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Heroes Motorsports – An Emotional Journey

Meet the Strength Behind Heroes Motorsports

Interview by Tess aka Mrs QuickTrick

Al & Cari,

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about Heroes Motorsports and share some of yourselves.  What you do is so important for our veterans and community.  We know this is a busy time for you and the team, so thank you again for taking some time to share with the QuickTrick family.

To bring everyone else up to date:

Al and Cari Almahdi are responsible for Heroes Motorsport.  The organization is a 501(c)3 outreach program that puts veterans in race cars in order to reach potentially at-risk veterans and get them involved in motorsports, with other veterans and with their communities at large. They are an all-volunteer organization that relies on support by donations of gear and equipment as well as financial donations. Veterans can choose if they want to race, be a part of the pit crew or just enjoy the experience.

Al is a Navy veteran who served in Iraq with 26th MEU CI, Force Recon, as well as the Navy, Army, and CIA, as an interpreter. His service to the country spans a lifetime. Even before he graduated high school, he interned with the US state department in an embassy overseas. After being in combat in Iraq, Al faced what many veterans faced in returning to the states, difficulty in re-integrating back into family, society and normal life.

Let’s get into it!

First and foremost, we know you are a veteran owned business.  How did you go from Military service to the motorsports industry and helping other veterans?

Al & Cari:  After several years of struggling to reintegrate back into society and through many challenges, Al renewed his love for unique cars and racing. This led him to get an M3 that he just happened to be driving on a camping trip with his service dog, Hawkeye. By chance, he met the mother of a marine veteran who was having his own struggles. The young marine was at the same campground Al was staying at and the rangers, knowing he was a combat veteran, asked Al if he would be willing to come and speak to the young man who was having a difficult time. Al missed being able to speak to the marine by mere minutes because the veteran left to seek help, but Al was able to speak to his mother, who said in passing how much her son loved cars and racing. She felt it might have helped her son to focus on something exciting that called to mind the camaraderie that he experienced with his brothers in arms.

What is the most rewarding part of what you do, and can you share a story as an example?

Al & Cari:

We have had three veterans racing teams spin off from the Heroes team. There is nothing that makes me happier than to see how we have fostered a love of racing in the veterans that come through the program to the extent that they have started their own teams and now they race with Lucky Dog Racing League. It’s so great to have them in the league because we still get to interact with them closely and see their process. We hope to see many more teams spring from the program so that we can help as many veterans as possible. We get to see the effects of team participation in the veterans who race with us, and the smiles on their faces when they get out of the car after their first laps, are the best reward!

Can you tell us a bit about the donations/sponsorships and how it helps support the team?

AL & Cari:  We have a budget of about $1500-$2000 per race to get the car prepared, replace worn gear and purchase fuel. Donations of usable, unexpired gear are invaluable to help this team function. Cathy Fuss, the owner of Lucky Dog Racing League gave us the solid foundation we needed to get this team off the ground. We are grateful to receive donations from LDRL racing teams who graciously support us with monetary donations as well as gear they are no longer using. . Pyrotect race gear have been a long time supporter as well and they help keep us in gear that must be purchased new. QuickTrick Alignment Tools was one of our earliest sponsors. You and Gary believed in this team when we barely knew what we were doing and we will be eternally grateful for your support.

We know you have a great relationship with Lucky Dog Racing League and they have been instrumental with support.  Can you tell us which race tracks you usually run with them for other veterans who may want to take part in the experience?

Al & Cari:  Heroes Motorsport races at Portland International Raceway, The Ridge Motorsports Park, Oregon Raceway Park and Thunderhill, when we can. This year for the first time we are able to race at Sonoma Raceway which is very exciting for us. It has been a bucket list track for us for quite some time and we are so grateful to be able to take the veterans there this year! We also hope to get back to Buttonwillow sometime in the future.

What do you find is the biggest challenge in making the race events a positive experience for everyone?

