Family Focus: Program Makes Race Cars Accessible To Disabled Veterans

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MOORESVILLE, N.C.,None — A Mooresville racing shop is making big changes to its race cars in an effort to help local veterans bounce back after war.

Sue Roberson's shop, SMP Motorsports, has several race cars that are accessible for disabled veterans. It allows them to go on "ride-alongs" as part of a program called Manpower to Horsepower.

"This is basically all about them and what they've given," Roberson said. "We're just trying to give back."

The program caters to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, allowing them to ride shotgun around dirt tracks.

The specialized race cars have features like bigger window openings and space for wheelchairs.

Roberson said her ultimate goal is to make the shop a rehabilitation facility for veterans.

"They'll build the cars, they'll maintain the cars (and) they'll go to the track with the cars," she said.

Don Landrum, a veteran who works at the shop, said there's no better feeling than watching someone go on their first ride.

"Just the expressions on their face when they got out of the car -- it really made it feel like you were giving back to the veterans," Landrum said. "You know they were so excited."

Roberson said the program is all about bringing veterans back into the community.

"(The purpose is) to basically help the veterans themselves, help teach us things that we don't know," she said. "Maintain these cars, give them a reason to get up every morning and work on these cars."

The goal for 2010 is to provide the experience at 48 events throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, Roberson said, adding that she wants to take the program nationwide.

For more information about Manpower to Horsepower, click here.