Reaching their destination ahead of schedule

What can’t Rainer Zietlow and his team do? Actually, the answer to that question may be “arrive fashionably late.” These intrepid travelers braved snowy passes, scorching summer heat and less-than-stellar road conditions to drive from Ushuaia, Argentina to Deadhorse, Alaska in a Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel to complete the TDI-Panamericana Endurance Challenge faster than expected.

After driving through 14 countries and covering nearly 16,000 miles, the elated (but tired) team reached their destination. Here’s more from Rainer:

July 14th, Deadhorse, Alaska

Finally, we reached that last leg of our trip. We arrived at the famous Dalton Highway, which runs along the oil pipeline from Anchorage to Prudhoe Bay. This road was built in the 1970’s and allows drivers to reach Deadhorse, the northernmost point of Alaska, by car. The town of Deadhorse has no inhabitants and is populated only by oil company employees. 

Nevertheless, Deadhorse has a police chief, who flew in especially for us and greeted us in his police cruiser at the outskirts of Deadhorse. We then followed him on the public road to Checkpoint 1, which is where we officially stopped the clock and presented him with our gift for the Mayor of Deadhorse. From here, only a private road continues through the oil companies’ property, on which no one is allowed. We took a picture at this point and opened a bottle of champagne, since we not only mastered the endurance challenge of the TDI-Panamericana but also finished ahead of schedule. We were dead tired, but could not sleep due to the excitement. Finally, we chose one of Deadhorse’s two hotels and were glad to sleep horizontally for the first time in almost 12 days. 

All in all, we are very satisfied with how this journey went. We encountered very few problems, considering the amount of border stops we had to make and the changing terrain and weather conditions we encountered. A huge amount of preparation and engagement went into this trip on the part of our sponsors and partners, especially Volkswagen of America, whom we would like to thank very much for their dedication and hard work.

- Rainer

Tell us: What’s the best part about getting home after a road trip?

Be sure to check back next week for a special announcement about the tour. And you can always relive Rainer’s adventures online at, where you’ll find photos and videos documenting the journey from start to finish.

Rainer’s team drove a 2011 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel. The Touareg’s 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 TDI® Clean Diesel engine and 4MOTION® all wheel drive (AWD) system deliver the performance and durability required to tackle the many twists and turns of the Pan-American Highway. The engine provides an impressive maximum torque of 406 lbs.-ft. at 1,750 to 2,250 rpm while producing 225 horsepower at 3,500 to 4,000 rpm.

In order to account for the demands of the TDI-Panamericana Endurance Challenge, Rainer’s Touareg has been modified to include:

  • Innovative Inmarsat satellite technology for live communication, even in the most remote areas
  • The largest tires that fit the Touareg to better address bumpy roads throughout South America
  • An additional 300-liter fuel tank to extend the distance the vehicle can travel between refueling