As the digital green flag drops, one organization is using iRacing to make a positive impact on our nation’s heroes one virtual lap at a time.
iRacing continues to be a revolutionary platform, giving drivers and racing enthusiast the most realistic in-car experience possible. The non-profit organization Goat Locker Racing (GLR) is driven to take this experience to veteran’s and first responders.
For GLR co-founders Patrick Drabick and Jamie Barcus, they found their passion for motorsport gaming with Papyrus’ release NASCAR Racing 2 in 1996. Two years later, Barcus would attend his first race with Drabick where their love of racing would grow.
“You can’t beat the experience. The smell, I mean, when cars fire up and you get that smell from the fuel burning off, I mean that’s happiness,” Drabick shared.
They eventually joined a small motorsports gaming league consisting of veterans. There, they felt the impact firsthand of what a group like this could provide our nation’s heroes. The pair then decided they could take this idea turn it into something bigger.
“You belong as a part of these organizations that you feel like they are bigger than you, you’re serving something, a bigger cause. And you want to continue that past your service,” Drabick said. “So you find these different and unique ways to do it. And I think the racing community does it very, very well. It’s a very tight knit community that looks out for each other, that really cares for one another. And once you’re in, you’re in, and it is really awesome to see. And it’s awesome to see how the values of the two communities line up so well together.”
When those communities came together through Goat Locker Racing’s efforts, the impact was outstanding.
“We saw through what we were doing, and bringing these veterans and first responders in how much it helped. How much they were able to come and be a part of what we were doing and just find some relief and some therapy, what we like to call ‘speed therapy’,” Drabick noticed the faces of these veterans light up when taking spin on the virtual track. “They could sit, they could sit behind their their simulation rig they can get out here. I mean, we talk a bunch of trash, just like a bunch of racecar drivers. And we have a lot of fun.
After a combined 44 years of service in the Navy, both co-founders understand the importance of building these communities for first responders and veterans while they face battles of their own.
“We know one of the biggest problems with mental health and struggles with PTSD and even struggles with addiction isn’t that veterans and first responders can’t get medical care and things along those lines” Drabick explains, “The problem is when they’re sitting at home alone, and their thoughts and their feelings and all that stuff catches up. They need a hobby, they need to belong to something.”
When joining Goat Locker Racing, veterans and first responders can expect a warm welcome and guidance as they begin their sim racing careers.
Darbick, Barcus and other organization members take the time to teach incoming members the ropes and how to race in a simulation setup. From there, racers can join one of the many series that GLR provides at various skill levels.
Those new to the group will start their careers in GLR’s ARCA series sponsored by the Veterans for Life Foundation. This development series is geared towards helping newcomers learn the ropes. Helping them along the way is other racers in the group along with YouTube influencer, DJ Yee-J.
The non-profit also hosts an Xfinity Series, sponsored by Right Now Roofing, and a Next Gen Series, sponsored by Cruising Classics. But their premiere series is the Truck Series supported by long time sponsor Jam Printing and Promotion.
“That series is gonna run on Friday nights now,” Barcus shares. “There’s no gimmies. There’ll be no fast repairs. It’s highly competitive.”
Beyond providing our Nation’s Warriors and First Responders a community to belong to, Goat Locker Racing is also committed to providing these heroes with sim racing equipment so they race against their peers without the monetary burden sim racing equipment can provide.
“We’ve talked about wanting to give away these sim racing setups at $2,500 apiece. We’ve got a goal this year of actually being able to do at least six of those,” a goal Darbick believes they can exceed with the help of their sponsors and supporters.
That is not the only goal the non-profit has for 2024. Though they hope to provide their community with equipment of their own, they also want to take their organization on the go.
“We’re gonna have a mobile simulator, one that’s going to be in a rap trailer that we’re gonna be able to take to events, to different shows to different racetracks, you know, all those different types of things to show people what we’re doing, and also to allow people to experience what it’s all about,” Darbick shares. “I think there are a lot of NASCAR fans out there. And racing fans don’t really know what simulation racing is all about. But I think if you could really introduce it into it. They’d be like, holy smokes. This is amazing. And it’s another way to connect with the sport.”
As the organization continues to grow their programs, their positive impact on the program is growing stronger than ever.
“The amount of messages we get is just, it’s humbling. It’s very, very humbling,” Darbick said. “‘Thanks for what you guys are doing’. ‘Thanks for allowing me to escape for a couple hours a day just to come be around a bunch of people that know what I’m going through and be able to get out on track and compete’. So the community is growing, it’s strong.”
To learn more about Goat Locker Racing’s league schedules and to donate, click here.