This Rally-Prepped Porsche 356 is Only as Impressive as its Trailblazing Driver

Renee Brinkerhoff
The only thing better than a story about a classic car being given new life is one that includes an owner who is just as inspiring as the car.

Renee Brinkerhoff is a 61-year-old mother of four, thrill-seeker, and amateur racing driver. Since acquiring a modified VW Beetle at the age of 17, Renee has been a self-prescribed car nut. After dreaming about racing for 35 years, Renee finally bit the bullet at age 55 and decided to get serious about her withheld passion.

Valkyrie Racing
Image Courtesy of Valkyrie Racing

First, Renee found the right car: a 1956 Porsche 356A Outlaw (if only we could all be so lucky to find such a perfect mate). To prove to herself and others that she was sincere in her ambitions, Renee signed up to compete in Mexico’s La Carrera Panamericana rally. After training with racing instructors and sharing a car in the 2012 competition, Renee settled on the 2013 rally as her earnest racing “debut.”

To prepare for the race, the 356A was gutted and rebuilt into a competitive racing weapon. On the outside, it was still a classic shape, but beneath the sheetmetal was a 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, dual weber carborateurs, a limited-slip differential, five-speed manual gearbox, 911-derived rear suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, roll cage, and 80-liter fuel cell.

renee brinkerhoff 356 world tour rally racing valkrie team car
Image Courtesy of Valkyrie Racing

Pleased with the build, Renee entered the 2013 La Carrera Panamericana expecting to use the event as her own racing school. To say she learned quickly would be a gross understatement. Supported by a novice race team (Valkyrie Racing) and seasoned navigator, Renee made history as a woman, placing first in her class. The following year, Renee finished second in her class and 14th overall (she was the only woman who competed that year). After intense mechanical and psychological hurdles, Renee achieved another 2nd place class finish in 2015.

The momentum hasn’t slowed: Renee and her race team are hungrier for seat time than ever before. Valkyrie Racing is now embarking on the 356 World Rally Tour, which will see her race the 356A in six rallies on all seven continents. The first race, completed this past October, saw Renee win her class at La Carrera Panamericana. Her next challenge is Australia’s Targa Tasmania this coming April 2018.

From housewife to rallying trailblazer, Renne Brinkerhoff is our kind of hero. You can be sure we’ll be keeping tabs on her transcontinental adventures – you should too.

Images courtesy of Valkyrie Racing.

Outdoor and Fitness

The Return of Dave Mackey: From Ultrarunner to Leg Amputee and Back

In 2016, ultrarunner Dave Mackey made the decision to amputate is left leg below the knee — but that hasn't stopped him.
Auto

All the Presidents’ (Coolest) Cars: A Look at How the POTUS Rolls

The presidential state car serves as a reflection of technological progress, the style of the time, and the stark realities of safety and security concerns.
Auto

5 Best Car Movies to Watch Again and Again

Everything that makes cinema extravagant and exciting is only enhanced by automotive action.
Grooming

How to Give Your Partner a Romantic Massage

We chatted with Swedish Institute-trained and licensed massage therapist Rich Kiamco about how to give the perfect massage.
Outdoors

The North Face and BMW Team Up for Revolutionary Futurelight Camper Concept

This is coolest, most futuristic camper money can't buy. Yet.
Auto

6 Fastest Electric Cars in the World

Everything we thought we knew about automotive physics was wrong.
Fashion & Style

Luxury Car Maker Pagani Teamed Up with Performance Footwear Maker Piloti for an Over-the-Top Boot Collaboration

An expensive, beautiful car deserves to be driven with expensive, beautiful boots.
Food & Drink

Busch Made Beer Cans Out of a Race Car and You Can Win One

If you like NASCAR and you like Busch, then you'll love this limited-edition series of beer cans.
Auto

Ford Revives the Harley-Davidson F-150 for 2019

Though the release was without the typical fanfare as per Ford’s known for, the 2019 Harley-Davidson F-150 will be an absolute boon to Ford’s already stellar F-150 track record.
Auto

KTM Releases Your New Favorite Motorcycle, the 790 Adventure and Adventure R

This is a motorcycle that’s been designed to go anywhere you’d like and get you back home without a problem.
Auto

Cake’s Newest Electric Motorcycle Prepares for Its Street Debut

Built as a fully street-legal electric motorcycle, the Kalk& (yes, that's the name) furthers the Swedish company’s minimalistic design and engineering aesthetic.
Auto

PlugVan Converts Most Vans Into Full-Fledged Campers in 5 Minutes

Your van can be backcountry-ready for the weekend and back to work Monday morning.
Auto

The RMK E2 Electric Motorcycle Wants to Rival Harley’s New LiveWire

Finland has produced more world racing titles than any other country on Earth. As such, it’s easy to understand the thought process behind this new bike.
Auto

Tesla’s Model 3 ‘Price Drop’ May Foretell a Looming Reckoning

If you looked at some news headlines, the $35,000 Model 3 is already here. So what gives and why does the faux price tag possibly spell a looming disaster?