- Female rally driver takes on final leg of epic challenge to raise awareness around human trafficking.
- Vintage resto-modded Porsche 356A fitted with bespoke ski and track setup to drive on ice.
- Car will traverse 356 miles on frigid Antarctic ice and then attempt to set a land speed record.
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It takes much more than skis to traverse 356 miles of ice in Antarctica – especially if you drive a 1956 Porsche 356A vintage car. Senior Chassis Design Engineer Kieron Bradley, a UK-based extreme explorer, has spent more than 18 months re-engineering Valkyrie Racing’s classic vehicle mascot while ensuring the car itself remains both safe and carbon positive to complete the team’s long-awaited adventure on ice.
‘Project 356 World Rally’ is both an expedition and a humanitarian effort, and the December 2021 challenge sees the culmination of the ultimate endeavour by one woman, one car and one global mission to end child trafficking.
Denver-based racer and philanthropist Renee Brinkerhoff is the incredibly tenacious woman behind the wheel of this car and this project that provides a visual means for her voice to support an end to human trafficking.
She chose to take on nearly 20 000 miles overall across seven continents these past few years – primarily while partaking in globally recognised endurance rallies such as Peking-to-Paris and the East African Safari rally. The rallies additionally provided her with global media exposure to discuss the challenges and solutions for her cause and showcase her charitable foundation, Valkyrie Gives.
Driving on ice
The frigid ice of Antarctica requires a different sort of preparation and mindset to conquer the extreme environmental and weather conditions. While UK-based Tuthill Porsche has held a technical preparation role in nearly all of Brinkerhoff’s past rallies, Bradley’s background as a polar explorer and three times world record holder provides the perfect synergy for the engineering aspects he can offer for this specific venture.
“Success for Renee and her car will come from the balance of appropriate technology we’ve added and the mass reduction implemented,” says Bradley.
Because Brinkerhoff can anticipate full days of 24 hours of sunlight across Antarctica during this time of year, mass from elements such as lights, framework, fire extinguishers and wheels could be removed, while an increase in mass to accommodate the surface condition of the snow allows for the addition of tracks, ski, and crevasse bars, along with a specialised brace and suspension system.
Bradley further explained that while the mass in the 356 overall has been increased, the mass per square inch (footprint) using the ski and track system had been reduced to under 4 per cent of the standard wheel displacement.
“The ski we’ve created must do 40 to 50 per cent of the work by compacting and prepping the snow for the tracking unit to follow over, with the underside blade guiding the direction – this ensures the tracks will not submarine under the light snow,” he said.
Learning how to ski in a Porsche 356
If a pair of skis are only attached at the hub points on the vehicle, the hubs and connecting suspension system would potentially be overstressed and compromised, even under light use. Therefore, Bradley’s solution attached the ski brace bar to the ski leg, transmitting the load away from the hub points.
Not only do the aesthetics of the skis look great, but they were also specifically designed to be supported by all the other components and to make less of an impact on the snow than a footprint. Bradley discounted the use of tyres and proposed the skis and track combination, increasing the flotation by as much as 300 per cent compared to Antarctic 4x4 support vehicles on 42-inch tyres. The 356 will be gliding on the snow and leading the tracks throughout the entire journey.
Brinkerhoff’s navigator, Jason de Carteret, is a world record holder in polar exploration and has led more than fifty expeditions, including those to both the North and South Pole. De Carteret and Bradley together claimed two world records for the fastest overland journey to the South Pole travelling in the Thomson Reuters Polar Vehicle.
Brinkerhoff and De Carteret will attempt to set a land speed record on a blue ice runway in Union Glacier following the 356-mile endeavour.
Valkyrie Racing and Valkyrie Gives has created a community of supporters worldwide to join them in Antarctica and be part of a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience. The name of each donor who contributes a minimum of US $356 will be inscribed inside the hood of the car, receive a photograph of their name, and an exclusive ‘Antarctica Ice Challenge 356’ hat to commemorate their involvement. Donations can be made directly on the Valkyrie Gives website.