Tuesday, August 9, 2011

“Veterans in Action-Stay on Track” Rallycross Camp at DirtFish Rally School Concludes at X Games 17!

On July 12-13, three injured Veterans had the opportunity to skid and tear their way across coarse terrain as guests at a two-day training donated to Adaptive Action Sports, Inc., by the DirtFish Rally School (www.dirtfish.com) in Snoqualmie, WA.   

The training was a kick-off event in an AAS rallycross train-and-race series called “Stay on Track.”  The series, which will eventually be open to permanently disabled Veterans and non-Veterans alike, was inaugurated as  part of a new  Veteran-specific AAS program called “Veterans in Action.”

The AAS mission is to provide opportunities for permanently disabled individuals to participate in Action Sports, such as skateboarding, snowboarding and rally racing. “In 2010, we were able to expand our existing Action Sports programs to include a Veterans-in-Action focus,” explains Daniel Gale, Executive Director of the nonprofit AAS.  “Our first two Veterans Learn to Ride and Race snowboard camps, held in 2011, were very successful.  From these camps, we learned that ‘getting back in action’ is the preferred means by which many injured military personnel successfully cope with their disabilities.  This was the stimulus for our Stay on Track program.”

The rally camp was held at DirtFish Rally School, North America’s premier rally training facility. DirtFish’s 315-acre property offers a unique learning environment.  “None of the Vets attending this inaugural program knew quite what to expect,” says Gale, “but undeniably they were pleasantly surprised by the experience. With mud, gravel, and dirt surfaces peppered among abandoned warehouses and buildings, DirtFish offered the Veterans a dramatic setting in which to learn how to race a car.” 

Clinton Okada, a single below the knee amputee, was one of the Veterans who attended. “This was one of the most memorable experiences of my life,” Okada said of the two-day intensive training.  He was accompanied by his fellow “battle buddy” John Beaver.

Beaver and Okada were together when Okada lost his leg in Afghanistan. Their vehicle was exploded by a deep-buried IED that created a chaotic scene.  Although injured himself, Beaver earned a second Purple Heart by pulling Okada to safety with the help of another soldier. 


“It was great to share this with Clinton,” said Beaver adding “I will think of this when I think about Okada instead of battle.” (Watch the official AAS DirtFish video on www.adacs.org to hear more about their story.)

Injured vet Brad Steensma, left, with Tanner Foust at X 17

Injured Vet Brad Steensma was also on hand for the AAS Dirtfish training. On the second day of camp, Okada, Beaver and Steensma participated in a friendly timed-race with Steensma coming out on top.  As a result, Brad was given the opportunity to attend X Games 17 on July 31st to watch the RallyCross event live.  As part of his prize, Brad also had the opportunity to meet top drivers Dave Mirra, Robbie Maddison and Tanner Foust. To top off his experience the above PSA (Video), in which Brad appears, was aired live on site just minutes before the Rallycross Finals.

“I can’t thank AAS enough for this whole experience: from the DirtFish Rally School training all the way to X Games.  I’d do it again in a second” said Steensma.

A long-range “Stay on Track” goal is to provide sanctioned, recognized rally racing opportunities for adaptive drivers.  “Our down-the-road vision,” Gale said, “is to gain adaptive divisions within regional rally racing events and, of course, potentially an adaptive X Games rally contest.”

 “We’re thrilled to support Adaptive Action Sports in its mission,” said DirtFish President, Ross Bentley.  “We’re really looking forward to working with the adaptive drivers that AAS represents.  We can give them a great foundation of skills on their quest to be professional rally drivers.”

DirtFish offers a range of training programs for all levels of drivers.  In addition to many passionate thrill seekers, DirtFish has also worked with action sports stars like Dave Mirra and Shaun White.  

AAS would like to say thank you to all of the sponsors that supported this event including DirtFish, Freedom Innovations, Udo's Oil "Oil the Machine", Coal Headwear, Contour Cameras and Bradley Scott Films.

For additional information, contact AAS Executive Director Daniel Gale at 619-770-0240 or Bruce Cleland of DirtFish Rally School at425-577-2616. 

Brad and The Stig!

Injured Vet Brad Steensma on left with Robbie Maddison

Brad and Dave Mirra