Valkyrie Racing Readies 1956 Porsche 356 A for Peking to Paris
After starting her rally career at 57, Renee Brinkerhoff has already made history. Now, she’s set to embark on the legendary month-long driving challenge on June 2 with a very special goal in mind.
In 2013, the rallying world was introduced to the most unlikely of newcomers: Renee Brinkerhoff, a then 57-year-old mother-of-four from Colorado. Brinkerhoff got her start with the gruelling La Carrera Panamericana, an annual 2,000-mile journey from border-to-border through the cities and back countries of Mexico. The event is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous in the world, reportedly claiming the lives of several on Brinkerhoff’s first day alone. Undeterred, she commandeered her 1956 Porsche 356 A to a class victory. To accomplish this feat, Brinkerhoff established Valkyrie Racing and enlisted the aid of renowned Porsche restoration expert and rallyist Richard Tuthill.
Continued success in La Carrera over the next three years led Brinkerhoff to challenge herself to a new goal of completing six rallies across seven continents, something dubbed “Project 356 World Rally Tour.” (Incidentally, she also made history as the only woman to finish La Carrera each year she has partaken.) Renee followed up her four consecutive class victories in La Carrera with a Targa Plate win at Targa Tasmania (2,000-mile Australian Rally Race) and a finish in the Caminos del Inca rally (over 2,000 miles in the Andes mountains) as the lone competitor racing a classic car. Currently, Brinkerhoff is preparing for the fourth of her six planned rallies: next month’s Peking to Paris.
On June 2, Brinkerhoff will embark on the month-long Peking to Paris rally, where she will not only further her goal, but extend her philanthropic mission on a global level through her dedication to fight child trafficking, a cause she has already championed in Mexico, Australia and Peru.
With attention pouring in from her successes on the rally circuit, Brinkerhoff founded the charitable organization Valkyrie Gives, as a way to help shine the spotlight on drawing awareness towards and combating child trafficking in the poorest regions of the world.
‘I had so much spare energy and time when my children left home. I initially filled this with rallying, an incredibly exciting passion which requires immense focus and courage. But I knew there was more I could do.’
“I had so much spare energy and personal time when my children left home,” said Brinkerhoff in a recent press statement. “I initially filled this with rallying, an incredibly exciting passion which requires immense focus and courage. But I knew there was more I could do. We started by exposing the audience that was building around our story to important social issues and asking for help to make people’s lives better.”
Brinkerhoff found child trafficking to be a significant crisis across the Americas while researching social issues of the countries she competed in.
“Understanding the scale of these problems and how a lack of transparency and education keeps children in danger from exploitation and trafficking, we reached out to some of the agencies on the ground in our target areas, to figure out ways we could help by pooling our resources,” she revealed.
Brinkerhoff says she intends to donate the financial support she earns with each rally to carefully vetted charitable organizations dedicated to ending child trafficking. The Valkyrie team has reportedly already raised over $100,000 in 2019 via a pair of charity golf events. For the upcoming rally, the team plans to distribute practical gifts and educational materials in the remote regions of Mongolia and Kazakhstan along the route.
Photos: Valkyrie Racing