Raleigh, NC November 24 – Operation Motorsport Program Foundation is responding to meet the needs of ill and injured service members and disabled veterans by providing opportunities within motorsports to showcase transferrable skills to aid in their recovery and rehabilitation.
Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement, unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and their world. Giving Tuesday will kick off the generosity season this year by inspiring people to give back on December 1, 2020, and throughout the year.
This year Operation Motorsport has joined the Giving Tuesday movement in order to reach our goal of $20,000 in our “Pit Crew 22” campaign. While fundraising efforts have been difficult and in-person meet ups and auctions put on hold, we have looked to other ways to fundraise and create support for Operation Motorsport. This Giving Tuesday enables us to reach out and engage our supporters, partners, teams, friends, and family and remind us all that we need to support our medically releasing service members and veterans not just on Remembrance Day and Veterans day, but every day of the year. This Giving Tuesday, please give to Operation Motorsport so that we can continue to do the work and provide the programs to all our beneficiaries.
“Our team consistently looks for innovative ways to engage our beneficiaries during these isolating times, they look for ways to reach new beneficiaries all the while understanding that while we ‘bash on’ as they say, we are in need of funds in order to maintain the Mission.” Says Tiffany Lodder, Executive Director “We can not give up now in these hard times, when our beneficiaries need us the most. Join us and be a part of the Pit Crew 22 and make a difference in the lives of our those who sacrificed for us.”
Giving Tuesday was launched in 2012 as a simple idea: to create a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past eight years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.
"Giving Tuesday inspires people all around the world to embrace their power to drive progress around the causes they care about, not just on one day but throughout the year." said Asha Curran, Giving Tuesday’s CEO, and co-founder. "With country and community leaders, millions of organizations, and countless givers of all kinds, Giving Tuesday is creating a shared space where we can see the radical implications of a more generous world."
Those who are interested in joining Operation Motorsport’s Giving Tuesday initiative can visit www.operationmotorsport.org/donate. For more details about the Giving Tuesday movement, visit the Giving Tuesday website (www.givingtuesday.org), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GivingTuesday
Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past eight years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts and everyone has something to give. Giving Tuesday strives to build a world in which the catalytic power of generosity is at the heart of the society we build together, unlocking dignity, opportunity, and equity around the globe. Giving Tuesday is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. Giving Tuesday is organized in partnership with Giving Tuesday, the organization, and a global network of leaders, partners, communities, and generous individuals.
On this 2020 Remembrance Day / Veterans Day we find ourselves in an unfamiliar position: we did not come together as a team of veterans, standing shoulder to shoulder in remembrance and competing in the Race of Remembrance on the other side of the pond.
As a 2020 compromise we hosted a well received and successful iRace of Remembrance on Sunday, November 8th. Even though our pre race was a recorded message instead of live, it contained heartfelt messages and moments where we were able to honor our fallen. All safe in our own homes, we were still able to come together for a common goal.
Lest we Forget.
We will remember them.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Sebring, FL(November 4th, 2020) – On Sunday, November 8th Operation Motorsport will do something that would have been unimaginable one year ago as our small team of beneficiaries and volunteers made their way across the Atlantic to a Welsh island called Anglesey to compete in a 12 hour endurance race at Anglesey circuit. This event, many from Operation Motorsport would argue is the most significant event on the Foundations annual calendar. Not only was the event the birthplace of an idea called Operation Motorsport, but it has also become an annual pilgrimage and rite of passage for many beneficiaries who spend their summer with host race teams in SRO, IMSA and CTCC, crafting new skills and to be able to come together for the Race of Remembrance, as one team, with a common identity and purpose.
This year our story has unfolded a little differently as we near the end of 2020 and the racing season. A season that presented us with new and difficult challenges, where we were eventually able to resume motorsport immersion placements, at a reduced scale due to COVID-19 restrictions within the race paddocks. We were further saddened by the reality that we are not returning to Wales to compete in the Mission Motorsport 12-hour Race of Remembrance.
Throughout this difficult year our beneficiaries have faced an increased mental health risk due to isolation and the devastating effects that can have on transitioning service members and veterans. Our team at OpMo was able to recognize the immediate needs and pivot into the Operation eMotorsport, virtual racing that keep beneficiaries engaged by driving or watching and chatting. Through these weekly virtual races and zoom Happy Hours, we were able to keep in touch, share some laughs, and be there for our beneficiaries.