Al & Cari:  Getting a race car or two ready for a race in the short  time we have between races is one of the biggest challenges. Generally, there are only 6 weeks from one race to the next.  Depending on what needs to be repaired or replaced it can also be an expensive proposition. Heroes has a terrific equipment manager, Jason A. who keeps the cars running and on track in his very precious spare time. This program wouldn’t be able to run without him and the support of our many volunteers and board. So many people pull together to make this team work for our veterans. Another challenge is ongoing fundraising to be able to make all of our scheduled races. We are an all volunteer organization so we rely on small donations to keep us going.

How long have you been running the team, and would you consider replicating the experience with other leagues across the country if they want to support your efforts?

Al & Cari: Heroes has been racing since 2017. Cari has been running the team since 2018 and in that time there have been several groups of veterans who have gone on to create their own teams. We encourage and applaud every group that offshoots from Heroes. We think that this program saves lives and helps veterans and first responders in ways that are hard to quantify. The camaraderie, excitement and fellowship that happens at the track creates bonds that are reminiscent of the ones they knew in the military they left behind that meant so much, and there is very little to compare to it in the civilian world. We see the changes on the faces of our participants and the changes they make in their lives, and the friendships that are forged. Our future goal is to create chapters in other states so that more veterans and first responders can experience it first hand.

 

How many veterans have been able to benefit from the racing experience?

Al & Cari:  We have had over 250 veterans come through the program. Our goal for every race is to have at least 50% new Veteran participants and we generally reach that goal.  We are constantly looking to expand our reach and bring new veterans and first responders into the program.   

We hope the QuickTrick equipment helps your efforts.  What else can we, and others, do to support the team?

Al & Cari:  We would appreciate support getting the word out about the team to veterans who may benefit from our program via social media, and our website. We need monetary donations or donations of usable racing gear in good condition. Anyone can donate to our Paypal at

www.paypal.me/heroesmotorsport. We are a 501(c)3 so donations over $250 are tax deductible.

We will list all of the Heroes Motorsports information and links below, but if anyone is in crisis or knows someone in crisis, what is the best place to call for help?

Al & Cari:

The hardest thing to do when you are in crisis is to make a phone call and ask for help. Heroes has a chat on FB where you can reach out anytime for someone to talk to, and for those veterans who are in crisis and need more assistance the VA has the following hotline set up. 

To connect with a Veterans Crisis Line responder anytime day or night:

  • Dial 988 then Press 1.
  • Start a confidential chat.
  • Text 838255
  • If you have hearing loss, call TTY: 800-799-4889.

Please share anything else you would like people to know:

Al & Cari:  In the course of our 6 years of operation we have had 3 team members commit suicide.  The struggle our veterans go through is real and reaches every part of our lives. We try as hard as we can to be aware of those who are going through the pain and suffering that leads to suicide, but many times, you dont see any warning signs. You see the smile that people hide their pain behind, and you never see the agony of loneliness, the depression, the feeling that there is no use in living and their loved ones would be better off if they were dead. You rarely see it coming and it is complete and utter devastation for the families of these veterans.

The helplessness and inability to see any way out other than taking the final option is something most of us cannot begin to understand. THIS is why the team exists. It is why we invite veterans and first responders to participate in something bigger than themselves. Our goal and hope is to reach veterans who feel this hopelessness, and show them that there is something worth living for and that there are those who care if they live or die. We care, and we are here to help them.

Thank you, Tess and Gary for your support through the years. Your support and love of veterans has helped us become the organization we are today!

 

Tess & Gary – Mr & Mrs QuickTrick:

We are truly proud to be one of your supporters.

We hope this interview will bring more support for the team.  Links are listed below.  Gary and Tess have made a $1000 dollar donation today.  We ask that all of our family consider what you can do to help.  Whether your support is monetary, giving social media boosts or just sending prayers of support, we are all family and support each other.

Al & Cari, Thanks for sharing and being part of the QuickTrick family.

 

“To All of My Brothers in Arms… You are not alone. We fought together, we suffered and sacrificed together, and we will get through it together, as one. You are with all of us.” Al Almahdi, USN, Iraq combat veteran.

Links:

Facebook  

Instagram

Website: Heroes Motorsports 

Donations:  Monetary Donation  for Items and Gear donations contact Cari at EMAIL

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