Our first 2020 Motorsports Immersion event in Canada is completed and our beneficiaries were glad to get back to the track with their team, returning to a little more "new normal" with their race family at TWOth Autosport, in the familiar surroundings of Canadian Tire Motorsports Park...........with a whole lot less people, but all in all it was a resounding success.
Thank you Travis, Trevor, Jenna Hill and the rest of the TWOth team for your efforts in bringing Theo and Dale back into the fold.
We are excited to welcome RECARO to our iRacing League which kicks off in a little over 2 weeks. Expanding our partnership with RECARO who will help us make this form of Diversionary Therapy available to any beneficiary who wants to participate in our 8 race virtual racing league.
After a successful initial foray into virtual racing with an exploratory 6 race iRacing series, we are pleased to share that we have added eMotorsport into our Diversionary Therapy Program and eMotorsport will become a gateway into a yet to be formally announced Driver Development Program.
This is a great way to introduce service members and veterans to our Foundation and involve our volunteers and supporting motorsports professionals. The Operation eMotorsport iRacing League will be kicking off on Aug 18 with a 60 minute sprint race from VIRginia International Raceway and we still have space available for interested drivers.
This will be a single make series (Mazda MX-5 Global Cup) with 3 classes of drivers, OpMo Beneficiary class, Open class, Pro class.
In the coming days and weeks we will be making exciting announcements about the League rules & regulations, point system, individual event prizes and championship end of season prizes awarded by class.
If you know a medically transitioning military member or veteran that might be interested in our programs please encourage them to apply or contact us directly.
SRO Motorsports America has announced its support of the Operation Motorsport Program Foundation and its mission to aid the recovery and rehabilitation of American and Canadian service members and veterans. Staff from both organizations will work to increase the awareness of the Foundation via the GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, GT Sports Club, Pirelli GT4 America and TC America series.
Operation Motorsport is a not for profit charity that serves American and Canadian service members and veterans and was founded on the basis of three simple words: excite, engage and empower. The premise is to engage ill and injured Service Members and veterans affected by military service, through motorsport activities to aid in their recovery and rehabilitation. The Foundation recently received its formal 501(c)3 charity status approval.
“Using motorsports to aid in the recovery of our ill, injured and wounded service members and veterans, Operation Motorsport creates opportunities for former soldiers to participate side-by-side with professional race team members in actual championship races,” said Diezel Lodder, Founder & CEO, Operation Motorsport. “Over the past three years, Operation Motorsport launched its efforts to use sports car racing to heal our wounded veterans. This new SRO Motorsports Group America partnership ensures a stable future for our organization that seeks to deliver recoveries for men and women whose sacrifices for their countries cannot be measured.”
The SRO Motorsports America 2020 season kicks off at The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX, March 6-8. For more information visit sro-america.com.
“It’s extremely important that we do our part to help the recovery of the brave women and men who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms and way of life,” said SRO Motorsports America President and CEO, Greg Gill.
In 2019, Operation Motorsport began to focus on and educate supporters on the importance of the number "22" within the military community. On average, 22 service members and/or veterans from North America die from suicide each day.
Suicide is preventable and effects all aspects of our society regardless of economic or demographic background. Amongst our military and veteran population, the impact of suicide and suicidal thoughts and behaviors is even greater. It impacts military readiness, morale, family cohesiveness, and our ability to defend our way of life. The number of suicides is disproportionately higher within our veteran population than the civilian population with the highest percentage amongst the 18-39 age bracket. Based on 2017 data, the average number of suicides per 100,000 persons within the US population was 17 while the average per 100,000 veterans was 31.
When I'm in a race car, I'm the creator of my own destiny. “ That which you manifest is before you.” Create your own conditions, and rain is just rain.' - Denny Swift (The Art of Racing in the Rain)
Veterans can be an inspiration to people all over the world from different walks of life and to people in many different professions. They inspire from heroic acts performed by a single individual or to how they work as a team with little in common to overcome what ever obstacle in in their way.
They seem to thrive working, playing or even healing as a team. Teamwork can be anything from a fire team putting artillery on target, two veteran students working on a college project or a professional motorsports team striving to win an endurance race while providing an outlet and a means for an injured veteran to recover.
