Renée Brinkerhoff Takes On Peking To Paris Rally In Seven-Continent Record Attempt, And To Fight Child Trafficking
As recently as 2013, Renée Brinkerhoff had never so much as experienced a road race. Yet then the mother-of-four at the age of 57 chose to take the plunge, well and truly at the deep end, by making her debut in the legendary and dangerous 2000-mile La Carrera Panamericana rally, driving a 1956 Porsche 356A. And she exceeded all expectations by earning class victories in the Mexican race four years in a row, as well as made history as the “only woman to finish the race” every year she took part. And she hasn’t stopped there, as this encouraged her in October 2017 to embark on the Project 356 World Rally Tour.
In this, Valkyrie Racing team founder Brinkerhoff and her team set out on a world record attempt of racing the iconic 356 on all seven continents—even Antarctica! 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.
Brinkerhoff is about to set off on race four of the six, the month-long Peking to Paris rally that kicks off on June 2. And on this she will not only tick off continents on her list, but with it extend her mission to fight child trafficking internationally. Given the attention her story received, Brinkerhoff realized it could be used to promote the good cause and a charitable wing called ‘Valkyrie Gives’ was formed. Brinkerhoff began researching social problems in the countries she was rallying through; finding that child trafficking was a major issue across the Americas. She learnt too that similar issues were found in Asia where she will race on the Peking to Paris event, and also in East Africa, where as leg five of six she will be racing in late 2019 on the East African Safari Classic. Then in 2020 the final leg in Antarctica awaits…
During each rally Valkyrie Racing gives financial support to closely vetted charitable efforts active in preventing or intervening in trafficking operations and restoring victims of trafficking. These charities provide education, rescue victims, provide legal assistance and travel funds to repatriate victims and nurture and counsel them after their rescue, for a healthy and productive future.
“I had so much spare energy and personal time when my children left home,” said Brinkerhoff. “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 peoples’ lives better. 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.”
Images courtesy of Valkyrie Racing