In summer 2021, word emerged from the Skip Barber Racing School that U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Dustin Burkhalter, a combat veteran wounded and released from service, had joined the expansive SBRS SRO TC America effort.
An intern of sorts, Sgt. Burkhalter would help guide the Barber principals in the needed specialty tools and reworked procedures, pushing him toward a full-time position in motorsports — not the first step, but a major one for SBRS owners Anthony and Dan DeMonte, whose New York family had a rich background in military and public service.
Veterans leaving active military, many of them injured, as well as first responders who served so bravely through the early months of the COVID pandemic, were much on the hearts and minds of the DeMonte SBRS team. Today, counting Burkalter and police officer-turned-instructor Dan Donza, there are now seven former military, fire, police and EMT personnel on the SBRS employee roster.
Likely, there will soon be more. With “safety and service” core tenets of the DeMonte brothers’ — and SBRS’s — philosophy, additional investments were made, and spring 2022 brought two key announcements: a new SBRS joint effort with Resilience Racing and a charity relationship with the joint US- and Canada-based Operation Motorsport.
The former is a race team designed to highlight the strength of and provide a platform for our nation’s elite military and disabled veterans to compete and excel in amateur motorsports. As put together by a quintet of combat veterans, the Resilience Racing mission of building endurance racing drivers and crewmen will get a boost from the experience of the Skip Barber team.
Operation Motorsport is a veteran-led and -operated 501(c)(3) nonprofit also serving veterans, with a focus on engaging ill and injured service men and women and, through motorsports, aiding in their rehab and recovery. The Skip Barber Racing School will become the U.S. branch of the Operation Motorsport Academy Driver Development Program, as OpMo becomes an official SBRS charity.
“Skip Barber Racing was a natural fit [for us],” says Tiffany Lodder, Executive Director of Operation Motorsports. “I watched how the crew works together in the paddock and the pits. I watched how they treated [Sgt. Burkhalter], who was a new beneficiary. “The SBRS team gets it, [as] evidenced by how many veterans they currently employ. Everyone wants to give back, and Skip Barber Racing School is making it happen with this partnership.”
Both the Resilience Racing and Operation Motorsports missions “perfectly align with Skip Barber Racing’s position as the gateway to motorsports,” notes SBRS CEO Anthony DeMonte. “And we are deeply honored to provide those who have served with a pathway to a career in motorsports.”
For more information, head to SkipBarber.com.