Vetdrenaline Racing, a non-profit organization helping military veterans cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, will host its first drift racing event at Tucson's Musselman Honda Circuit racetrack on Sunday, Nov. 10.
The “Veterans Drift Experience” will feature 11 professional drift racers who will volunteer their time and race cars to veterans who want to experience the sport from the passenger seat. Veterans Drift Experience is sponsored, in part, by Sonora Behavioral Health Hospital. The purpose of the event is for veterans to experience adrenaline in a healthy way.
"Cars slide down the track sideways in a figure-eight motion. It's almost like the car is dancing on the track at very high speeds", said Vetdrenaline Founder Jess Maney. "It is hard to be depressed when you are strapped into a race car."
Maney is a 20-year veteran of the U.S Army. In 2009, he was struck by an IED, which caused a broken back, traumatic brain injury and PTSD. Today, he runs a personal training program as his day job and uses physical activity as a recovery method.
Maney said he thinks older service members dealt with PTSD in the past, similar to what service members face today, but there is more attention on PTSD today than there was 40 years ago.
"We are trying to help the veterans that survived the war now survive the peace," Maney said.
Veterans are encouraged to pre-register online, but same-day registration is also available. The event is also open to veterans with physical disabilities and non-disabled veterans.
Maney fondly remembers the first time he took a ride in a drift car.
"You just have to hold on and wish for the best. The ride might be ten to fifteen minutes, but the effect lasts forever," Maney said.
Sonora Behavioral Health will help Vetdrenaline Racing network with Tucson-area veterans assistance groups. Vetdrenaline Racing is based in Phoenix.
"I met Jess through the Arizona National Guard and was impressed with his leadership. Our support for veterans and behavioral health issues, I just thought it was a great synergy to help support a non-profit in the area," Mike Tacke, Chief Executive Officer at Sonora Behavioral Health said.
Tacke, a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Army, said the military is still educating and trying to develop more effective mental health treatments for veterans.
"The post-9/11 generation has experienced a lot of this and I don't think that problem is going away, so we need to learn from the past to make sure we are better prepared for the future," Tacke said. "If veterans are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or thoughts of suicide, we want them to not stay quiet. We want them to seek help."
Veterans Drift Experience takes place on Sunday, Nov. 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Musselman Honda Circuit racetrack, 11800 S. Harrison Road. The event is free to veterans who provide a valid DD214 military card and photo identification and $10 for spectators. Veterans who wish to register can send their materials via email to email@example.com.