis replacing the front wheels and wide tractor treads taking the place of the rear wheels, among the many changes. Also added is a stout “crevasse bar” on the front end to help traverse deep fissures encountered on the ice. Solar panels will be deployed to take advantage of the 24-hour sunshine during the polar summer.
The Porsche was re-engineered for its polar drive by senior chassis-design engineer Kieron Bradley, a UK-based extreme explorer, who spent more than 18 months transforming the diminutive sports car into a purpose-built vehicle prepared for the challenges of the rugged, frozen terrain.
“The team departs for Chile on November 26th and from there we fly into Union Glacier, Antarctica on December 5th,” the announcement says. “Our aim is to drive 356 miles in the interior of the continent, this symbolic mileage will begin toward the South Pole and then will return back to base at approximately the half way point. The journey is extreme – understatement.”
Valkyrie Racing was created by Brinkerhoff originally to support her initial driving challenge of competing in the La Carrera Americana rally across Mexico, an open-road rally race regarded as one of the world’s most difficult competitive events. After winning her class the first time out in La Carrera, she was encouraged to enter and compete in similar extreme rally events around the globe.
The Valkyrie Racing 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.