Renée Brinkerhoff Completes Peking-To-Paris Rally In Porsche 356 To Fight Against Human Trafficking
Completing the 36-day Peking-to-Paris rally is a tough enough challenge in itself. But for Renée Brinkerhoff, who took part with her Valkyrie Racing team driving a 1956 Porsche 356A, this was not all that she achieved. As only Brinkerhoff out of the more than 100 entrants led a separate charge through four countries.
This is because Brinkerhoff is a competitor with a difference. She rallies to spread the word to stop human trafficking. In 2016 she started ‘Project 356 World Rally’, and since then through her non-profit ‘Valkyrie Gives’ it has been a platform to bring visual attention to the world problem that keeps women and children at risk. Brinkerhoff therefore during the latest Peking-to-Paris event personally met with organizations and children in Mongolia and China to provide educational and financial support that will positively impact the lives of women and children on a global scale.
And Peking-to-Paris is but part of a world record attempt by Brinkerhoff to race the iconic 356 on all seven continents—even in Antarctica, where she will head in 2020! It’s a two and a half year-long effort consisting of six races and a combined total of 20,000 miles in some of the world’s most extreme conditions, a lot of which has never been traveled by a 356 before. To help, Brinkerhoff partnered with leading rally specialists including famed rallyist and Porsche restoration master Richard Tuthill. Next up for her will be the East African Safari Classic, beginning on November 27 and lasting 10 days.
“Rallying has provided me a world stage that entails so much more than fulfilling my passion to drive,” Brinkerhoff said. “My initial goal was to conquer six races on seven continents so I could give back something important on every continent we drove–and through those efforts we’ve been able to offer local support to orphanages and facilities to make a difference.” This past year alone, her organization has raised more than $100,000.
Brinkerhoff took part in Peking-to-Paris with navigator Calvin Cooledge, who is an experienced rally competitor from Wales and has participated in more than 300 rally events. This latest rally included varied terrain and swamp roads and covered more than 9000 miles, as well as eight time zones and 12 countries, including China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Belgium and finally France, with various driving, physical, technical, meteorological and emotional challenges along the way.
Fewer than 1000 drivers have ever run the Peking-to-Paris rally and Brinkerhoff further was one of only four women among the entrants this time. Adding to her achievement, as recently as 2013 Brinkerhoff had never so much as experienced a road race. Only then did the mother-of-four, at the age of 57, choose to make her debut, and she did so in the legendary and dangerous 2000-mile La Carrera Panamericana rally, driving the 356A
The very first Peking-to-Paris rally was in 1907 when four of the five entrant teams, responding to a challenge in Paris newspaper Le Matin and heading almost literally into the unknown, completed the course. The event was brought back in 1997, with 2019 being only the seventh time it has been run and completed.
Images courtesy of Valkyrie Racing