During the first big race weekend of the year at Daytona International Speedway that is exactly what happened. Members of the Operation Motorsport family worked side by side with race teams that took part in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Endurance Race as well as the 58th running Rolex 24 Hour Endurance Race. The way these races ended have similarities to how some of our veterans feel, sometime landing on their head and other times finishing in first place. We can tell you stories of what we see and how we think the beneficiaries feel, but it truly is best coming right from the veterans themselves.
#81 TWOth Autosport Race Engineer
Lieutenant (Ret) Theo Bruulsema
Going to the Daytona 24 is always an incredible experience! This year I was fortunate to continue working with TWOth, as well as the Bestline team in a joint Canadian effort. The teamwork and intense competition each weekend provides is addictive, building you up and grabbing your full attention, and even more so with such a prestigious race. The result is a perfect start to 2020!
To all of the generous individuals, volunteers, teams, and organizations that have supported our vision and mission through 2019, and in turn, touched the lives of each of the Operation Motorsport beneficiaries ..............without all of you, we could not continue to provide these incredible recovery opportunities to those who have given so much.
From the entire Operation Motorsport Program Foundation team, Thank-you!
Have a safe and happy new year where ever you may be and we hope to see you all again in 2020.
A sneak peak into some of our plans for 2020;
After the bugle stops playing, that magical feeling of a podium finish fades, all the hugs good bye and tears are wiped away, what is left is reflecting on a journey. A journey of recovery for those affected by service. One that often starts with a leap of faith for many and one that is not defined by an end or conclusion, but is defined by the journey itself. After all this is about recovery, and each beneficiaries story is unique and personal. What is not unique is that although they have all returned to daily life, the struggles are still real and not over. What makes this journey unique is that we are all part of a larger extended family, one that reaches way past the race weekends and all of the shiny bits, one that sees them looking out for each other and looking forward to reuniting somewhere down the road. For everyone that has supported this effort in any way, thank you .
I don't post much about my life on social media like some do, I have, but not lately..... no food pics, no political posts, no criticism of others, no bullshit. But today I want to post about some of the great people I have in my life and what they have done for me.
I haven't worn my medals on a Remembrance Day parade in over 10 years, for my own reasons......but this year was different. I had "family" surrounding me and helping me through, what was a very emotional event. Not just any parade, but a Remembrance Day parade in Angelsy, Wales as I participated in the Race of Remembrance .
Last year they helped me through the parade, this year they convinced me to be proud of my military accomplishments and to be proud of my medals as well.........
Thank you and much love goes out to my "family" at Operation Motorsport .
The Operation Motorsport team brought the #22 car to their best finish yet. After being as far back as 29th the OpMo beneficiaries from Canada and the U.S. battled their way back through the field. Just as Soldiers on the battlefield OpMo took its time to strategically work its way through the field with perfectly timed pit stops and driver changes. The final result happened on the last lap of the race.
A 12 hour Motorsport Endurance Race in support of ill, injured, and wounded service members, in Anglesey, Wales, UK with a difference, a Remembrance Day service bang in the middle of it................
Operation Motorsport made it’s final 2019 appearance at GT World Challenge at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. What started out, at VIR in April, as a collaborative cooperation with the series, has quickly become a regular stop for beneficiaries in 2019. As Operation Motorsport witnessed a genuine desire by teams to participate in the programs and the willingness by teams to welcome and immerse beneficiaries to the limit of their abilities. The only restrictive factor in program growth and delivery was a self imposed limit in order to maintain the highest level of recovery programs opportunities. After a very positive and productive full season, plans are underway for bigger and better start to 2020 at the first GT event at CTMP.
Operation Motorsport is celebrating a successful year of helping injured and wounded service members become ingrained in the motorsport community after the IMSA season finale at Petit Le Mans this past weekend.
While we have enjoyed helping our beneficiaries this year through our Excite, Engage and Empower program, we are also sad the 2019 racing season has come to an end and will be saying goodbye to some them and our partner teams until the 2020 IMSA season picks back up in January.
Watkins Glen, NY. (Sep 03, 2019) – Operation Motorsport reconvened once again at Watkins Glen International to unite disabled veterans and wounded warriors with SRO Motorsports teams Aug. 29 - Sep 01, 2019. Beneficiaries once again had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in all areas of a race teams operations including working directly with the vehicles, hospitality, and media operations. A special heartfelt thanks goes out to Tony Ditto and the the entire team at Alegra Motorsports for taking on a last minute beneficiary, which meant hosting 3 beneficiaries for the event, two in the engage and one in the excite program.
