Greetings!
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 a track-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...........

Future, passion, vision.
In the absence of the past,
the direction is forward .
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!


With anticipation high and nerves a little strung out, creating a schedule of activities that will help to break the ice, develop bonds and build teamwork can be a challenge, but essential to developing a sense of security amongst the team. Being able to feel safe with people is the single most important factor of mental health. Physical injury is evident, mental health is an invisible illness, and fragility is not something easily seen. Emotions are high as we sit that night at our first team dinner and do a round table introductions of the group. What started as a “who, what, and where” turned into everyone sharing their personal who they are, and “why’s”. Our first day and barriers are coming down while bonds are being formed.
Mission Motorsport HQ
&
Porsche Experience Centre Silverstone
Soldiers do what they do out of a love for all things shiny, exhilarating, and sometimes a wee bit dangerous, otherwise they would have normal jobs. To set the tone for the week, we stopped at Mission Motorsport (MM) HQ and had a tour of the facilities, met some of the team, and were able to understand a bit better what MM does on their side of the pond. As we head into a major race weekend where eight of the beneficiaries aren’t driving, we travel to the Porsche Experience Center at Silverstone Circuit, UK where they’re all given the opportunity to drive a Porsche 911S and a Boxster 718 with instructors for the afternoon. It made for an extremely long day, but they couldn’t be dragged away any earlier, and all week references were made to that afternoon. Sgt. Renee Wilson, medically retired (USA) has returned for more adventures with OpMo and her task this week, capture the journey of her team mates, record them as they grow, make mistakes, are hurt, lean on one another, and realize they are not alone in their recovery journey’s. Renee is good at this, she’ still on her own journey, and can recognize the strength it takes to get up, show up, and be present. She will be mentored in her learnings this week by Jake Glastad, professional motorsports photographer. Jake is in for a treat, he has no prior military experience, and has volunteered his time and himself to capture our week and to mentor Renee. 
Renee Wilson.... her thoughts
Before the event Renee was asked how her experience with Operation Motorsport affected her? “…the impact of OpMo cannot be expressed properly in words. I was a shut-in before my first time at the Pirelli World Challenge. I was starting back into drinking and binge eating to soothe my depression. I didn't want to come out but Tiffany wouldn't give up on me and kept in touch. She talked to me about her goals for weight loss which opened me up to my goals and got me back on the path with my medications and no drinking and more exercise. I started seeking other programs to help me as well.”
When you travel to a foreign place you need to see the countryside and sights, and partake in the culture. Enter rendezvous to Caernarfon Castle, South Stack Lighthouse and cliffs, World’s Fastest Zip line and a little competition in karting to keep things real. Throw in team dinners every night, and some serious home cooked meals by our own Chef, Sgt. Karen Nightingale who travelled with us from C.F.B. Trenton Ontario, and we were set, every day felt a little more like family.
Load in day
Load in day (Thursday) arrives and still no car, although we knew that Ben Devlin and his team were working like mad dogs to install that gear box, and prep the car. We all knew the drop dead timeline was Friday for night qualifying at 18:00. If the car didn’t make it by then, we were out of the race. Literally. Garage needed to be set up, as did the transporter team area, and it was the OpMo teams first opportunity to work alongside the MM team. It was windy, cold, rainy…it was Wales. And that was not the first time we were reminded of where we were, it was a constant throughout the weekend. Rain, wind, more rain, stronger wind…Wales!
That evening was set aside for strategizing, and contingency plans of the Mazda, the drivers, their needs, the crew responsibilities, and timings for the weekend. Crew Chief M/Cpl Chris Anderson, medically retired 2Lt Theo Bruulsema, Nadine Saville and Liam Dwyer sit long hours into the night developing plans. The rest of the crew heads to bed, or does homework, never a dull moment as they all work very hard to make their futures better.
Friday dawns, wheels up at 7am, and as we are eating breakfast in the Marquee, like a miracle, a trailer hauling a Mazda MX5 slowly drives past the team. Cheers erupt, chairs noisily pushed back, and the crew rushes out to find the car as it’s parking in the paddock. That was a true injection of morale into a team that was quietly worrying about the mechanism of their weekend. SSGT Kristen Bell (USA) was extremely excited to be able to put her new talents to work, it was palpable! She had so much to gain being a part of the crew team, with the opportunity to show all that she had learned with the KohR Mustang team in the Continental Series she’d worked with this fall, the team had a hard time keeping her enthusiasm under control.
Kristen Bell...... in her words
Kristen said, “It was so good to feel like a member for a team again. When you’re “hurt”, you’re unintentionally pushed aside to heal. It really starts to make you feel down. The one thing I did get to take away was new friends and great memories. For me, that’s enough….. I loved how we were asked what we were interested in. That helped place us with the various teams. I wanted to get my hands dirty while others wanted to work with hospitality. We were placed right where we wanted to be. I think that helped with the experience as well. It opened the possibility up for me to explore a trade I have always been interested in. Who knows, maybe I can get a part time job working for a team as a backup mechanic… or driver (just kidding!!!)”
Cpl. Dale Newbury, medically retired (CDN) and Sgt.Major Wayne Davidson (USA) are assigned to separate cars, Dale on the infamous CRV, and Wayne on the C1. The MM garage holds four race cars equipped with crew solely run by beneficiaries, supported by MM volunteers, and staff. What a victory, just the empowerment of allowing these guys and girls to work alongside each other, make mistakes, learn together, accomplish so much in such little time. With CWO3 DeWayne Crawford, medically retired (USA) acting as Team Manager, the OpMo team was in good hands.
Dale Newbury........ in his words.
Dale shared his thoughts before the event, “The biggest challenge I had when leaving the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)….I struggled with an identity crisis which led to a major depression. For almost 20 years I was a part of a team with a very definite end goal, and I knew my role in that team, from the two man fireteam, to the company, to the unit, and the entire CAF. I was now facing being alone and not having any real direction in life, no more team or teammates.....and no other reason to be, other than trying to get healthy again. When there is no uniform anymore, every soldier struggles, some more than others, with how they will "fit" in. OpMo helps with exposure therapy ... the noise of the track. Also with the isolation issues many returning veterans deal with. You are meeting new people. There is team work as in the military. It teaches you to do the best you can in a new situation.”
Turns out it was a day filled with ideas, thoughts, suggestions, mistakes, frustrations and moments of little victories. The car was here, but it needed much love to make it go around the track successfully. Enter the engineer and crew chief alongside some great advisers from both OpMo and MM. While we all took a break to celebrate the Heroes Dinner alongside 350 other racers and beneficiaries, the Mazda team was chomping at the bit to get back to the garage. Chris, Theo, Dave from MM, and a few others stayed well into the wee hours prepping and adjusting as this particular car had never raced before.

