A Letter From Our Rider:
Dear Family & Friends:
The idea for ