Mission Motorsport is a forces charity dedicated to turning lives around, taking Wounded, Injured and Sick personnel (WIS) from across the British Armed Forces and giving then hope, purpose and the skills needed to transition into work in civilian life.
They aim to inspire & rebuild confidence, help in the development of new & existing skills, provide training & direct vocational support & assistance, & help establish paths to employment. In their fourth year, they have helped over 500 personnel so far by inspiring and showing even badly disabled personnel that they can contribute to a team, they can enjoy things and they can have real purpose in life. They do this by introducing them to motorsport; they can spectate, be part of the huge teams that support a race or indeed compete themselves.
Their philosophy is based on what people can do, not what they can’t.
Mission Motorsport were loaned Paul’s Lotus Elise for the 2015 season. The idea was to involve as many of the Mission team in the race car as possible. The obvious championship to run the car in was Lotus Cup UK as Paul set this up and ran it until the end of 2014 before taking a decision to concentrate his spare time on running the FIA approved Lotus Cup Europe championship.
Mission took the car just before the season started and began learning about her and preparing her for the seasons campaign. Lotus Cup UK consisted of 60-90minute races and involved 2 drivers and pit stops with refueling which required teamwork.
SAC Gareth Lloyd had just started with MM and was learning to be a mechanic – he was dropped right in at the deep end with the Elise but against all the odds did an amazing job getting her through the opening two rounds at Snetterton & Donington, before receiving a full time work placement with a historic race team. The season with the Elise owes everything to Gareth and MM workshop manager James Webley along with Emma Newman who helped run the car after many years on the LoTRDC team, where she also continues to help.
A small piece on the Mission Motorsport team who were involved in the car during the 2015 season.
Major Steve McCulley was injured by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan in May, 2011 whilst commanding a company in 42 Commando. After three weeks in a medically-induced coma, he started rehab but needed major surgery in August, 2012. As a result of that procedure, he lost 80% of his right lung but surgeons also removed 15 pieces of shrapnel from his chest cavity. Steve finished 4th in the 2014 Caterham Academy championship in his first season of racing and raced the Elise in the opening two rounds of LCUK.
Trooper James Gillborn was injured in Afghanistan whilst working as an advisor to the Afghanistan National Army. On the 8th June 2011 Jimmy stood on an IED triggering an explosion, he was flown back to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham the next day where surgeons tried to save his right leg. Unfortunately this was not possible and as so Jimmy had his leg amputated below the knee. 11 days later he was transferred to Headley Court to start his rehabilitation. Jimmy was a mechanic before joining the Army and has always been interested in motorsport, the staff at Headley Court put him in touch with Mission Motorsport and he attended a drift day at Silverstone. Despite his injury Jimmy showed a natural aptitude behind the wheel which he decided he’d like to pursue further. Jimmy was offered the chance to drive for Mission Motorsport at the Silverstone 24hr race, where he went on to win ‘driver of the race’, and he is now the veteran of three major endurance races. Jimmy is now on a Defence Recovery Attachment with a Motorsport company where he is training on the job to be a race engineer.
Pte Matt Noakes was a mobilised Army reservist for 6 years following a career in the Marines. Having been deployed to Afghanistan in a reconnaissance infantry role, he unfortunately received a shoulder injury & is still receiving treatment, but due to complications after several operations has been medically discharged from the Army. Matt joined Mission Motorsport in 2012 at a number of events as part of the mechanical support crew. Matt attended a vocational tour of the Bentley Motors factory at Crewe and through the Mission Motorsport vocational provision, Matt started working at Bentley Motors Ltd in a Defence Recovery Placement which due to his hard work and commitment has led to full time employment, with aspirations to work for Bentleys Motorsport department. Matt has also worked for Aston Martin Racing as pit crew for the World Endurance Championships, joining the team for all European and worldwide races in the series including the prestigious Le Mans 24hr race. With Matt’s ever growing confidence he is now chasing the dreams he never thought possible, becoming a racing driver! Only recently passing his ARDS test Matt has become Mission Motorsport’s latest racing driver. Completing his first race at Oulton Park he admitted it was a difficult introduction to racing with terrible weather conditions and mechanical problems, however, proudly finishing the race he was driven to show what he is made of at his next round at Brands Hatch where he finished just one place behind ex-Lotus F1 driver Martin Donnelly. Matt says “I owe a lot to Mission Motorsport, possibly my life, I just hope I can do them proud and show what us Mission men and women are made of, and give the charity the recognition it deserves”.
Corporal James Webley was a Corporal in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, serving 12 years as both a light & heavy vehicle technician. He was medically discharged last year and is awaiting a double hip replacement. His love of all things mechanical saw him join Mission Motorsport in 2013 as the workshop manager, building and maintaining race cars, and managing a fleet of over 30 vehicles. Now also holding his own race licence, he helps deliver their own experience days on tracks across the country, and he built & runs the Mac Tools sponsored Mazda MX5 race car which is currently being driven by a double amputee driver competing in the BRSCC championship as well as 2010 Porsche Cayman S fully adapted race car driven by the first ever paralysed female to hold a UK race licence, competing in the Porsche club championship. James has prepared, run and raced the Elise a number of times during 2015.
Sgt Gary Dunning has served for 21 years in the Royal Logistics Corps and has been on eight operational tours to the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. These experiences have taken their toll on him, along with a huge motorcycle accident resulting in many broken bones, nerve damage and a new knee being required, followed by an incident causing damage to 2 vertebrae in his neck. Gary now suffers from severe PTSD. Gary was the first person in 2012 to complete the Mission Motorsport drivers’ development programme which includes skills training, coaching and licence acquisition. Gary found a vocational placement through Mission Motorsport within the motorsport industry at a company which provide race simulator training for both professional and amateur race drivers to improve their ability behind the wheel. He was a huge success, and the placement led directly to full time employment, and Gary now travels around the world with the company, run by two time Le Mans winner, Darren Turner. It is, to quote Gary, his “Dream Job”. Gary has raced the Elise three times in 2015.
The following are drivers & mechanics racing and running the Elise in LCUK in 2015.
R1 – Snetterton: L/Cpl James Gilborn & Major Steve McCulley driving – SAC Gareth Lloyd Mechanic
R2 – Donington: – Major Steve McCulley & Cpl Gary Dunning driving – SAC Gareth Lloyd, SAC Billy Bonson & L/Cpl Russell Anderson Mechanics
R3 – Rockingham: – L/Cpl Russell Anderson & Cpl Gary Dunning driving – Pte Ben Barker, Pte Stuart Rivard & SAC Gareth Lloyd Mechanics
R4 – Oulton: – Cpl James Webley & Pte Matt Noakes driving – L/Cpl Russell Anderson Mechanic
R6 – Brands Hatch: – Cpl James Webley & Pte Matt Noakes driving – Cpl Russell Anderson & SAC Billy Bonson Mechanics
R7 – Silverstone: – L/Cpl Russell Anderson & Cpl Gary Dunning driving – SAC Gareth Lloyd, Flt Sgt Jon Aram & Bdr Stefan Godfree Mechanics
R8 – Snetterton: Pte Matt Noakes & Rfn Sam Parker – L/Cpl Russell Anderson, Spr Rob Jackson & Bdr Stefan Godfree Mechanics