In Master Corporal Chris Anderson’s own words after the VIR 24-hour race in August, “My first 24-hour race – and I really felt that I was integral to the team. As the day turned to night, I knew that if I didn’t do my part and shoulder the load the team would falter. You don’t tire when you are part of a team. I was surprised at how naturally we all found our places within the professional teams. As some of the pros were ex-military, we had a common language. We really bonded and I got to do a whole season’s worth of pit stops in one weekend.”
Saturday. Race day. Another early morning after another late night. Competition is there, the need to achieve their goal is evident, and the team has worked hard strategizing with all the drivers and crew. Even though some of the OpMo team are assigned to different cars, they all come together and talk once back at the house. Listening to ideas, sharing stories and talking smack about each other and their new friends.

Wayne Davidson’s moto is live every day like it’s your last day. Wayne has been involved with Operation Motorsports since June of 2018. “They have let me experience that there is life after the Army and continue to push past your injury and live every day.”
While the rest of the team got to enjoy Super Car Saturday and take rides around Anglesey Circuit in some serious sexy fast cars, the Mazda team had an emergency. The driveshaft broke while out on morning practice. Tensions were high, the garage was a buzz of activity, and those not needed stayed out.

As pre-race time approached, in walked Theo, dressed to partake in the Biathlon of Foolishness, which now starts the pre-race activities. When questioned about the Mazda, Theo happily replies, it’s all fixed, and they have a strategy to save the wear and tear on the clutch. Before the event Theo said, "When you get medically released, it feels like your goals and aspirations are taken away from you. To have a new goal to work towards, even if it's just for a weekend, can be very inspiring and help keep you moving forward". Alright Theo and team, off you go into the cold Irish Sea as part of your pre race, and congrats on the car!
The car did well, the crew, even better. Timings were bang on, strategies well planned, pit stops well managed, and everyone was working together. All cars seemingly out there as daylight turned into night with no issues. Dale on the CRV enjoying the camaraderie with his new buddies from MM. Wayne enjoying the fact that he felt part of a team and was needed again. DeWayne herding all the crew members from the house to the circuit and back every day, giving us briefings and timings like the Chief he still is inside. But it wasn’t meant to be. The car broke again, with Liam at the wheel. Knowing they couldn’t fix it this time as there was no spare part, the crew started to pack up the car. And then Dale jumped in to help, and so did Wayne. They weren’t needed on their respective cars, so they stepped in to help. Like a team.
DeWayne Crawford..... in his own words
CW3 (RTD) DeWayne Crawford says, “I think Operation Motorsport’s mission statement is perfect. As a leader in the military you are always taught to think about others not yourself, to help your brother and sisters through whatever they are going through. But once you are injured that sense of leadership and belonging is taken from you and you are now told that the focus now is about you! This is hard when you are so used to being part of a team/family. I felt this once I got assigned to the WTB and knowing that my military career will soon be over, all the things that I took so much pride in for the last 20 years were being ripped from me over night. But, through Operation Motorsport, not only can I be a leader again and part of a team/family, I can also help others with a passion for a sense of belonging ... which is what Operation Motorsports all about!!”, and the event and emotions settled DeWaye shared, “Since this is my second RoR, it was like a family reunion. Able to see my race family that I haven't seen in a year but stayed in touch with through social media. RoR just shows that we may be 1000's of miles away but we still care so much about each other and we look forward to seeing each other because that bond we shared is just that strong.”
After pack up, and re-assignments to the CRV and C1 for tomorrows race, the OpMo team heads for home. It was a long week, and even though one part of the team was out of the race, they all stuck together. Tomorrow would be another day, and an emotional one, as it was the Remembrance Day service at 10:45, the race is red flagged, all cars come in, the teams all line up, and honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, and those that are still here.
