If you want to get a real perspective on what is important in life, could I commend a trip to Anglesey next November? Of course you may already have an absolute understanding of what is trivial and what really bloody matters but, if you don’t, a weekend, a day or even an hour at the annual Race of Remembrance should do the trick nicely. It certainly did for me.
For those who don’t know, it’s a 12-hour race held over the Remembrance Sunday weekend, run by Forces charity Mission Motorsport. MM’s mantra is ‘race, retrain, recover’ and in pursuit of that objective it has already helped 1300 beneficiaries, providing placements for over 200 and full-time jobs for 100 more. Many of these beneficiaries are among the most injured people ever to be evacuated from a war zone, often having come into all-too-close contact with a hateful IED (improvised explosive device). Among their number I could count all three of the drivers with whom I shared a Mazda MX-5 Global Cup racing car for the weekend, or at least until, through no fault of Mazda or its drivers, it broke on us.
There will be a full article about them and their extraordinary stories in next week’s Autocar magazine, but one, Andy Jones, was a former member of the elite Parachute Regiment who ended up living out of bin bags; the second, Paul Vice, was a Marine Commando with a Military Cross to his name even before he became the most injured person known to have survived Afghanistan; and the third, Liam Dwyer, was a US Marine so badly hurt that to date he has gone under the surgeon’s knife over 50 times. They are different people from different spheres of the military, but all have one thing in common, save being blown up by IEDs: all will tell you that racing has helped them stay alive.