From housewife to rally racing pioneer, Renee Brinkerhoff is in tears

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The only thing better than a story about a classic car getting 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 self-prescribed like a car freak. After dreaming of running for 35 years, Renee finally bit the bullet at 55 and decided to take her retained passion seriously.

Valkyrie Race
Image courtesy of Valkyrie Racing

First, Renée found the right car: a 1956 Porsche 356A Outlaw (if only we could all be lucky enough to find such a perfect companion). To prove to herself and others that she was sincere in her ambitions, Renee signed up to participate in the La Carrera Panamericana rally in Mexico. After training with racing instructors and sharing a car in the 2012 competition, Renee chose the 2013 rally as her serious 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 form, but under the sheet metal was a 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, two Weber carburettors, a limited-slip differential, a five-speed manual gearbox, a rear suspension derived from the 911, four wheel disc brakes, roll bar and 80 liter fuel cell.

Image courtesy of Valkyrie Racing

Satisfied with the build, Renee competed in La Carrera Panamericana 2013 hoping to use the event as her own racing school. To say she learned quickly would be an understatement. Supported by a novice racing team (Valkyrie Racing) and a seasoned sailor, 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 to compete that year). After intense mechanical and psychological difficulties, Renee obtained another 2nd place in class in 2015.

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

From housewife to rally pioneer, Renne Brinkerhoff is our kind of hero. You can be sure we’ll be keeping an eye on his transcontinental adventures – so should you.

Images courtesy of Valkyrie Racing.

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