Modified Porsche 356A is heading to Antarctica.
Renee Brinkerhoff, founder of Valkyrie Racing, is on a mission to become the first driver to race a 1956 Porsche 356A (the precursor to the Porsche 911) on all seven continents. Covering nearly 20,000 miles across 18 countries in some of the most extreme locations in the world, the iconic Porsche 356A will race in conditions it was never originally designed to conquer.
It's for a good cause, too. Brinkerhoff is raising money for Valkyrie Gives, a charity that funds organizations fighting child trafficking. $500,000 has been raised so far but the goal is to reach $1 million once the globe-trotting Project 356 race is complete. For the final race, the 356A will face its toughest challenge yet, tackling treacherous ice and snow in Antarctica. For over 18 months, Senior Chassis Design Engineer and extreme explorer Kieron Bradley has been extensively modifying the 956A for its grueling adventure, transforming the vintage sports car into a hardcore ice racer.
Since there are 24 hours of sunlight in Antarctica this time of year, the lights, framework, fire extinguishers, and wheels could be removed. To navigate the ice and snow, the 356A is fitted with tracks, skis, crevasse bars, and a specialized brace and suspension system.
While the overall mass has increased, using the ski and track system has reduced the mass per square inch to under four percent of the standard wheel displacement. “The ski we’ve created must do 40 – 50 percent of the work, by compacting and prepping the snow for the track unit to follow over, with the underside blade guiding the direction – this ensures the tracks will not submarine under the light snow,” Bradley explained.
To avoid overstressing the hub points and suspension, the ski brace bar was attached to the ski leg. This solution has “less of an impact on the snow than a footprint.” The 356A will ride on the ski and track combination for the entire 356-mile journey since it increases the floation by as much as 300 percent compared to Antarctic 4×4 support vehicles on 42-inch tires. Other modifications include a roll cage, a rear track suspension mount frame, a four-ton bag jack to lift the car in soft snow, and a rear engine frame winch point.
Brinkerhoff will tackle the arctic conditions in the modified Porsche 356A ice car with navigator and polar explorer Jason de Carteret in December. After the epic race is complete, the pair will attempt to set a land speed record on a blue ice runway in Union Glacier.