So as with any good military operation, we have a Plan B. If we cannot come together in one place to remember, honor the sacrifices and race, let’s come together in one virtual space. Out of opportunity and necessity the concept of hosting a virtual version of the Race of Remembrance was born. This race will begin with a very unique feature, a 15 minute prerace ceremony, where we start with a virtual pre-race remembrance / veterans service, honoring those who have served and those who have sacrificed their lives for their country.
This virtual endeavor to keep our beneficiaries actively engaged is being once again supported by our long-time eMotorsport program entitlement sponsor RECARO who providing the financial support to cover the participation costs to Operation Motorsport beneficiary memberships and associated League expenses. In the past year RECARO has provided all of Operation Motorsport’s racing seat requirements, including the 2019 12 hr Race of Remembrance entry at Anglesey Circuit, Wales, UK and the TWOth Autosport Driver Development Mazda Miatas.
The six-hour virtual race will be hosted from virtual Sebring International Raceway. There are currently 21 team entries within two classes of competition, Pro-Am and open class. The Pro-Am class entries have a maximum one Pro driver paired with one or two Operation Motorsport beneficiaries. The teams can choose between a Porsche Cayman GT4 or BMW M4 GT4. On race day they will have a one hour open practice session followed by qualifying and our focal prerace Remembrance service and celebration.
We will once again be joined by the PitStop TV broadcast crew for the entire 6-hour live broadcast, including the pre-race ceremony and live interviews throughout the broadcast with beneficiaries, partners, supporters and couple of surprize guests.
At 10:55 am EST we will open with a co-founders welcoming statement followed by Leonard Cohen reading in Flanders Fields, followed by a Grier Martin reading, a playing of Last Post, a minute of silence, playing of reveille, laying of wreaths and personal messages, and then we go iRacing.
“We are in the middle of a very challenging period that has made delivering in person recovery program opportunities for medically transitioning service members and disabled veterans through motorsports nearly impossible, early on we felt that we would have to reimagine the delivery of our programs,” co- founder and CEO Diezel Lodder said. “It’s exciting now, having this new virtual Diversionary Therapy tool that allows us to connect with beneficiaries in real time and not jeopardize their health and safety. And to be able to continue in the tradition of a Race of Remembrance, albeit virtually, is exciting and it’s a true testament to our Foundation’s ability to pivot and remain relevant to the mission.”
Join us live on Sunday, November 8 at 10:50 am EST on the Operation Motorsport YouTube channel where we will come together to focus on this unique virtual celebration of Remembrance and carry on with the traditions and purpose behind a race of remembrance; honoring service and paying tribute to the fallen.
About Operation Motorsport - Operation Motorsport is a veteran-led 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Foundation based in Raleigh, NC & Brighton, ON and was founded on the basis of three simple words – Excite, Engage and Empower. Its mission is to engage, through motorsport activities, ill & injured service members and disabled veterans, affected by military service, leading to aiding in their recovery and rehabilitation. Visit: http://operationmotorsport.org/
About RECARO Automotive – Recaro Automotive has three locations in Europe, the USA and Japan. We design, manufacture, and market complete seats representative of our core competencies of design, ergonomics, robustness, lightweight construction, and first-class workmanship, under the brand name Recaro. Recaro Automotive Seating offers passenger car seats for OEMs and the aftermarket, using the brand Recaro under a license of the Recaro Holding. For more information, please visit: https://www.recaro-automotive.com/us/
ABOUT SEBRING INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY- Sebring International Raceway originated from a WWII B-17 training base known as Hendricks Field. It has been the home of the legendary 12-hour endurance race since 1952. The 3.74-mile circuit is considered the world’s toughest road course, visit http://www.sebringraceway.com
Join us live on Sunday, November 8 at 10:50 am EST on the Operation Motorsport YouTube channel where we will come together to focus on this unique virtual celebration of Remembrance and carry on with the traditions and purpose behind a race of remembrance; honoring service and paying tribute to the fallen.
