PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Veterans are hitting the race track in and around Portland this weekend.
The American Rally Association Oregon Trail Rally kicks off Friday night at the Portland International Raceway. Racing continues Saturday in Goldendale and wraps up Sunday in Dufur.
One car competing at the national level will have two veterans in the front seats as driver and co-driver.
It’s an experience open to any veteran who wants to get involved, thanks to a nonprofit called Phoenix Project. It was founded by Glen Ray, who was in the Navy for five years and served two combat deployments.
“Myself, I actually struggled with depression and four years ago was my last-ditch effort to try and save me from myself, so I emptied my bank account, used all my tax returns and rented a car and competed at this very race four years ago,” Ray explained.
He’ll be the co-driver working alongside fellow veteran Rebecca Milner, who served in the Army National Guard.
You might be wondering what the connection is between military service and race car driving.
Ray says they actually have a lot in common – things like teamwork, communication, trust, focus, relying on others and being part of a community.
Plus, it’s a healthy adrenaline source that has nothing to do with drugs or alcohol.
Ray says once he started racing he knew he wanted to get other veterans on the track.
Milner tells FOX 12 it’s a cause she really believes in, and knew she wanted to be part of it.
“You don’t necessarily know going into working on a rally team that you’re going to learn something new and have the opportunity for social and emotional breakthroughs,” she added. “I think it’s kind of not threatening for people to get involved and deal with their PTSD or other emotional issues they might be dealing with after leaving the military.”
As for being a race car driver this weekend?
“I’m excited,” she smiled. “I don’t know if I’ll be the fastest driver, but they say just finish and don’t wreck the car, so we’re good. I think I can do that!”
If you’d like to learn more about Phoenix Project, visit phxpjt.com.
Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.