How motocross is bringing fans and riders alike back from the brink
Motorcycle racing has been around almost since the first person who put a small internal combustion engine on a bicycle. It’s a sport that has brought people, riders and spectators alike, together since the earliest days of the motorcycle itself.
One of the earliest examples of the sport came in 1914 when Alfred Angas Scott, a motorcycle engineer, challenged his employees to an overland time trial.
World War I halted the Scott Trial temporarily, but Scott, who would become a veteran of the Great War, restarted it in the years that followed. The British “Southern Scott Scramble,” as it came to be known, was the precursor to modern-day motocross.
The rules were different, but the camaraderie was the same: It brought people together for a shared experience, like-minded people, and good competition.
Toward the end of World War II, motocross competitions were being held on indoor tracks in Paris. By the 1960s, it was sweeping America. In 1972, a motocross competition was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that was dubbed “The Super Bowl of Motocross” – where “Supercross” was born.
The worlds of military veterans and supercross enthusiasts have begun to realign once again, to the benefit of both. Professional athletes and military veterans are coming to learn they have a lot more in common with each other than they ever realized.
Motocross riders are champions of post-traumatic stress disorder awareness, not only because of military members’ love for the sport, but because they recognize the healing power of this shared experience in the same way the original riders did. They also suffer from many of the same injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries.
Rider Travis Pastrana, a motocross favorite and arguably the face of action sports, has suffered from a number of concussions in his career and is an outspoken advocate of brain injury treatment. His ongoing efforts help veterans recover from the invisible wounds of war.
Brent “Airmail” Worrall’s dedication to the sport, its fans, and the motocross community helped him return to the track after suffering from depression. After a crash left him paralyzed, he returned to the motocross world as a TV host and sportswriter and credits the sport for his recovery, even titling his autobiography “Motocross Saved My Life.”
The words and experiences shared by these riders may sound a little familiar to veterans. It’s little wonder why so many military personnel and veterans identify with the motocross riders and vice versa. It’s more than just the adrenaline bringing people together.
Dwight Halligan is a Desert Storm veteran – a cavalry scout wounded in action while serving with the 3rd Infantry Division in 1991. His unit had previously encountered one of the real instances of Iraqi resistance of the war, the Battle of Medina Ridge. It was the second largest tank battle of the war and the fifth largest tank battle in U.S. history.
Halligan’s wound has left him with physical restrictions and constant pain ever since. Despite his isolation and limitations, he was looking for some way to connect with his young son near his home in Florida.
He saw the Monster Energy Supercross was coming to Tampa and, knowing his son’s love for the sport, he signed up for Vet Tix, a non-profit that receives donations of event tickets from performers, artists, sports teams and other organizations who want to support the military-veteran community. Vet Tix then distributes these donated tickets to veterans, military members currently serving and to first responders.
“I don’t get to do things like this very often due to my physical limitations, but once I saw that Supercross was coming to Tampa I knew this was the one event my son and I could connect with because it's something he loves to do,” Halligan wrote to Vet Tix.
Vet Tix requires a nominal fee to deliver tickets, a fee that helps pay for its operating costs. It was affordable for Halligan, took away the pain for a few hours, and brought him closer to his son, the way it's been bringing people together for more than a century.
To learn more about Vet Tix, to sign up, and look for Vet Tix events in your area (including motocross events), visit the Vet Tix website.