Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Stay-at-Home Mom Turned Race Car Driver ‘Made Fear My Friend’

Renée Brinkerhoff found her true self at high speeds

VIDEO: Meet Renée Brinkerhoff, the First Person to Race a Car on 7 Continents

One day, at age 55, I said to myself, I’m going to race a car. I knew nothing about cars, but I had to go do it.

By sharing the cost with a co-driver, I was able to join the 2012 Carrera Panamericana, a seven-day, 2,000-mile rally race through Mexico. It was an extreme experience, with danger at every turn, but it changed my life.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine. Find out how much you could save in a year with a membership. Learn more.

Join Now

The following year, I bought a 1956 Porsche 356 A and entered the Carrera as the head of my own team — and won first in class. As a female driver of a vintage Porsche, I was an anomaly. The more races my team and I podiumed, the more I wondered how we could use the attention to effect change in the world.

spinner image Renée Brinkerhoff, CEO Valkyrie Racing and Valkyrie Gives, with her Polar Porsche (made from a Porsche 356) at her home in Denver, Colorado, Thursday, October 13, 2022. Brinkerhoff has raced on all seven continents and is committed to fighting child trafficking around the world.
Brinkerhoff outfitted her car with tractor treads for a race across Antarctica.

We came up with the idea of putting the car and team through extreme challenges on each of the seven continents, to raise funds and fight for a cause. But which cause?

I happened to meet an FBI agent who investigated child pornography and child sex trafficking. He told me horrifying stories that I couldn’t unhear. I thought, This is such a difficult subject, but it’s what I have to do.

We created a nonprofit and have supported 13 groups that fight human trafficking and restore its victims. We’ve raised more than $700,000 toward an initial goal of $1 million.

What I’ve learned is that when you conquer your fears, you find strength you didn’t know you had. And you’re capable of doing incredible things.

Denver resident Renée Brinkerhoff, 66, founded the nonprofit Valkyrie Gives in 2019.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?