Raleigh, NC (Oct 19, 2020) - Operation Motorsport focuses on those military veterans who do not get a chance to complete their service -due to service-related illnesses injuries or wounds. These servicemen and women, sometimes quite suddenly, have their career plans and aspirations taken away. They are removed from their team, no longer fulfill their purpose within the service, and ultimately lose that cherished identity.
Motorsport Immersion, when used as a diversionary therapy, has the ability to provide transitioning service members with a renewed sense of team, identity, and purpose. Through mutually beneficial partnerships in the motorsports industry with organizations like SRO Motorsports America, and teams like CrowdStrike Racing, DXDT Racing and Boehm Racing we bridge the separation and provide a new sense of identity.
Beneficiaries find Operation Motorsport through veterans’ advocacy agencies like the USO and the Air Force Wounded Warrior program, Soldier Recovery Units, through fellow veterans, or by chance through social media.
2020 began with a great sense of optimism for Operation Motorsport, a shared desire to grow the relationship with SRO and expand team partnership with CrowdStrike Racing. With plans, agreements and handshakes in place, beneficiary recruiting for season-long team placements were made. Fast forward to February for the season launch at Circuit of The America’s, Army Staff Sgt. Chad Failing (Ret.) joined CrowdStrike Racing’s Kevin Boehm / Boehm Racing Honda TCA entry. Chad was joined by OpMo staff who were there to support Chad and the team and assess new team partnerships for the growing list of beneficiaries in waiting.
After winning four SCCA National Championships, Boehm Racing was ready to make the jump from club to pro racing, debuting in SRO America for the 2020 season. Boehm Racing consisted of driver/engineer Kevin Boehm, his business partner and wife, Sharon, and a turn-key Honda Racing/HPD Civic Si race car. On race weekends, Kevin’s father, Herbert, also volunteered his time to help with the prep and maintenance of the race car.
The Honda Civic SI based team was partnered with AWS/CrowdStrike Racing and received logistical support from DXDT Racing--a major help, since both Kevin and Sharon work full-time jobs and only have a limited amount of vacation time to use for racing events.
Between and during races, Kevin handled the care, maintenance, and set-up of the car, as well as data analysis and planning. During the events, Kevin and his father worked on the car. In club racing, it was feasible for Kevin to be the driver, engineer, and lead mechanic on his race car. However, the team quickly learned that in pro racing, Kevin’s role was unusual. On most pro racing teams, the driver, engineer, and lead mechanic were separate people--which posed a problem, since all were often expected to be at different places at the same time during the SRO events! With this need in mind, Operation Motorsport stepped in to provide dedicated mechanical and logistical support to Boehm Racing at the majority of the 2020 races, freeing Kevin up to better handle the conflicting demands on his time.
And then COVID happened, and along with the rest of the world, our sunny outlook was replaced with a black cloud. We paused, reflected, and quickly realized the greatest risk likely facing our beneficiaries was their mental health. In many cases they were isolated, and what was important was continuing to engage them even if only virtually, and so an iRacing League and Friday afternoon Zoom Happy Hours were born.
Once live racing resumed, Operation Motorsport faced new challenges in activating beneficiaries. These challenges were not expected and required extra planning and creativity. DOD staff had strict travel restrictions which prevented transitioning service members from becoming beneficiaries. Racing series implemented strict guidelines on team size, individual movement within the paddock and screening processes,
eliminating the possibility of having an OpMo Event Coordinator on site. This is where the new team partner relationship with Boehm Racing came into play. Due to the pandemic restrictions, Boehm Racing was permitted only six team members at the race team, but since the team only needed three spots, the three extra positions were quickly made available to Operation Motorsport. Out of adversary, a creative solution was born to provide motorsports immersion opportunities for our beneficiaries during an otherwise difficult time.
The Foundation provided SSG (Retired) Chad Failing and SSG (Retired) William Babineau, both former U.S. Army Soldiers who joined Operation Motorsport while medically releasing from the military. Working as beneficiaries together and separately in multiple races, they assisted Boehm Racing with paddock set-up/tear down, wheel and tire prep, general car maintenance/prep, pit lane support, and anything else the team needed throughout the season. Working together, Boehm Racing provided Chad and Will with Purpose, Identity, and a Team bond that will last for years. In return, these two beneficiaries demonstrated their value and ability to take skills learned in the military and apply them in the motorsports world.
