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Polar Porsche Conquers Antarctica Ice Challenge

In the realm of automotive adventure, few endeavors are as audacious as attempting to drive across Antarctica. Yet, for rally driver Renée Brinkerhoff and her team, this ambitious goal is not just a dream—it’s a mission they’re determined to achieve. Armed with a modified 1956 Porsche 356A, affectionately dubbed the “Polar Porsche,” Team Valkyrie is gearing up to traverse the icy expanse of the seventh continent, aiming to make history and push the boundaries of automotive exploration.

Driver Renée Brinkerhoff videographer Neil Carey chief mechanic Simon Redhead navigator Jason de Carteret and operations manager Christina Brinkerhoff L R Photo courtesy of Valkyrie Racing

As the summer months approach in Antarctica, Brinkerhoff and her team are preparing to embark on their monumental journey. The summer season, which spans from October to February in the southern hemisphere, offers a narrow window of opportunity for exploration in Antarctica’s harsh climate.

Union Glacier, their starting point, will soon bear witness to the historic departure of the Polar Porsche, setting the stage for an epic adventure across the frozen landscape.

At the heart of this daring expedition lies Project 356, a bold initiative to drive on all seven continents and solidify Brinkerhoff’s place in automotive history. Covering a distance of 356 miles in Antarctica, the project represents the culmination of years of planning, preparation, and unwavering determination. However, traversing the treacherous terrain of Antarctica requires more than just a conventional vehicle—it demands innovation, adaptability, and ingenuity.

To transform the classic Porsche 356A into a formidable snow-and-ice machine, Brinkerhoff’s team enlisted the expertise of engineer Kieron Bradley. The key to their modifications lies in achieving optimal mass reduction while enhancing traction and stability on the icy surface. The Polar Porsche confidently navigates Antarctic terrain with specialized tracks and skis for precision.

Bradley elaborated on the engineering challenges faced in modifying the Porsche, emphasizing the delicate balance between technology and weight reduction. The custom-designed skis play a crucial role in compacting and preparing the snow, allowing the track units to follow smoothly without submerging—a critical factor in maintaining momentum and stability in icy conditions.

Despite the inherent challenges posed by Antarctica’s extreme environment, the Polar Porsche is poised to defy expectations and showcase the capabilities of automotive engineering in the harshest of conditions. Porsche acknowledges the complexities of balancing modifications with the car’s inherent weight, particularly with its single-arm suspension and coil-over shocks. However, through meticulous planning and innovation, Team Valkyrie has overcome these obstacles, ensuring that the Polar Porsche is ready to conquer the frozen frontier.

As Brinkerhoff and her team prepare to embark on their historic journey, they carry with them not only the spirit of adventure but also a deep-seated passion for exploration and discovery. The Polar Porsche represents more than just a vehicle—it symbolizes the relentless pursuit of dreams and the unyielding determination to push beyond the limits of what is deemed possible. As Team Valkyrie traverses Antarctica’s icy expanse, they pioneer a new chapter in automotive history, showcasing courage and resilience.

Renée Brinkerhoff’s journey with Valkyrie Racing and the iconic Porsche 356 has been nothing short of remarkable. From traversing six rallies across seven continents to covering nearly 20,000 miles, her mission to combat child trafficking has left an indelible mark. Brinkerhoff, a mother of four from Colorado, embarked on this ambitious quest after her children had grown up, defying age and expectations.

At 55, she pivoted from a life as a stay-at-home mom to pursuing her dream of becoming a racecar driver, despite lacking prior experience. The vehicle of choice for this extraordinary venture? A timeless 1956 Porsche 356, symbolizing both resilience and determination.