RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A new non-profit is taking to the desert dirt for therapy. With every rev of the engine and tire hitting the ground, these race cars are providing what Outlaw Desert Racing calls “adrenaline therapy.”
“You’ve got base jumpers and people who jump out of perfectly good airplanes. That’s adrenaline,” said Chris Brahs, president of Outlaw Desert Racing and a U.S. Air Force veteran. “So we do adrenaline in the dirt with the race cars.”
It’s a special group of people getting strapped in, including veterans with PTSD and first responders. The racing introduces a healthier adrenaline rush to the ‘fight or flight’ many are used to during work. They say it’s needed when the trauma of the job weighs too heavily.
“We’ll go get the individual and we’ll bring them out here in the desert and we play in the cars all day long,” said Brahs. “The whole day is about them and getting them out of their element, introducing something to them that’s new, a different type of adrenaline. It’s not a fight or flight. You’re not getting shot at, you’re not trying to get out of a burning building, you’re not in a war zone. This is a different adrenaline.”
Many of those behind this group, Outlaw Desert Racing, are disabled veterans, themselves. They know how support and camaraderie can pull someone out of a dark place.
“I’ve watched a lot of my brothers and sisters in arms kind of struggle with stuff,” said Michael Gipson, brand ambassador for Outlaw Desert Racing and a U.S. Army veteran. “They even take their own lives and this is our way of giving back and letting them know we are there.”
It’s a getaway ultimately aimed at ending the suicide epidemic that claims an average of 22 veterans a day. The non-profit is completely mobile and when someone needs the escape, even if they need to remain anonymous, all it takes is a call and they’ll be there, whether it’s heading out in the dirt or simply listening.
“Having a few deployments down, myself, I understand the stress and emotions of work and the things people see,” said Gipson. “If it would be easier for them to come and talk to us, that’s what we’re here for.”
Outlaw Desert Racing is also working on creating racing simulation trailers with wheelchair capability so disabled veterans can also experience the adrenaline thrill. They plan to debut it as the International Off-Road and UTV Expo in Scottsdale, Ariz. next month. Additionally, the non-profit works with other veterans groups like the Forward Flag Foundation to find vets that want to participate in the racing.