Meet the woman planning to rally her Porsche 356 – in Antarctica
Facing the ultimate air-cooled challenge in sub-zero ice fields
After nearly two years of delays, amateur rally enthusiast Renée Brinkerhoff is at last preparing for the final stage of her Project 356 World Rally Tour. Having already raced her 1956 coupé on six continents, the last leg of an extreme and unprecedented global challenge will see the intrepid American traverse 573 kilometres – 356 miles – across the snow-covered continent of Antarctica. During the journey, Brinkerhoff will also attempt a land speed record for driving on ice.
The 356 A is already in transit from its workshops in the UK to Chile, from where it will be flown to the Union Glacier in Antarctica. Brinkerhoff and her Valkyrie Racing team will rendezvous in Chile at the end of November, with the event scheduled for 5 December. An extra year of waiting due to the pandemic has allowed the 356 to undergo a complete re-engineering programme for the treacherous terrain ahead, including fitting snow tracks to the rear of the car and skis for the front. While these additions increase the overall mass of the 356 – a major issue when driving over the ice – the mass per square inch has actually been reduced to under four per cent.
“Success for Renée and her car will come from the thoughtful balance of appropriate technology we’ve added, and the mass reduction implemented,” says Kieron Bradley, Senior Chassis Design Engineer for the project and a practiced extreme explorer in his own right. “The ski we’ve created must do 40 to 50 per cent of the work, by compacting and prepping the snow for the track unit to follow over, with the underside blade guiding the direction – this ensures the tracks will not submarine under the light snow.”
Because Brinkerhoff will also be going after a land speed record on a blue ice runway in Union Glacier, the skis and tracks must be easily removable to re-fit spiked ice tyres without needing to change the wheel alignment. A pneumatic inflatable jack will be used to enable the team make the change in such tricky conditions.
Navigating for Brinkerhoff will be British explorer Jason de Carteret, who has led more than 50 expeditions, including to the North and South Pole, and together with Kieron Bradley has claimed two world records for the fastest overland journey to the South Pole.
Jason de Carteret
Project 356 World Rally Tour is both an expedition and a humanitarian effort designed to help bring an end to child trafficking. Through Valkyries Gives, the philanthropic arm of the racing team, Brinkerhoff has already raised close to half a million dollars, with 100 per cent of the proceeds benefitting victims around the world. By the tour’s conclusion, Brinkerhoff will have driven close to 32,000 kilometres over the world’s seven continents, and partaken in endurance rallies such as Peking-to-Paris, the East African Safari Classic Rally and La Carrera Panamericana.
“While we are extremely proud of completing each endurance rally we’ve entered, our true mission has been for our racing efforts to become a worldwide visual that supports our vocal pursuit to end child trafficking,” says Brinkerhoff. “We’ve had a goal to break barriers and set new records and we’re hopeful our Antarctic expedition will do just that.”
Valkyrie Racing/Valkyrie Gives has created the ability for a community of worldwide supporters to join them in Antarctica and be part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. For a minimum donation of $356, you name will be inscribed inside the hood of the Brinkerhoff’s 356. For more information and to donate directly, visit www.valkyrieracing.com/donate356.