Operation Motorsport Board Member and Event Coordinator, Lynn Friedman, witnessed this partnership firsthand across multiple races and said “While Operation Motorsport provided the opportunity for Will and Chad to engage in the motorsport community, it gave the motorsport community many with non-military backgrounds an opportunity to engage with our veterans firsthand, and understand many of the challenges they face. It was a win-win year for all of us”.
After a challenging start to the season, Kevin achieved multiple podium finishes in the latter half of the year, culminating with winning the 2020 TCA Championship, the TCA Rookie of the Year Award, and the TCA Team Championship. Boehm Racing openly stated that much of the team’s success was directly and indirectly attributed to the support Operation Motorsport provided.
“We are proud to partner with the Operation Motorsport program,” Boehm said. “I would be hard-pressed to find a group that is more worthy of our support. They have given so much for us, and we salute their sacrifice as we do what we can for them. It’s been a joy to work first-hand with Operation Motorsport and its group of service members, each of whom has been a tremendous help on our CrowdStrike Racing/AWS Civic Si this year.”
Bob Page, President of the Page Group; Representing CrowdStrike and AWS: Official Sponsors of SRO World GT said, “At CrowdStrike Racing, CrowdStrike and AWS we see the value of our returning veterans, and find many veterans employed in within our companies on both the staff and executive levels of the organizations. Our support for Veteran’s causes runs deep, individually by staff, and exec’s, as well as within the corporate structure of these amazing companies. We actively support the tremendous benefits that Operation Motorsports brings to our organization and will remain active supporters of this cause for years to come. For 2021, depending on Covid Protocol’s, and related, we hope to expand our support for Operation Motorsports throughout the paddock, and more. We thank Operation Motorsports contributions to our team in 2019, and 2020, and look forward to their support for years to come. Every team in the paddock should be working with this amazing organization, and give these returning vets an opportunity to show vets significant abilities to contribute to a TEAM, and the contributions they can make with a little guidance and growth.”
Thank you to SRO Motorsports America, CrowdStrike, AWS, CrowdStrike Racing, DXDT Racing, Boehm Racing, the series staff, the crews, drivers, support staff and personalities, from all of us at Operation Motorsport. We couldn’t make this happen without each and every one of you.
With more than 25 years’ experience at the forefront of a continuously evolving industry, SRO Motorsports Group is the established international leader in GT racing.
Best known for the development and implementation of the GT3 and GT4 regulations, SRO promotes and organises championships that embrace professional and amateur competitors. Its portfolio of highly regarded series includes continental GT World Challenge powered by AWS categories in Europe, America and Asia, which are combined to determine a global manufacturers' champion, while the flagship Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli features events on five different continents.
The 2020 season will see more than 100 races run under the SRO Motorsports Group banner, highlighted by the prestigious Total 24 Hours of Spa. In addition to promotion and organisation, the company operates SRO Race Centre by MMC – a race-car service center at Circuit Paul Ricard – and provides the ultimate driving opportunities at world- renowned venues through Curbstone Track Events. SRO Motorsports Group is chaired by company founder and CEO Stephane Ratel. With offices in London, Paris, Liège, United States and Hong Kong, its work is facilitated by a dedicated global team of full-time and freelance staff. Combining a passion for performance with industry-leading expertise, SRO continues to play a key role in shaping the future of international GT racing.
CrowdStrike is upping its commitment to military veterans with plans for long-term support of Operation Motorsport – a key program within racing that aids service members as they transition into the civilian workplace.
A pair of military veterans – Staff Sgt. Chad Failing (Ret.) and Staff Sgt. William Babineau (Ret.) – will be part of the CrowdStrike Racing crew on Kevin Boehm’s No. 9 CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT Honda Performance Development (HPD) Civic Si effort for the remaining 2020 rounds of the Touring Car America (TCA) class, a companion series to GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS in SRO Motorsports America.
CrowdStrike is the Official Internet and Cloud Security provider for GT World Challenge and has helped organize the placement of veterans in its racing programs during the last three years.
