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Meet the First Woman to Drive Around the World

The Extraordinary Life of Clärenore Stinnes

The German Clärenore Stinnes was born in 1901. At age 24 she became a race car driver, and only 2 years later had 17 wins to her name, making her one of the most successful race car drivers in Europe at the time. In 1927 she decided to drive around the world. Stinnes met the Swedish cinematographer Carl-Axel Söderström, who agreed to photograph the journey. Two days later the pair were off to drive around the world, accompanied by two mechanics, and a freight vehicle carrying spare parts.

Sponsored by the German automotive industry, two years later, Clärenore became the first woman in history to circumnavigate the globe in a car. The journey, which started and ended in Berlin, put 29,000 miles on the odometer of their Adler Standard 6 car. To complete the expedition, the pair drove through the Balkans, passing Beuirut, Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran en route to Moscow. The crossed Siberia via the frozen Lake Baikal and the Gobi desert, arriving in Peking. By ferry the duo arrived in Japan and onto Hawaii and South America. Traveling up through South and Middle America, they visited Vancouver, Washington D.C. and New York before taking their final ferry to Le Havre. After returning, Söderström divorced his wife and married Stinnes. The couple had three kids of their own, fostered several more, and lived happily ever after in Sweden until Söderström's death in 1976. Stinnes herself made it to 1990.

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