Through a love of car rac­ing

Valley Journal Advertiser - - EXTRAS - FROM, A1 Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

It’s de­caled as a Toy­ota Camry. O’Con­nor said they plan to have a full race sea­son with the car in Shube­nacadie this year.

“The whole pow­er­train is out of a Kawasaki Ninja 1100,” he said. “Pretty much the only part that I can point to that is off of a car that I know of is those brake ro­tors are from a 1975 Toy­ota Cel­ica and the rear dif­fer­en­tial is out of a 1985 Toy­ota Corolla GTS.”

O’Con­nor said there is some adren­a­line and com­pe­ti­tion in­volved but the TeamWorks ini­tia­tive is re­ally about us­ing rac­ing as a so­cial out­ing for in­jured ser­vice peo­ple and first re­spon­ders and to help them gain a foothold over men­tal health chal­lenges. The race car serves as a ground­ing and ral­ly­ing point.

So far, they’ve held two track days where they’ve in­vited veter­ans’ groups to join them and O’Con­nor said the par­tic­i­pants have loved the “recre­ational ther­apy.” He said the MHPDC has been in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive of the TeamWorks ini­tia­tive and the work they do with the club can be just as re­ward­ing and en­joy­able for men and women who “just want to get out and do some­thing dif­fer­ent.”

Thanks to part­ner­ing with the MHPDC, they are able to in­vite peo­ple along for a day — or more — just to hang out or to train them to get in­volved in var­i­ous as­pects of rac­ing.

“When Mike and I started do­ing it to­gether, that was when it started be­ing about more than just go­ing rac­ing,” O’Con­nor said. “With­out hav­ing some­one else to re­ally en­joy it with, it’s just hard work.”

He said they think dif­fer­ently and see things dif­fer­ently but the two look out for each other’s well­be­ing, at the track and away from it. This sup­port can be as sim­ple as one re­mind­ing the other to drink some water or to have some­thing to eat. O’Con­nor said this has been es­sen­tial for him.

He said one of the rea­sons why they’re fo­cus­ing on in­jured veter­ans and first re­spon­ders is that they share a com­mon­al­ity. There is an op­por­tu­nity for un­der­stand­ing, even if those peo­ple are from very dif­fer­ent back­grounds. The fo­cus is on work­ing to­gether as a team, hence the name TeamWorks.

O’Con­nor and MacA­dams said they are very for­tu­nate to have fam­i­lies that are sup­port­ive of their rac­ing en­deav­ours.

All about the so­cial as­pect

MacA­dams said that the ini­tia­tive gives him some­thing to look for­ward to and it gets him out of the house. It’s all about the so­cial as­pect. He had been look­ing for some­thing to do when he met O’Con­nor by chance.

“I raced out west so that was kind of my pas­sion and I had no idea that a race track or any event or any club or any­thing ex­isted here. I thought the clos­est race track would be in Que­bec,” MacA­dams said.

Af­ter hear­ing about O’Con­nor’s in­volve­ment at the track, MacA­dams said it was a “no brainer” for him. He de­cided that this is how he wants to spend his sum­mers now.

“This is go­ing to be my fun, this is how I’m go­ing to make it through,” MacA­dams said. He said he met a great group of wel­com­ing peo­ple at the track. MacA­dams en­joys the automotive rac­ing life­style of go­ing to the race­track on the week­end, bring­ing his fam­ily along and camp­ing out.

MacA­dams, who is now re­tired from his ca­reer in the army, said he and O’Con­nor are from very dif­fer­ent mil­i­tary worlds and they wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily have been in the same so­cial group be­fore. How­ever, even though they ex­cel at dif­fer­ent as­pects, they share a love for automotive rac­ing. He said there is al­ways a task at hand and this gives you a pur­pose.

“It’s the great­est es­cape from life be­cause it’s you and the car and the race­track,” MacA­dams said. “It’s a com­pletely fo­cused ac­tiv­ity that al­lows me to not worry about all of the other stuff that’s go­ing on in my life.”

He said there’s so much that you have to think about when you’re in­side the race car that you can’t be dis­tracted by any­thing else. The fa­mil­iar­ity of the ac­tiv­ity and the height­ened men­tal fo­cus brings him hap­pi­ness.

MacA­dams said he and O’Con­nor have de­vel­oped a friend­ship through the en­deav­our and this has al­lowed them both to rec­og­nize when the other may need some help. In this re­gard, they ap­proach each other in a frank, di­rect way. “We don’t have an is­sue with ask­ing each other for help,” MacA­dams said.

“And we don’t have an is­sue turn­ing to the other per­son and telling them they need some­one’s help,” O’Con­nor said.

This year, they’ve added an­other driver with a mil­i­tary back­ground to the team, Chris Mar­riott of Hal­i­fax. O’Con­nor said they re­ally want to take this be­yond two men and a garage and would love to add more mem­bers.

O’Con­nor said he wants to be 70 years old and still haul­ing a race car to the track with a group of team­mates who share a com­mon back­ground. He wants to watch them come to­gether as a team and re­al­ize that “there’s more to their life than what they left be­hind” in their ca­reer.

“We don’t need you to be a me­chanic, we don’t need you to be a race car driver. If be­ing around that en­vi­ron­ment is some­thing you’re in­ter­ested in, and you know how to make a peanut but­ter and jam sand­wich, then you’re qual­i­fied,” O’Con­nor said.

He and MacA­dams credit the late David Peters for giv­ing them the en­cour­age­ment and con­fi­dence they needed to jump into the rac­ing en­deav­our and for help­ing them re­al­ize that the TeamWorks ini­tia­tive was what they were meant to do.

To con­tact TeamWorks Mo­tor­sports or for more in­for­ma­tion, visit the team’s Face­book page.

KIRK STARRATT

Brent O’Con­nor and Mike MacA­dams of TeamWorks Mo­tor­sports want to use car rac­ing to help first re­spon­ders and veter­ans deal­ing with op­er­a­tional stress in­juries such as Post Trau­matic Stress Dis­or­der (PTSD).

PHOTO COUR­TESY KEVIN DOUBLEDAY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

The TeamWorks race car takes turn three at At­lantic Motorsport Park in Shube­nacadie.

Kings Tran­sit’s sum­mer pass pro­gram seeks to boost rid­er­ship. Learn more in the An­napo­lis Val­ley Regis­ter and at kingscountynews.ca.

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