Oceanside, CA. When the vintage Flyer One military buggy leaves the start line for the Mexican 1000 in Ensenada, it will be raced and chased by a team of wounded warriors and disabled veterans. The team is led by retired Navy Rear Admiral, Mike Shatynski, an experienced off road racer. Team members are Navy and Marine Corps veterans of wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan and are racing under the banner of Navy Offroad.
According to Admiral Mike, “Off road racing is the closest thing that I can find in civilian life to a military deployment. The Mexican 1000 reminds us that desert racers are family and wounded warriors and disabled vets belong in our family.” The span of life experiences by the team members is extraordinary whether in the desert or at home and all have something to give to each other.
Team co-driver George, a combat wounded Marine, missed the first two Mexican 1000 races while deployed to Vietnam and didn’t miss another one for over 30 years. Admiral Mike refers to George and the team’s lead chase driver Charlie, a retired UDT Frogman and Vietnam vet, as his heroes. “Their generation of American warrior gave all to our country, yet asked for nothing in return. I am so proud that they are coming out of retirement to mentor their teammates.” Team co-driver Cody, another combat wounded Marine and the team’s youngest member, proved a natural at off-road racing while driving a UTV for sister team, Warrior Strong Race Team. He noted, “I have so much to learn from veterans like George.”
The team has been busy restoring and preparing the historic Flyer One buggy, a 20-year old military off-road buggy originally built by North American Race Company (RACECO), now known as Flyer Defense. Flyer One has a great legacy since she is the “grandmother” of the off-road vehicle just selected by US Special Operations Command or SOCOM to replace their fleet of HMMWV’s. Flyer One is up to the Mexican 1000 challenge since she was built with the best off-road racing technology of her era.
The team has partnered with a charity, Racing4Vets, whose mission aligns perfectly with Navy Offroad. Team co-driver Tim, a retired Navy SEAL, noted that “wounded warriors and disabled vets racing together is not about ‘raising awareness’, it is about teamwork and supporting each other whether prepping, chasing, or driving, and through any life challenges.” The team is deeply grateful to their sponsors including Flyer Defense, Fox Shocks, BDS Suspensions, Mastercraft, Baja Designs, Rugged Radios, Harmon Racing Cells, Joe Hauler, and especially the people who donated to Racing4Vets.
To learn more about Navy Offroad or Warrior Strong Race Team, check out their Facebook pages or go to www.racing4vets.org/navy-offroad. Like us on Facebook and Twitter. Admiral Mike has been keeping a blog regarding team and vehicle preparations for the race on the Vintage Racing forum at race-dezert.com entitled “Flyer One Rebuild for NORRA Mexican 1000”. http://www.race-dezert.com/forum/threads/flyer-one-rebuild-for-norra-2015-mexican-1000.119985/
|Mike Shatynski, RADM, U.S. Navy (Ret.) aka “Admiral Mike” Mike Shatynski, from Oceanside, CA is a retired service-disabled U.S. Navy Rear Admiral with 33 years of service. Mike grew up in Southern California and his passion over the past 30 years has been off-road racing. He has raced in twenty 500 and 1000 mile races in the Baja peninsula. Mike has finished 1st or 2nd in his last eight races.|
|Tim King, CWO SEAL, U.S. Navy (Ret.) Tim King is a retired service-disabled U.S. Navy SEAL with 27 years of service. Tim built on his military expertise in “ground mobility” by entering and winning his first off road race, the infamous Mexican 1000, in 2012. Tim is also an enthusiastic and experienced recreational family off-roader.|
|George Erl, SGT, USMC George Erl is a combat-wounded Marine who missed the first two Baja 1000s because he was deployed to Vietnam. George did not miss another Baja 1000 for almost 3 decades and has earned numerous class wins. George has come out of racing retirement to bring a wealth of experience and knowledge as Navy Offroad’s senior mentor.|
|Cody Elliot, CPL, USMC Cody Elliot is a combat-wounded Marine and the youngest member of the team. Since leaving the service, Cody joined a race team of wounded warriors and proved to be a capable and competitive off-road driver by winning his first UTV race in the WORCS series.|