The Veterans Racing Alliance is formed to field off-road cars for veterans
While veterans affairs may not be America’s forte despite the wave of patriotism sweeping through sporting events, the Veteran Racing Alliance aims to give them the opportunity to break into the world of off-road motorsport. The VRA is a new non-profit organization founded to support veterans through racing, and its program includes plans to field cars in desert and short-course championships starting with a pair of cars in the Legacy Racing Associationit is Lower Nevada June 24. Two others will run in the MORE GC Lightning Freedom Cup July 2/3, followed by the mythical Crandon International Raceway World Championships September 1-5.
The project is overseen by retired United States Marine John McMurrin and UTV team owner Tim Fields. In a letter published Friday, McMurrin explained that the mission of the VRA is “[t]o Introduce and support veterans in the racing community by being a resource for sponsorship assistance, workforce coordination and training in all aspects of racing team operations. While providing fellowship, adrenaline therapy, and a new mission for veterans who lacked it since returning to civilian life.
The objectives were defined with three particular bullet points:
- Knowledge and experience: “Both invaluable things in any field. We’ll use the alliance’s experience to take veteran-owned racing programs to the next level or help where they’re having trouble. The non-profit organization will own a racing vehicle as a platform for novice racing veterans to experience and learn all the different tasks involved in racing. This will allow veterans to be mentored, access knowledge and experience at a fraction of the cost and time it would normally take to acquire.
- Labor coordination: “The alliance is just that, an alliance of veterans and ambassadors who come together for events to help veterans run who otherwise couldn’t because of lack of manpower. VRA leaders will establish a network of manpower resources across the country that can be called upon when a veteran needs help organizing a race. The group comes together to create a team for this event, then goes back to their own schedule. But not only does it help veterans run, it brings together like-minded local veterans who may have never met, building local support networks and friendships.
- Sponsorship assistance: “VRA will reach out, making inroads with businesses, pit services and racing organizations, compiling a support network with the aim of reducing the cost of racing and maintaining/building a racing vehicle for this veteran. Anyone in motorsport knows how difficult it can be to get the attention of a potential sponsor. VRA will endeavor to reduce this by compiling a list of businesses supporting our mission which will allow us to offer discounts to riders or direct introductions to corporate sponsorship staff.
“Throughout we build and bring together veterans creating a brotherhood/sorority that those veterans can lean on in times of mental or physical need,” continued McMurrin’s letter. “Giving these veterans a positive new mission to work towards even if they don’t have their own racing program, giving them a purpose in life that they might miss. Of course, sitting in that race car seat , working in that pit to get the car out fast, chasing the race car along the race course… providing healthy, controlled adrenaline therapy.
Military and off-road racing tends to overlap, which perhaps isn’t a major surprise since combat vehicles frequently move across various types of terrain in addition to pavement. Some off-road events also have categories for military vehicles like the prestigious Mint 400 which features vintage and modern military classes in its limited run; United States Armed Forces personnel participate in both divisions, such as the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in the 2022 edition. Made by a fightera charity that provides recreational therapy to veterans, has also submitted Mint 400 entries and is a partner of the VRA.
The VRA did not immediately reveal the drivers (beyond being veterans) or what classes they would be racing in. For the Baja Nevada, the VRA cars will serve as Fields’ de facto teammates. Motor sports UTV operation that has the T989 for Fields and McMurrin and the U929 for Rob Longfellow and Bill Baker.
Baja Nevada’s selection as the site of the debut of the VRA racing branch will challenge its roster as the longest off-road race in the United States, taking place over a course over 650 miles long. Conversely, the Freedom Cup in Glen Helen Racecourse and the Crandon World Championship are short course events, the latter being billed as the most prestigious short course race.