The longest road in the world, the Pan-American Highway, also known as the Panamericana, is legendary and was celebrated in 2011 on its 75th anniversary. Between July 2 and July 13, Rainer Zietlow, Marius Biela, photographer and cameraman, and Carlos Fernandez, mechanic, covered the 23,000 kilometers from Tierra Del Fuego to Deadhorse, Alaska, in a record time of 11 days and 17 hours, breaking the existing record by more than 2 days.
The tour vehicle was a standard Touareg V6 TDI clean diesel. Only its tank capacity had been expanded for the trip with two additional tanks, adding 120 liters twice.
In the course of this nonstop-marathon drive through the American continents, the team crossed 14 countries and nearly all climate zones of the world. Only between Panama and Colombia was the Touareg transported in a charter plane to avoid the impenetrable Darien jungle.
The change from the easy-to-cross pampas to the difficult terrain of the Colombian highlands was a particular challenge. Two climbs of more than 3000 meters had to be mastered and the border to Costa Rica was opened especially at night so that the record-breaking team could pass it. In addition to the difficult conditions, such as rough gravel roads, there was a stone impact towards the end of the tour on the Dalton Highway that damaged the windshield. But despite the difficult view, the trip continued to the finish.
For every kilometer driven, Rainer Zietlow donated 20 cents to a Plan International school project in Lima and also visited it in person.