Extreme endurance racer Renee Brinkerhoff, her Valkyrie Racing team and her globe-trotting 1956 Porsche 356 coupe have arrived at Union Glacier in Antarctica, ready to set off on a 356-mile ice trek that will mark the 7th continent conquered by the driver and her vintage sports car, both 65 years old.
The Antarctica challenge comes after two years of effort and preparation, during which time the Porsche was re-engineered for the treacherous polar drive, and caps off Brinkerhoff’s remarkable story of dedication and stamina; since 2017, she and her 356 have competed on every continent in grueling cross-country racing and rally events.
Brinkerhoff’s team figured that the Porsche has been driven more than 20,000 miles through muddy swamps, deserts, mountains and forests in rally races that included the famed 2,000-mile La Carrera Panamericana in Mexico and the historic 9,000-mile Peking to Paris overland rally. She started the marathon of events in 2017, racing in La Carrera three years in a row.
She named her effort the Project 356 Worldwide Rally, which also includes an important charity arm called Valkyrie Gives, with the goal of raising awareness of and helping to combat the trafficking and exploitation of women and children. To donate to Valkyrie Gives, visit the charity website.
“You can’t put a price on the life of one child,” Brinkerhoff said in a Valkyrie Racing news release. “These are the world’s children and as we look deep inside ourselves, we know they too are our children.
“Child trafficking is a pandemic of its own with another name, and the more education we can provide and the more support we can offer, we can help to end something that should have never begun.”
The team’s main sponsor is PXG, the golfing research and development company based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Porsche, which has survived brutal abuse in some of the world’s worst driving conditions, has been fitted with a set of rear tractor treads and front skis attached to a sturdy subframe, along with other modifications deemed necessary for safety and survival by polar explorer Kieron Bradley, who led the engineering of the polar 356.
The Antarctica drive presents unique challenges for the Porsche and the team, and while it was originally planned to drive the 356 on its racing wheels and tires, Bradley determined that success would prove more likely with the purpose-built modifications. They also include a large “crevasse bar” on the front end to help traverse deep fissures encountered on the ice.
Now in Antarctica during what passes for summer at the bottom of the world, Brinkerhoff will drive with 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.
Brinkerhoff is accompanied by seasoned members of Valkyrie Racing, which includes her daughter, Christina, whose current duties are serving as the team’s photographer and historian; a graduate of the University of Southern California film school, she is creating a documentary of the world-record 7-continent initiative.
Also with the team are videographer Neil Carey and service/technical support leader Simon Redhead, who has been with Valkyrie Racing since the beginning.