Remembrance Day
Sunday brings for new feelings, and the OpMo team is sticking together quite tightly this am. Could be the disappointment felt about the Mazda, and sympathy from the other team members for those on that car. Or, it was trepidation about the service? We all knew today was going to be difficult. Some of them hadn’t been to a service since their medical release, others not in many years because of their mental health, and some their first service since injury. We’d had long talks among ourselves all week, preparing for this morning, as we stood arm in arm, and side by side with our brothers and sisters from Mission Motorsport, you could see the the natural unfolding of the bonds that are created through brotherhood, and understanding. For those that are reminded daily of their past, this event brings it to the surface, but it’s ok. They are safe here, they are surrounded by those who have the same struggles, the same demons, and they can lean into each other for comfort and recognition that it’s ok, and that they aren’t alone.
Liam Dwyer........ his words.
Before the race weekend Liam Dwyer shared his thoughts, “I’m very excited to join Operation Motorsport for the Race of Remembrance. I’m excited to see wounded/ill/injured service members from all over the world, using motorsports as a way to reengage and learn a trade, all while working in the team atmosphere we had while in service. I have to say thank you to Operation Motorsport for asking me to join them, Mazda UK/Europe/USA for providing a Global MX5 Cup Car. I can’t wait to get on track with all my fellow service members.” After the race Liam’s thoughts were more precise, “The RoR is the only race I have participated in where the final result didn't matter”
Tough. Emotional. The pictures Renee and Jake Galstad, our Pro photographer took all week captured the essence of the weekend, and in particular those moments between 11:00 am and 11:30 am on November 11 th at the 100 th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice.

For Jake, as a photographer tasked with capturing the human spirit and emotions, his thoughts are very personal, “For me, I gained friendships, and love. It taught me lessons in understanding and compassion. I’m already a compassionate person, but the trip for me was therapeutic.”
The Last Word
At the close of the race weekend, the team all felt like they had won. They had in fact done that before they even set foot at the track. You see, just getting on that plane and coming across the ocean to be with a bunch of people they hardly knew, to an event they only heard people talk about was a win. Everything else they did and experienced was a bonus. It was a step in the right direction on their own personal recovery paths.
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ABOUT OPERATION MOTORSPORT:
Operation Motorsport is a Canadian Veteran operated Not for Profit, based in Brighton, Ontario and was founded on the basis of three simple words; Excite / Engage / Empower. The premise is to engage, through Motorsport activities, ill & injured Service Members & disabled Veterans, affected by military service, leading to aiding in their recovery & rehabilitation. For more information @OpsMotorsport
and to donate, visit http://operationmotorsport.org/

ABOUT MISSION MOTORSPORT:
“The Aim of Mission Motorsport is to aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of those affected by military operations, by providing opportunities through Motorsport.” “Through participation in competition, our strong team ethos helps to inspire and rebuild confidence; while the development of skills including mechanical competencies, logistics, and management all build capacity for a brighter future.” , visit http://www.missionmotorsport.org/

ABOUT THE USO OF NORTH CAROLINA:
The USO of North Carolina strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. Founded in 1941, the USO of NC is a nonprofit, charitable organization, relying on the generosity of North Carolinians to support its programs and services. The USO of NC serves the fourth largest military population in the U.S., touching nearly 600,000 lives annually, helping our service members and their families through education, wellness, transition assistance and resiliency programs across the state. Combined Federal Campaign donors have joined thousands of individual donors, our travel partner American Airlines, 4-star Patriot Circle members Bank of America, Cannon Foundation, Community Coffee, Harris Teeter, Lenovo, Marine Federal Credit Union, USAA, Walmart and other corporate partners to support the USO of NC and our service members. For more information visit www.uso-nc.org and to donate, visit https://uso-nc.org/donate-now/ .