Vets charity wants to bring international race to home soil
THE driving force behind an Ipswich charity which has assisted about 500 military veterans through adrenaline pumping "therapy" will travel to the United States to take part in one of the most biggest off-road races in the world.
RSL RAEMUS Rover Off-Road Racing Team managing director Ian Baker will head to Las Vegas at the end of the month for the Mint 400, which attracts 65,000 people from around the globe.
He wants to use the opportunity to lure American veterans teams to Queensland for an international event next year.
Mr Baker will form part of the north Queensland based Marson Racing team in the pit crew.
The event is not just the chance to rub shoulders with the best off-road racers in the world but form new contacts, speak to potential investors and pick up new skills to grow the program.
It was the launch of the 2020 Mint 400 Military Challenge at this year's event that meant it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
All five branches of the United States military will have their own off-road race vehicle competing to earn money for their specific charity.
"You won't get any bigger opportunity," Mr Baker said.
"They all want to know what we do. They want to know how it works and how we utilise our program for mental health support and social reintegration.
"The opportunity for us to train and educate them in veteran support methods in the states is incredibly important.
"The horsepower they can generate by taking on board this sort of program will pay us back tenfold with their capability. They bring along big research dollars."
Mr Baker is trying to organise a veterans international event in Queensland for mid next year.
"We've already got a long relationship with the big UK veterans group (Future Terrain) and so this is our opportunity to get a real good link in with a couple of the US veterans teams," he said.
"I've already got agreement in principle for 10 of the top 25 teams in Australia to donate their time and their vehicles.
"The training and certification will be at Willowbank. We have a site at Maryborough (for the event)."
The team are gearing up for another busy year and will train up a team of five female veterans to launch a first women's team next year.
"We've got two programs in north Queensland, one in central Queensland and four down here (in Ipswich) plus our challenge events," Mr Baker said.