Mar. 9, 2017 (Agua Dulce, Calif.): Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Mike Shatynski and Brian Trotter (above left and right, respectively) of Racing 4 Vets will be carrying the number 1 on their Flyer light strike military vehicle in this year’s 50th Anniversary NORRA Mexican 1000 rally. Retired Reconnaissance Marine and recipient of a Silver Star, Robert Blanton (above center) of Warfighter Made, will be competing in a similar Flyer with the number 22. 1 and 22 signify the amount of military members that take their own lives every day; 1 active duty and 22 vets. The pair of Flyer military vehicles will be bringing attention to the terrible problem that exists for our military members who have difficulties coping with injuries and returning to society.
Both Admiral Shatynski and Robert Blanton are part of programs that help veterans to deal with the aftermath of their service. Some of the vets they help have visible injuries; others carry their scars or illnesses inside. The NORRA Mexican 1000 allows these men and women, who are used to accomplishing incredible things in the military, to be a part of a team again and to accomplish a shared goal. The camaraderie and fun experienced at the “Happiest Race On Earth!”, is just what many need to help the healing process. The Mexican 1000 challenges competitors without the stresses found in other types of racing, and the goal of getting everyone to the finish line in Cabo is similar to the military’s credo of leaving no man behind.
Admiral Shatynski is the Southern California Regional Director for Racing 4 Vets. Their mission is to develop motorsports career training and outreach programs for service disabled U.S. military veterans, and to provide opportunities for disabled veterans to compete in amateur motorsports. “I’ve been offroading in the desert since I was young,” said Shatynski, “Racing gives us the chance to be part of something bigger than ourselves. A lot of the younger guys in our program don’t have the money it takes to travel to Mexico and to take place in the rally. We do what we can to pay for entry fees and cover food and travel expenses. We are a 501c3 non-profit so we count on donations to make it happen. We put together these teams but they are more like a family. They give support to the team and after every day of racing they have time to socialize with other racers that include icons of the sport. I used to know guys like Rod Hall as Champions; now I know them as friends.”
Warfighter Made is a veteran based non-profit that adapts and customizes combat wounded veteran’s vehicles, and provides recreational therapy during their offroad events. “We take service members out, let them enjoy motorsports, and have fun with other vets,” says Robert Blanton, “Once we get to know them, we can assess where they are in their recovery. I became friends with Mike (Shatynski) and he knew where to find another Flyer light strike vehicle so we planned to race NORRA for the 50th anniversary. The vehicle is being prepped by our core group in the shop that includes 4 combat wounded amputees and one double amputee. Our 2 vehicle team will be out there mutually supporting each other; we will be crossing the line together each day. Some of our team members have treatment and medical obligations that won’t allow them to travel to Mexico for the rally, but they have a stake in the team and will have made a big contribution to the team’s success.” Many people will be cheering for the Flyer teams at the 50th Anniversary of the NORRA Mexican 1000. For more information about the NORRA Mexican 1000 rally got to: https://www.norra.com/ to find out more about Warfighter Made: http://warfightermade.myshopify.com/ and Racing for Vets: http://www.racing4vets.org/southern-ca/