Mission Motorsport’s beneficiaries take centre stage at Autosport International
Forces’ charity trains Billy Monger to drive again for stunt show with Terry Grant, and supports Invictus Games Racing launch
Forces’ charity Mission Motorsport beneficiaries, including teen racing driver and double amputee Billy Monger, will take centre stage at Autosport International, which will see more than 80 wounded, injured and sick (WIS) service men and women experiencing the event across the four days.
While Billy takes centre stage at the Live Action Arena along with stuntman Terry Grant and Mission Motorsport drivers and crew, four more of the charity’s beneficiaries will be named as drivers of the new Invictus Games Racing (IGR) team to compete in 2018-19 British GT Championships. At the Invictus Games Foundation’s request, The Forces’ Motorsport charity established the ‘Mission Motorsport Academy’ which ran the selection event for 60 WIS Invictus hopefuls, and trained and campaigned the drivers to enable them to progress from beginners to experienced racers holding the required International C race licence for British GT. The charity’s beneficiaries working at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) are also part of the build team at Special Vehicle Operations for the F-TYPE SVR’s build to GT4 specification.
Autosport International will also be showcasing Mission Motorsport’s livery skills on the Motor 1 supercar stand. The ‘Poppy Car’, a Jaguar F-Type was designing and individually wrapped by ex-servicemen Lance Corporal Chris Read, Guardsman Chris Walker, Private Dan Elliot and Lance Corporal Francis Stokes. Launched ahead of Remembrance Day 2017, the special commemorative wrap was made from a new 3M polar reflective vinyl material. The design incorporates the words from John McCrae’s Poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ (written in May 1915), which shine through the poppy design when the panels are lit up. The car has supported Recovery and Remembrance events, including a tour of the Somme battlefields and the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Cambrai.
In the past five years, Mission Motorsport has helped Billy Monger and hundreds of injured servicemen and women to race in specially adapted vehicles and first started stunt training with Terry Grant in 2012. Lionel O’Connor was one of the first students who, despite a high left leg amputation, showed exceptional ability and was mentored by Terry to go on to become Mission Motorsport’s lead car control instructor. As part of the stunt show with Terry Grant, Lionel will lead four Mission Motorsport beneficiaries driving in the two ‘Tron’ liveried Mission Motorsport F-Types. Lionel and his team have been working with Billy Monger for the last four months to help him drive again in adapted vehicles, and to gain the confidence to drive with precision to the limits of the vehicle and beyond.
Mission Motorsport has also been nominated for a ‘Services to the Industry’ award at the Motorsport Industry Association Awards dinner and MM beneficiary Alex Fogg, now at Jaguar Racing Formula E team has nominated for a 2018 Royal Foundation Endeavour Fund award.
James Cameron, CEO at Mission Motorsport, said: “Autosport International is always a very special event for us but this year is exceptional in terms of the success and major contribution from so many of our beneficiaries. Many of the guys and girls we work with stay with us to help others who have been impacted during service. Lionel O’Connor is a perfect example of this. He came to Mission Motorsport as a beneficiary and it was clear from an early juncture that he was very talented behind the wheel. His real forte, however, is as an exceptional trainer and a coach, teaching skills to over 320 other WIS over the course of the last five years. Lionel and his wife Layla are an incredibly effective team, organising car control training sessions that are open and inclusive, welcoming beneficiaries from all backgrounds and enveloping them in a friendly, family environment.
“It is thanks to people like Lionel that we have been so successful as a charity and this event provides us with a great opportunity to celebrate their success. In five years of operations, Mission Motorsport has delivered more than 4,000 training days of sport for 1400 beneficiaries, leading to over 230 placements and over 100 jobs. Numbers that we’re rightly proud of and we look forward to achieving even more in years to come.”
Despite its name, the racing element of Mission Motorsport represents a very small percentage of the charity’s work. Supported by some of the largest automotive manufacturers, military charities and many other key sponsors, the team co-ordinates and provides motorsport as a recovery activity for military personnel. Once engaged the real work begins, the charity is a certified provider of training and helps its beneficiaries gain the qualifications they need to return to work. The team then acts as Relationship Managers to the automotive industry, securing vocational opportunities for the wounded, injured and sick, supporting the charity’s mission to: ‘Race, Retrain, Recover’.
Find a selection of Mission Motorsport Academy images here