Freedom Behind the Wheel, Getting Veterans Back on Track!

Freedom Behind the Wheel, Getting Veterans Back on Track!

For veterans returning home from the war, it can be a difficult to adjust to activities that they used to enjoy. Racing a car can be one of them if a veteran happens to sustain injuries that makes them paraplegic. That's where the great people behind Freedom Behind the Wheel come in.

Started by Ryan Downey and his father Brian Downey the non-profit organization aims to get troops back on track, literally. Freedom Behind the Wheel operates a safe and secure environment where paraplegic veterans can utilize specially built and custom hand-controls for precision race car driving.

Ryan got the idea to start Freedom Behind the Wheel when while assisting a paraplegic veteran in the art of Drifting. He saw that there was a big gap in what was being offered in race cars and vehicles at the time, so him and his dad decided to use their racing experience and vast technical knowledge to build and fabricate something better. The result is a highly modified race cars with specially built hand controls that the Downey's and volunteers put a lot of heart and soul into.

The Downey's have a strong racing and mechanical background and it shows through their passion for helping veterans with Freedom Behind the Wheel. Ryan is a graduate of Ohio Technical College and and grew up working in his father's auto repair shops. Ryan has always loved the mechanical aspect of cars but has always been more interested in designing and fabricating new and innovative vehicles. This lead him to participate in the division Championship at Drift Nirvana, and win.

Brian has over 35-years of experience working on cars and is ASE-Certified. In that time he has managed two successful auto repair shops. Brian has also participated in Endurance Auto Crossing, Drag Racing, Drifting, and many other forms of Road Racing. He was won numerous titles and even placed in the Sports Car Club of America's (SCCA) National Runoffs several times. He has also worked as a racing instructor at many different tracks and race car events.

Both Ryan and Brian are now helping instruct and get veterans “back on the track” and enjoy racing activities and are happy to do so. Freedom Behind the Wheel offers programs in Drifting, Auto Cross, Drag Racing and various forms of motor sports.

For those of use who want to experience the feeling of using the Downey's custom hand controls, without the worrying of wrekcing a car, you are in luck. At the shop they have a virtual simulator so you can test out what it feels like to drive a car using only your hands. It looks a lot like playing Gran Turismo only more modified and there are 3 screens. I tried the virtual race simulator at the Washington Auto Show last year and it was quite fun. I thought I was not that good at using the custom hand controls but I was assued, “No, you are actually pretty good at it!” At least I know I can drive a race car with only my hands, which might come in handy someday.

Freedom Behind the Wheel received a substantial tool donation from Cornwell Tools in the form of tool and toolboxes which helps maintain the vehicles and keep the program running.

With the Downey's help paraplegic veterans can now regain their Freedom Behind the Wheel and enjoy life without limits. To find out more about the program visit their Facebook page.

Top Gear UK vs. Top Gear USA: Which Top Gear is Better?

top gear
Top Gear

If you love cars as much as I do, you inevitably love Top Gear. If you don't know what Top Gear is, I can sum up the the TV show for you like this, “The greatest thing EVER!”

Top Gear shows you what happens when you let loose three crazed automotive journalists and give them an unlimited budget to do what they want with cars. The three hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond get into wacky situations during each episode. They engage in antics such as driving to the North Pole, crossing the English Channel in homemade amphibious vehicles, and trying to prove British Leyland built good cars, just a few situations the three hosts get into during an episode. Top Gear goes boldly where no other TV show goes. It also answers the question of what every man would do if he could remain a kid forever.

Top Gear UK is an immensely popular TV show. I am not the only one who thinks so, as the original British Top Gear has an estimated global audience of 350 million people in 170 different countries every week.  (According to Wikipedia!) 

Americans like to copy good British TV shows. The Office, American Idol, Survivor, Big Brother, etc. were all British TV shows first. Now you can add Top Gear to that list. The History channel now broadcasts an American version of Top Gear with Rutledge Wood, Adam Ferrara, and Tanner Foust. Top Gear USA follows the same format as the original Top Gear, with the three hosts reviewing cars, getting into crazy situations, having celebrities on the show, etc.

The fact that Top Gear USA is still on TV probably makes diehard fans of the original British version groan with pain. The first time I watched an episode of Top Gear USA I didn't like it. This might be because the hosts are not nearly as witty and entertaining and majority of the segments seem to be carbon copies of the original.

Brits, it seems, are just better at making good TV than “Stupid Americans” as Europeans might call us. It makes we wonder if there will be an Americanized version of Downton Abbey. (At least we make great action movies with lots of explosions!)

I may have my own opinions about Top Gear USA. However, I'd like to hear from my readers on which you prefer.

I have compiled these videos for a heads-up challenge, Top Gear UK vs Top Gear USA. Which do you think is better? Watch the videos and decide for yourself. Leave a comment below and share your opinions.

TRAILER 

SKIERS VS. CAR

Top Gear USA – Mitsubishi Evo X by cjrobe0

VIDEO GAME VS. REAL TRACK

Top Gear -NSX @ Laguna Seca

CELEBRITY APPEARANCES

CAR REVIEW

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Carlisle Peformance & Style, May 14-15

Get ready for another great Carlisle event! Carlisle Performance & Style is not just about cool and fast cars, it's a whole lifestyle event. You will find lots of tuned up cars, mini-trucks, VIP sedans, sport compacts, and modern muscle cars. The latest and greatest in car trends will be on display. Including all the cool cars they will have music, stunt shows, judged car competitions, bikini models, a model search, Miss carlisle performance & style, autocross & drift events, rc drifting, a burnout, competition, and so much more! Vaugh Gittin Jr. (Formula D, 2010 Drifting Champion) will be at the event to show off his drifting skills and meet with fans. The Starboyz sport bike group will be there as well to show off their crazy motorcycling riding skills. Stop by for the Raretoy Girls Bikini Car Wash, which will benefit the The Humane Society of Harrisburg. So if you are free this weekend… why not go?

Carlisle Performance & Style
1000 Bryn Mawr Road
Carlisle, PA 170

*Carlisle is only about a 1 hour and-a-half drive from Baltimore.

May 14 – 15 (Saturday – Sunday)

Adult Admission: Sat. $20 /Sun. $15 / 2-Day Pass $25
Child Admission: 8 and under – FREE
Gate Times: Saturday 9am-10pm / Sunday 9am-5pm

For more info visit: http://www.carlisleevents.com/ce/events/performance-style/