Last weekend Operation Motorsport was at Watkins Glen, NY connecting injured service members with race teams during the SRO-Motorsports Blancpain GT World Challenge America.
Eight service members and veterans joined the Operation Motorsport team to continue to engage in motorsport immersion activities to assist in aiding their recovery and rehabilitation.
Operation Motorsport beneficiaries supported a number of teams including, Alegra Motorsports, Park Place Motorsports - Volt Racing, GMG Racing, Crowdstrike Racing -DXDT Racing and TWOth Autosport, entered in the Blancpain GT World Challenge America.
We are extremely excited about our new partnerships with Crowdstrike Racing, DXDT Racing and GMG Racing. With new teams come new opportunities for our beneficiaries and new perspectives on the value it brings to recovering warriors.
We were able to quickly capitalize on these new opportunities at Watkins Glen by embedding active duty Army Sergeant Major Jason Leach onto the Crowdstrike Racing / DXDT Racing team. As Jason's newly accepted role in OpMo is "US Military Liaison" and "Team Manager", it was a good fit as the first interaction between the two organizations, Jason was able assess his experience with the team as very positive and found the team very welcoming, professional and positive. We hope to see the full benefits of this new relationship in 2020 with deserving beneficiaries.
The other new team partner, GMG Racing, saw US Army SFC David Meyer embedded into the team. Robert "Bob" Page, President / CEO of The Page Group had this to say, " David Meyer, SFC, US Army, the embedded team member of Operation Motorsport working with CrowdStrike / AWS and Team GMG at Watkins Glen this past weekend shared with us these amazing photo's he has taken of the crew and team during his time working with them. These returning service men and women bring with them amazing skills and talents, David obviously has an eye for photography, that we need to explore as they come out of the active duty service and return home and rejoin the work force. The skills that they have built up, and the work ethic they share are first rate, and we need to look them in the eye and give them the opportunity to share the incredible skills they bring with them as they join our companies and become part of our normal working society. Don't underestimate their ability to grasp and develop skills quickly as that is part of the character of these military vets. Congrats to David for his amazing talent, and the great support he gave team GMG...he was a very positive addition to our efforts at Watkins Glen."
In TWOth's first outing in SRO competition with three OpMo beneficiaries joining in the fight, TWOth Autosport claimed a resounding success with a First Place sweep in TCR competition over the 2 weekend races.
Beneficiary team members Dale Newbury and Cody Reinecker were responsible for ensuring both cars had the proper amount of fuel for each practice, qualifying and race sessions, while OpMo Admin Coordinator Mel Gallagher was responsible for ensuring the proper amount of fuel was supplied to the humans. ..... which included the occasional trip into town for replenishment in team driver Ed Killeen's Aston Martin........ No position is off the table if the beneficiary is up to the challenge.
Operation Motorsport convened once again to unite disabled veterans and wounded warriors at Virginia International Raceway, Alton, Virginia, for the Michelin GT Challenge from Aug. 23-25, 2019. Participants had the opportunity to work with well-established teams and gain hands-on experience in all areas of a race teams operations including working directly with the vehicles, hospitality, and media operations.
The USO of NC was there to support us at our first event at VIR, and has continued to provide immeasurable support through the years as we work together providing recovery paths for our beneficiaries and their pathfinder clients.
This year they saw them step it up by bringing their mobile unit and Bob was an amazing ambassador to all who connected up with him.
The boots on the ground so to speak, LaTonia and Talia, both Pathfinder's from the USO were brand new to the racing scene, and certainly were great sports about the entire four days!
From endless bumpy golf carts rides, long hot days, and being fed through a firehose about sportscar racing, these two were troopers. And they understand, they get it now how motorports is a vehicle for recovery. It's a different path that we can show to those individuals that are still wondering how they fit in. We're all misfits of one kind or another, but in motorsports, we fit it.
For Tiffany Lodder, Executive Director of Operation Motorsport, the events themselves aren’t her favorite part. “It’s the 24-48 hours after the event starts, when you can see the changes in them” said Lodder. It’s Monday morning or Wednesday afternoon. It’s not a one-time thing for me. It’s the relationships and friendships that we’ve built and the futures we’ve helped show them that are there.”