Operation Motorsport is one of many veteran programs that CrowdStrike supports corporately. It is active in many avenues of placing veterans in employment opportunities with the aim of helping service members integrate into private workplaces.
Read the whole story and see more pics here
It is not often these days that anyone is sharing milestones, firsts, or setting a new benchmark, but we at Operation Motorsport have three to share from the last week.
1. On Tuesday evening the vision of adding a virtual iRacing League to our Excite Diversionary Therapy Program became a reality and an instant hit. Supported by RECARO Automotive the idea is to provide an outlet to beneficiaries, a place to include volunteers and supporters, and provide an informative and entertaining platform that allows us to showcase our programs and opportunities to potential beneficiaries and supports.
19 competitors, in 3 classes, took the green flag at VIR, with Pit Stop TV providing the commentary for the 60 minute sprint race that saw Daniel Morad go wheel to wheel, trading paint with active Air Force Major Chris Walsh for much of the 60 minute sprint race. (results and more below)
2. From the very first partnership discussions in 2017 with Travis and Trevor Hill, team principles at TWOth Auto sport, the vision has always been to mentor, teach, coach, and develop those beneficiaries with the right skill sets, through the Engage Program, into an autonomous crew for a professional TWOth race entry.
This past weekend at Shannonville Motorsports Park in Ontario Canada, that vision finally took shape. OpMo beneficiaries filled all essential roles on the TWOth Autosport supported Tomlinson Racing Audi TCR entry into rounds 3 & 4 of the CTCC Championship, including Race Engineer, crew, hospitality, photo, and coordinator....... and the bonus was a podium finish for driver Ron Tomlinson.
3. In early 2020 Team Hardpoint Team Principle US Marine Corps veteran Rob Ferriol connected with OpMo. Team Hardpoint could be the right fit as a team partner for beneficiaries in the Motorsports Immersion Program and the plan was to use the 12 hours of Sebring as the entry point....... and then COVID-19 happened....... fast forward 6 months and that opportunity has come back around this weekend at VIR. Although there are new challenges, that long awaited next step is happening with OpMo Beneficiary Trustee CW3 (retd) DeWayne Crawford (Crawdaddy). Things are starting to look up in 2020, let's keep the good vibes going.
– Operation Motorsport partner and supporter RECARO Automotive is extending its relationship with the Foundation to it’s eMotorsports Diversionary Therapy Program by being named the entitlement sponsor of its officially sanctioned iRacing League, kicking off an 8 race series on Aug 18th.
In the past year RECARO Automotive has provided all of Operation Motorsport’s racing seat requirements, including the 2019 12 hr Race of Remembrance entry at Anglesey Circuit, Wales, UK and the TWOth Autosport Driver Development Mazda Miatas.
“It has been a great honor to support Operation Motorsport,” said Jim Koelzer, Vice President of North America at RECARO Automotive. “RECARO Automotive supports our brave men and women in service and we want to be a part of a partnership that helps to create that team environment that can lead to their recovery.”
RECARO Automotive is providing the League financial support to cover the participation costs to Operation Motorsport beneficiary iRacing memberships and associated League expenses. RECARO will also be donating various event prizes and a TBA championship prize to the Beneficiary Champion on Oct 27th.
“We are in the middle of a very challenging year that has made delivering in person recovery program opportunities for ill, injured & wounded service members and disabled veterans through motorsports nearly impossible, early on we felt that we would have to re-imagine the delivery of our programs,” founder and CEO Diezel Lodder said. “It’s exciting now, having this new virtual Diversionary Therapy tool that allows us to connect with beneficiaries in real time and not jeopardize their health and safety. RECARO Automotive has really stepped up in their commitment to continue to support our brave men and women.”
Live race broadcasts will return to the Operation Motorsport YouTube channel with the addition of Pit Stop TV to the broadcasting line up. Pit Stop TV will provide a turnkey broadcast solution that will add a professional live race feel, marketing options for partners and on-air interviews.
The eMotorsport League’s first series will see 8 races on select Tuesday evenings. The race locations / tracks will align with SRO and IMSA events happening the following weekend. This will allow participating promoters to give back to the veteran community and promote their race event through the active service and veteran channels. The first race will take place virtually from VIRginia International Raceway.
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.
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!
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 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.”
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/
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.