Photo: Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross

Special Operations Warrior Foundation graces Speed’s car this weekend

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This weekend, the Red Bull Global Rallycross series goes to The Base at MCAS New River this weekend and it’ll have a heavy military vibe.

Scott Speed’s No. 41 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle will have a special livery this weekend for that, with Special Operations Warrior Foundation gracing the car.

The team release is below:

Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross (VARX) is proud to announce its partnership with the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a top-rated nonprofit organization that provides support and assistance to the families of fallen and wounded military special operations personnel.

Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF), provides post-secondary scholarship grants, educational counseling and professional tutoring services to the surviving children of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations service members who lose their lives in the line of duty. The top-rated nonprofit organization will be featured on the No. 41 Volkswagen Beetle GRC driven by 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross series champion, Scott Speed, for two race weekends, The Base, July 2-3, and Washington, DC, on July 30.

“It’s truly an honor to welcome the Special Operations Warrior Foundation into our racing family this season,” said team owner Michael Andretti. “The Foundation provides so much to so many – we are incredibly grateful to have them as part of the program. We hope that this is a relationship that we can continue to build on and support.”

Since 1980, over 900 Special Operations service members have lost their lives in service to our country. SOWF is dedicated to providing scholarship grants, not loans, to over 1,100 children who have survived these heroes. Special Operations Warrior Foundation has 143 students enrolled in colleges and universities across the country. Last year, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation provided $7.8 million in scholarship grants, academic, financial aid and family support services to the families of fallen special operations service members.

“We are so thankful to the Andretti family and the Andretti Rallycross team for this heartwarming support to the surviving children and military families we serve,” said Steven McLeary, SOWF Executive Director. “It is our honor to partner with the Andretti team and we appreciate the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the families who have suffered a great loss.”

The VARX team kicked off their 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross championship season with a podium sweep during Rounds 1 and 2 in Phoenix, a third-place finish in Dallas during Round 3 of the championship and most recently, Tanner Foust and Scott Speed walked away with a 1-2 finish at Daytona International Speedway. Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross will be back in action for another doubleheader weekend at MCAS New River on July 2 and 3. Each race will air LIVE on NBC—Saturday, July 2 at 5 p.m. (ET) for Round 6, and Sunday, July 3 at 5 p.m. (ET) for Round 7.

Oliver Askew: ‘I was starting to lose confidence’ after ‘hardest hit I’ve had’

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Oliver Askew knew something was medically wrong in the days after concussion-like symptoms began from “the hardest hit I’ve ever had” in the Indianapolis 500. He’d been evaluated and cleared to race after the Aug. 23 crash, but he just didn’t feel right.

The IndyCar rookie told The Associated Press on Thursday he has been experiencing dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritability, headaches and confusion since he crashed in the Aug. 23 race. He continued to race in four more events as he tried to “play through it” until friends and family encouraged him to seek medical treatment.

He since has been diagnosed with a concussion and is working on a recovery plan with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s sports medicine concussion program, the same place NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. received care after concussions in 2012 and ’16. Askew will not compete in next weekend’s doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis, and Arrow McLaren SP will put three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Chevrolet.

“This is all I’ve worked for,” the 23-year-old told AP. “I don’t come from money, and I’ve worked my way up and have finally gotten my shot in a good car. And then all of a sudden, the results just weren’t there in a car I knew should be performing. And I just didn’t feel like myself, you know?

“So initially I felt like I needed to stay in the car and continue to improve. And then I didn’t feel like I could do that with my condition and what was going on. I was starting to lose confidence in myself.”

Earnhardt praised Askew for going to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Micky Collins.

“Oliver is in the best hands when it comes to taking care of this problem and getting back on the racetrack. It was very smart of him to get in front of Micky so that he could understand the seriousness of the situation and begin the process of getting well,” Earnhardt said. “You can absolutely heal from this but not without taking the step of getting help. Often that’s the most difficult step.”

Athletes often hide injuries to continue competing, and even Earnhardt admittedly masked concussions during his driving career. Askew didn’t know what was wrong with him but was frightened to get out of the car.

He is a paid driver who brings no sponsorship money to the team (but did bring a $1 million scholarship for winning last year’s Indy Lights championship), and owner Sam Schmidt holds the option on his contract.

As he tried to race on, his performance suffered. Askew had finished third and sixth at Iowa — the previous two races before Indianapolis. After the crash, he was part of a multicar accident the next week at Gateway and has not finished higher than 14th in the four races since Indy.

A year after winning seven Indy Lights races, Askew has fallen from 12th to 18th in the standings and slipped considerably off the pace. He said he struggled in team debriefs, had difficulty giving feedback and has gone through a personality change that was noticeable to those close to Askew.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which represents Askew and was among those who pushed the driver to see a doctor, noted Arrow McLaren SP did not reveal that Askew was suffering from a concussion in its Thursday announcement he would miss next week’s race.

“Oliver clearly demonstrated his talent until Lap 91 of the Indianapolis 500, and I hope this does not become another case study of why athletes do not tell their teams they are injured,” said agent Jeff Dickerson. “The reason they do that is because more often times than not they are replaced. In motorsports, there is always somebody to replace you, and whether it was Dale Jr. or Oliver Askew, there is always another driver available.

“I hope this is not a barrier to progress for other drivers — especially young drivers afraid of losing their job — to notify their teams they are hurt. I hope the team proves me wrong because the good news is, the kid has had a head injury for the past month and has still run 14th in IndyCar.”

After finally seeking medical treatment, Askew said he was relieved to learn there was something wrong. He said doctors told him the injury has a “100% recovery rate” and he believes he will be able to race in the IndyCar season finale next month at St. Petersburg. He’s been rehabilitating with exercises and tasks that strain the brain such as deliberately going to grocery stores and the airport.

“Honestly, you know, if I had not gone to see medical professionals I would probably stay in the car,” Askew said. “But now after hearing what’s wrong and that it could get worse, God forbid I have another hit, I know I did the right thing. I think I can be an example for young drivers now in stepping up and saying something is wrong, I need to have this checked out.”