Operation Motorsport entered the Big Easy after readjusting to the new venue change from Ozarks to NOLA Motorsports Park and saw a lighter Beneficiary activation then initially planned, but those that came continued to incorporate motorsports into their post-military recovery as they rebuild a sense of Team, Identity, and Purpose. This was Operation Motorsport’s second activation with SRO Motorsports America in the 2022 season and first visit to New Orleans.
Mike Neri (USAF Retired) continued with the Skip Barber Racing School and CrowdStrike Race teams while stepping into a new role as the Crew Chief on Kevin Boehm’s #9 HPD Honda. From the get-go, Mike worked with Kevin to set the car-up for the increased heat and humidity the team would face at a track neither had any experience at. The team saw fast times in practice with Kevin setting the pace in the TC America series. The team ran well throughout the weekend, having won the race on Saturday and taking third on Sunday’s shortened race due to multiple caution laps. Mike cannot wait to join the team again at their next race.
Jennifer Bernstein-Hanlon (USMC Retired) returned for her second activation with the SRO series, building upon her experience at last month’s Sonoma race and embedding her into Race Tech/Scrutineering, with a focus on supporting the Pirelli GT4 America and TC America series. Jennifer spent the weekend assisting on pre- and post-race inspections to ensure all competitors met the requisite technical bulletins and regulations while also responding to additional tasks levied by the series technical director. Jennifer is grateful for her time with SRO and Operation Motorsport to date, she has found a renewed sense of team and self-worth where she feels connected to an extended family and support network.
Matthew Smothermon (USA Retired) also returned for his second activation, supported by SRO. For NOLA, Matthew moved from Race Tech to Race Control where he was immersed into the operational heartbeat of the series. Matthew spent time learning about everything from the minute-by-minute schedule, quickly scouring the rules and regulations to address any on-track issues and penalty assessments, and the key to clear and concise communications from Race Control to the Teams to ensure everyone is operating under the same information. Matthew likened his experience this weekend to that of his time of military deployments and working in a Tactical Operations Center, the command center of military operations.
To hear these Beneficiary stories in their own words, please visit Operation Motorsport’s YouTube channel and the following links: Mike Neri, Jennifer Bernstein-Hanlon, Matthew Smothermon.
Looking forward, these Beneficiaries, and others, will be active June 17-19 at VIRginia International Raceway. This race will see expanded activities hosted by Operation Motorsport to include a Patriot Car Corral with partners from REDCOM and USO-North Carolina to engage military friends, family, veterans, and supporters of the foundation.