Operation Motorsport is connecting injured soldiers to opportunities within Motorsports, North and South, of the border during the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway and the Chevrolet Silvarado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Operation Motorsport is joining with the USO of North Carolina again this year to bring injured service members to connect with race teams during the Michelin GT Challenge.
Seven service members will be joining the Operations Motorsports team giving them their first chance to engage in motorsport activities to assist in aiding their recovery and rehabilitation.
Operation Motorsport beneficiaries will support 5 different teams, Paul Miller Racing, Park Place Motorsports, LA Honda World Racing, Pf Racing and Kohr Motorsports that are entering the Michelin GT Challenge.
Service members will be working side by side with the members of their assigned teams gaining exposure to a new set of responsibilities, using the skills they have acquired from their years of military training they will provide valuable knowledge and different ideas on how to reach the objective… the checkered flag.
Beneficiary team members will fill a host of team roles and responsibilities that can range from mechanic, fueler, tire changer, photographer, public relations or even work as a wheel torquer. No position is off the table if the beneficiary are up to the challenge.
Operation Motorsports does more than bring these veterans and Soldiers to motorsport events across the globe; they help push them toward a goal. Whether that goal is in motorsports, car enthusiast, engineering, returning to active service, journalism, social media management, or just healing one’s mind and body. They bring a closeness that is gone when you leave the service, leave your battle buddies, leave your structure, leave a daily purpose. They give you that power back, remind you that you have the strength to continue to grow as that strength never went away, it was just hiding
As we recently Celebrated the Birthdays of Our Nations Connecting Injured Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen To Motorsports Opportunities, we also quietly celebrated our second anniversary and let out a very quiet sigh of reflection.
We couldn't do any of this without lots and lots of support.......... the support of the volunteers, donors, teams, sponsors and the beneficiaries that place their trust in the programs. In the last year we have delivered;
Operation Motorsport once again partnered with a number of IMSA race teams at both Watkins Glen International, NY, and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, ON, on the two weekends that bookend the 1st of July Canada & July 4th USA birthday holidays, providing opportunities to 9 medically releasing or released Canadian and US service members.
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, 19 May 2019;
Operation Motorsport has successfully completely it's first Canadian Excite / Engage event for 2019, making a return to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the Victoria Day Speedfest with our Motorsports Operations Partner TWOth Autosport and a number of old and new teams in Blancpain GT World Challenge America.
As Travis Hill, TWOth Princple and driver of the #26 Shopify Audi RS3 LMS,said after the weekend event, " #OneAtATime we’re building a family. It’s such an honour to be working shoulder to shoulder with our military beneficiaries at Operation Motorsport. We’re thrilled to announce that our partnership will extend through the entire 2019 season in the Canadian Touring Car Championship, featuring medically discharged veterans on all 3 of our @audicanada RS3 LMS race cars!"
This also marked a return to a team environment for recently medically released Canadian Army Veteran, Corporal Chuck Blecker. Chuck was serving as an Army Vehicle Technician in Shilo Manitoba when he received a traumatic brain injury. This all happened very quickly for Chuck and his wife Robin, who commented on his return home after the weekend with TWOth, "He has not stopped talking. There’s a spark that I haven’t seen in a long time! He’s sore and exhausted, but excited to be a part of the team! I really just wanted you to know that what you do is not “just racing”. What you do matters. You’ve brought my husband a sense of dignity and purpose, THAT matters.
Hear this loudly: WHAT YOU’RE DOING MATTERS!!"
Operation Motorsport has made it’s return to Blancpain World Challenge America for the first time in 2019 under a newly penned collaborative Cooperation with SRO Motorsports America , at VIRginia International Raceway, with a host of returning beneficiaries and some new teams. What started out one year ago at VIR as a tester into the sportscar racing series, quickly became a regular stop for ill, injured and wounded beneficiaries in 2018.
As we witness a genuine desire by racing teams to participate in the programs and the willingness to welcome and immerse beneficiaries to the limits of their abilities, the main restrictive factors to the programs growth and delivery were exposure and access. Fast forward one year and we are seeing opportunities outpace the screening and intake of new applicants.
