On 1st March 2012 we launched Mission Motorsport with the intention of aiding in the recovery and rehabilitation of those affected by military operations by providing opportunities through Motorsport. We pledged to work with 60 ‘blokes’ over our first year but such has been the interest and support we have worked with double that number in our first 10 months.
Driving and vehicle related trades are the most common specialisation in the Armed Forces, and we’ve struck a chord with many in recovery who see the value in a sport where there is no Paralympic separate category. Our guys and girls have been on winners’ podiums on track, on the water and on rally stages but it is the smiles, the teamwork and the camaraderie that matter. On the way, by finding ways to ‘turn bloke’s lights back on’ we have delivered training, found placements, and found new futures for servicemen who are now embarking on second careers, and new lives.
We have run Powerboat experience days on the water engaging over 30 people and successfully ran a powerboat race team in this year’s P1 Superstock championship, the highlight of the season being a podium finish at the Cowes – Poole – Cowes offshore race. With our friends at The Bike Experience, we have had a number of guys out on motorbikes proving that even a double amputee can ride a motorbike… Gav Harvey’s bravery captured for posterity by Motors TV. He went on to lap the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, at considerable speed.
We were given the opportunity to provide a support crew for Derek Bell MBE, entering the Le Mans Classic in a wonderful 1929 Bentley Blower. What an amazing experience, the car raced well; despite everyone’s best efforts it unfortunately did not finish the weekend but both Derek and Martin, the owner, were very impressed with the support the lads provided. Derek then came along to Thruxton to provide driver training for our racers and we are delighted that he has joined Sir Stirling Moss OBE as a Mission Motorsport Patron.
We’ve spent a lot of time on track both in the UK and in Europe, with teams of our guys entered in a number of endurance races including the epic Britcar 24hr race in a Nissan 370Z. In just six weeks we managed to get three drivers through their ARDS, gain their national A licences and have enough track experience to enter the race. Two of the drivers had never driven on track before April this year, including an amputee. Running in the top 10, a car parked in our path looked likely to finish our race but our amazing mechanics and support crew rebuilt our car, achieving what looked impossible. In under two hours we were back out racing, fighting our way back up the field to an emotional finish.
We are proud to be the providers of disabled and adaptive motorsport to Defence, and are proud to be formally supported by Help for Heroes. We see first hand the difference that the Defence Recovery Capability is making, and are working very hard as a small part of the huge effort that focuses on the well being and future of our fallen.
Last, but certainly not least, we have put in place vocational placements for servicemen and women leaving the forces. Motorsport is just the excuse here, often the catalyst for interest that we see in individuals and then we work hard to make that dream become a reality for them. We’ve placed and are placing guys and girls in media, in PR, and in mechanical, logistic, H&S, sales and management roles in companies that range from cottage industry to multinationals like Nissan, Ferrari and Bentley. We’ve helped find training, higher education funding, mentors and openings that have led directly to employment.
We are immensely proud of the work we have done over the last ten months; we have shown that Mission Motorsport works on all levels – experience, competition and vocational. There is certainly a keen and engaged audience, eager to replicate the success that we’ve seen in 2012. Our vocational work goes from strength to strength as we formally become the ‘Relationship Manager’ to the British Motor Industry for the new Recovery Career Services. Thank you all so much for the support that we have received, and we look forward to what 2013 may bring.