VETMotorsports is a Veteran Therapy founded by Peter Cline that uses motorsports to empower Veterans when returning to civilian life.
VETMotorsports is a nonprofit, 501(c) organization that empowers the military community through active participation in motorsports. Those who are Veterans, active duty, National Guard, Reserve or Gold Star families can race and assist with race car events with little to no cost.
Many Veterans suffer service-related injuries and may have lost the sense of camaraderie upon returning home. In the Four-Wheel outreach program, participants can work one-on-one with instructors and within a team to build teamwork and trust skills. Veterans can come with no experience and learn to drive manual transmission vehicles in Indy Two-Seater rides. An instructor teaches them how to operate the vehicle and stays with them as the Veterans drive on a closed course. VETMotorsports provides the car and fuel, training, food/drink and a team jersey with a hat for the events.
Peter Cline, the founder of VETMotorsports, began this non-clinical outreach program in 2012. It is now an award-winning premier program in the space that they operate. It currently has 10 locations across the United States: California, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Washington D.C., Wisconsin and more. They also do traveling events in Arizona and New Jersey through a partnership with Yamaha. VETMotorsports has also partnered with Mazda Motorsports for events in Mexico.
Cline also developed a partnership with Garageshop. Created by Aaron Rodriguez, Garageshop is a national race car organization aimed at providing deeper experiences on the racecourse. Aaron Rodriguez recognized that while military life is very mission-centered with a built-in team within your platoon and a frequent adrenaline rush, civilian life isn’t like that and the adjustment can be difficult. The partnership has been a large part of their ability to expand the outreach program.
We talked with Michigan’s VETMotorsports site manager, Nicholas Aranda, to learn more about the program. Aranda runs the four-wheel program in Michigan and is part of the racing team out of Romulus, which covers four drivers and six cars. He loves what VETMotorsports can do for Veterans and their families and is excited to see the program grow.
“I will never forget the first time I gave a Veteran that challenge coin on my first event. When we shook hands and he felt the cold metal in his hands, he immediately knew what it was. To see a man well up with tears at that moment was what concreted VETMotorsports into the team’s plans. We all knew that this was something we had to do going forward. I myself struggled to keep my composure then. I have worked with young Veterans who are very eager to hop in the car and go all out, as well as very cautious and disciplined older Veterans… the bonds made behind the wheel are serious ones, and I’m glad to say so far all the Veterans who I work with still keep in touch with messages and meetings even after the event.” – Nicholas Aranda
This impact motivates Cline and the rest of the VETMotorsports team to continue empowering Veterans across the country. They work towards racing content, showing Vets some love and sharing that there are some people out there who want to help them.
Veterans or caregivers who are interested in this program can find more information at http://www.vetmotorsports.org/.
The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on the part of VA.
Writer: Kimberly Kassis
Editor: Elissa Tatum
Fact Checker: Ormina Naveed
Graphics: Chalsi Lee