And there could be no better venue for this new collaboration than VIRginia International Raceway , one of Car and Driver Magazine’s top six road courses in the nation. America’s first true “motorsport resort”, salutes Active Duty Military Service Members year round by offering free of charge admittance.
Connie Nyholm, VIR Owner & CEO says, "We are honored to welcome Operation Motorsport to participate in events at VIR, most recently the Blancpain World Challenge GT Americas. Through their Excite, Engage, Empower programs, Operation Motorsport works with the beneficiaries' unique physical and emotional needs and challenges to create a clear and individualized recovery path. Operation Motorsports has partnered with other veterans focused groups to leverage positive outcomes and it is truly rewarding to meet the participants and experience firsthand their enthusiasm and engagement.." http://virnow.com/
OPERATION MOTORSPORT and SRO Motorsports America announce a colabrative cooperation to advance the Excite, Engage and Empower recovery programs and expand into Blancpain GT World Challenge America!
Operation Motorsport is working in cooperation with SRO Motorsports America to assist military veterans with their recovery and rehabilitation. During each round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge America beginning April 26-28, 2019 at Virginia International Raceway, Veterans in the Operation Motorsport Immersion Program will be partnered up with various teams to learn new abilities and share the transferable skills they have picked up from their service.
This partnership will give Veterans from the Canadian and United States militaries the chance to work with teams to see how they can use their skills from military service and transfer them to useful skills with the race teams and potential civilian jobs. The first teams taking part in the collaboration and accepting veterans are; Alegra Motorsports, KohR Motorsports, JCW Mini and Wright Motorsports.
“Looking back to how I felt at this time last year, I am so thankful we took that leap and entered into partnerships with teams in World Challenge. I was nervous about entering into a new series, but we have had nothing but warm welcomes, and absolute commitments from the teams we're working with.”, said Tiffany Lodder, Executive Director, Operation Motorsport. “I'm proud of the opportunities we've been able to provide for our injured soldiers and veterans as we work together to share opportunities for them to be able to use their transferable skills and know there is a place for them in the civilian world.”
“It’s been remarkable to see the success the Operation Motorsport program has had with Veterans in our paddock,” said Greg Gill, president and CEO, SRO Motorsports America. “We’re excited to work closer with the team and grow the opportunities within our series this season.”
"The time and opportunity spent with Operation Motorsport and it's Beneficiaries has been quiet eye opening and great for all involved. The personalities, hard work, and team ethic runs strong between both the team and beneficiaries alike. We are thankful and hopeful to be of great help to these outstanding military service men and women, that have endured so much, to spend the time with us to engage and excite them in our motorsports program. We hope it provides them with they need to excel and opens them to a whole new world of opportunity in the motorsports world, to help their personal healing process. All the beneficiaries that we have had to date have been amazing individuals that bring something special and each unique to our team. We hope to keep this partnership with Operation Motorsport going for many years to come, and we hope to keep learning from one another to take the program to a place the beneficiaries see as a helping moment in their lives that they will never forget. Alegra Motorsports is very proud to be a part of this program and will never forget each of the awesome individuals that have come to work with us."
Returning to the Anglesey circuit, the 2018 Race of Remembrance commemorated the sacrifices made by service personnel and their families. This unique endurance race features a Heroes dinner, night racing, and atrack-side service of Remembrance. In true Mission Motorsport style, the weekend is about more than just the racing. The off track action means a great social weekend at the end of the season, while on track there is a unique interruption to an endurance Motorsport event. At 10.45 on Sunday morning, the track will fall silent as the race pauses to hold a service of Remembrance, which this year falls on the 100th anniversary of the Great War armistice.
This is our story...........
As everyone in motorsports knows, every event contains a lot of moving parts; race cars, people, accommodations, meals, transportation, etc. Add into that mix nine wounded soldiers and medically released veterans, all with their own specific physical and mental health needs who haven’t all met each other, a race car that needs to be acquired and then outfitted with a sequential gear box so our wounded veteran can drive it. Bundle that all together, and it’s almost a hot mess. Consider that all nine beneficiaries don’t know each other, the OpMo support personnel are also strangers, throw them all on planes departing from locations all over North America to arrive in London for on the of the greatest endurance races in Britain. Let the adventure begin!
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Operation Motorsport empowers disabled veterans through their post-service lives by welcoming them onto racing teams to drive cars and work on pit crews.