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Keeping British Forces Rehab… ON TRACK

“True Heroes Racing” is the brain child of a serving Royal Navy sailor who has been lucky enough to return from several Tours of Duty in Afghanistan uninjured.  After working with a large number of injured UK Service personnel on motorsport charity events it was decided to try and use competitive motorsport as a way of restoring a sense of direction and focus for our injured UK Service personnel and in 2012 “True Heroes Racing” was formed”.

One thing will always be apparent to anyone who has met an injured UK Service person and that is the medical support and assistance they receive from the point of injury is second to none, and the positive mental attitude and focus on recovery and medical rehabilitation that they have is phenomenal. Unfortunately, due to the nature and severity of the injuries many of these individuals have suffered a career in the military is no longer an option once they reach the end of their medical rehabilitation.

It is at this point of their recovery that a loss of direction and a realisation of the severity of their situation really hits home. Repeatedly I have heard from injured personnel that they thought the military would be their career for life and suddenly they don’t know what to do. For them the future can quickly become a very dark place.

It was this lack of direction and focus that led to the concept of “True Heroes Racing”. What the project aims to do is to be able to use the world of motorsport to firstly, prove to these individuals and the wider community that they can compete on a level playing field with their able bodied counterparts within the fast, often frenetic and pressurised environment of top level motorsport. An environment with pressures and timelines not unlike their military deployments, yet an environment that most Service personnel have little or no involvement with even before they suffer their injuries. Secondly, to use all aspects of motorsport to provide exposure and experience as well as, hopefully in time, retraining and qualification opportunities for members of the project, which could potentially help them decide on future career options outside of the military. But most importantly, to give all injured members of the project a new sense of purpose and a focus for them to set and achieve new goals.

Every project has to start somewhere and it was decided to prove the ability of these injured Service personnel in the more difficult racing field of motorcycle racing. If these guys can show the world they can do it on 2 wheels, it shows anything else is possible!!!

To that end a motorcycle race team was formed in 2012 consisting, as far as practically possible, of injured Service personnel. The team was formed around rider, LCPL Murray Hambro, who was serving with the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment when he was blown up in Afghanistan on 9th December 2010. Murray unfortunately lost both his legs below the knee in the explosion, but is able to ride a motorcycle with artificial legs. His motorcycle has been adapted to replace all the usual foot controls with hand controls mounted on the handlebars. True Heroes Racing is not all about the rider though; the whole team ethos is just as important. So Murray was supported technically by other injured Servicemen, who also had severe life changing injuries affecting limbs, and the team also had one able bodied Serviceman whose role was to assist the injured technicians with the tasks they physically are unable to complete by themselves.

After a short season learning the ropes at a Club level, True Heroes Racing broke new ground and became the UK’s first injured Serviceman’s motorcycle race team to compete on the National stage, when they took Murray Hambro to the world renowned British Superbike Championships to compete in the 2013 Triumph Triple Challenge. This put the team into the highest level of motorcycle competition within the UK, competing against mainstream able bodied riders and teams on a televised platform. This really brought True Heroes Racing to the public’s attention and offered an inspirational story to all who followed motorcycle racing and beyond.

After the huge success of 2013, and with additional support and sponsorship, the team were able to grow and for 2014 ran a second injured rider, Cpl Luke Smith, alongside Murray. Both riders were again supported by other injured UK Service personnel in the Triumph Triple Challenge at the British Superbike Championships. Luke was unfortunately injured in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2011 that left him with severe hearing loss. Mid way through the season True Heroes Racing was joined by established rider Dan Helyer, who although not injured or a Serviceman, wanted to help promote and develop True Heroes Racing. Dan was competing under his own funding in a different class at the British Superbike Championships and increased exposure and awareness of what True Heroes Racing was achieving, whilst at the same time enabling further opportunities for more injured Service personnel to form his support crew.

For 2015 True Heroes Racing will again be growing, involving more injured UK Service personnel and increasing their footprint within the British Superbike Championships. The team will also be further developing the concept of able bodied riders alongside injured riders, all supported by injured support crew. For 2015 the team will be switching from Triumph Daytona’s to Ducati 899 Panigale’s and fielding a 3 rider team in the Ducati Tri Options Cup, with the addition of ex Soldier Dave Mackay alongside Murray and Luke.

With aspirations to take True Heroes Racing as far as possible and to full British Superbike level the future is bright for the team. Year on year the team has shown continued growth and been able to offer more and more opportunities for injured Service personnel to become involved in all aspects of competitive motorcycle racing. The whole concept of what True Heroes Racing is about and what it is achieving has really got the public’s attention and support. Why not show your support, follow True Heroes Racing on FaceBook and Twitter.

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