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Wounded Warrior Autocross

by Joe Kraetsch, NCR Autocross Chair

NCR Autocross #5 on August 3rd was a very special autocross to honor our wounded veterans. Soldiers and their families from the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) were invited to join us as spectators and for exhibition rides with our instructors around the autocross course.

A few days before the event, driver registration was very weak putting the quality of the event at risk. We extended registration an extra day and reached out to other autocross clubs to join us in supporting this worthy cause. The response was terrific and we filled the event. In addition to the net proceeds from the event, we collected over $800 in donations. With additional donation from NCR and the autocross program, we are making a $2000.00 donation to the Wounded Warrior Foundation!

The Warriors arrived late morning while we were still doing our morning runs. NCR hospitality volunteers were on hand to greet them. At noon, we stopped for a pizza lunch while drivers and Warriors mingled and socialized with one another. After a social lunch hour with the WW and their families, they were taken for exhibition laps around the course in a special session by our instructors and most stayed to see our afternoon runs. The drivers were very welcoming to and seemed to enjoy themselves as much as the vets.

The weather was perfect for autocross—slightly cloudy with temps in the high 70s. The event ran perfectly except for one timing problem in the AM session caused by a generator failure, but even with that and the extended lunch hour, we still got 8 runs for the day. The feedback from the Warriors, their families, the drivers, guests from the other clubs, and from the volunteers was overwhelmingly positive. Lots of smiles!

Our volunteers and drivers had as much fun as the Warrior did. Ivy Cowles, Northlander Editor and hospitality volunteer writes:

Visiting and chatting with the Wounded Warriors themselves was such an eye opener. The things they have dealt with in their young lives and what they have done to protect our country is nothing short of amazing. They are all heroes—each and every one of them.

 

We shared several conversations with three of our Wounded Warrior visitors. All of which were unique in their own way. We talked about the war, life in general, and even about cars. One particular Warrior, who is the proud owner of a beautiful Camaro, told Hank and me that being at this event was the first time he saw adrenalin come back into his life in a long, long time. We will be seeing him at an autocross soon—mark my words. I really have to say that sharing time with these guys and seeing the excitement in their eyes and hearing the excitement in their voices made my day. The smiles on their faces were priceless!

 

What a special day for not only our visitors but for Porsche members like me. This is what it is all about! “The People.”

 

Judy Hendrickson, hospitality volunteer, NCR historian and a retired Air Force Colonel shared similar sentiments.

Berthold Langer, longtime NCR member and hospitality volunteer summed up the event beautifully:

I did not specifically speak with any particular Wounded Warrior, listened and observed and I can only underline what Judy said, some of their stories or the bits that they shared with others or just among themselves were hair-raising and these guys deserve kudos for staying sane and finding fun and laughter when it avails itself, like at our event. These guys and in some cases their families seemed genuinely thrilled to be at the event, to connect to each other and to have positive thrills being in cars and around the track. For me it was a privilege to be able to help and to be there with so many people who make this club what it is and a pleasure to be part of. Salute to the Wounded Warriors (actually not just the wounded ones, as they are all wounded when they come home) and salute to a club that puts its abilities to help and support people before any other vanities. 

 

We would like to thank Tom Pelton, autocross staff member and Wounded Warrior alumnus, for his help in planning the event and for getting the word out to the WWP/WTU. Thanks to Lazy Mary’s pizza for the nice discount and a few free pizzas. Thanks to our special NCR member volunteers: Berthold Langer, Judy Hendrickson, Hank and Ivy Cowles for welcoming the Warriors, setting up the spectator tents, serving the pizza, and overall hospitality management. Thanks to Bill Seymour and Dave Berman, NER-PCA; Rob MacAlpine, Renegade Miata Club; Audra Tella, BMWCCA; Bob Davis, SCCA; Mark Stimpson, Gary Parker and Aegir Jonsson, NE-SVT for their help in filling the event. Thanks to all the participants and instructors for making the Warriors feel welcome. Thanks to everyone who donated so generously. Most of all, thanks to the Warriors for the sacrifices they have made for all of us and our country! God Bless them all.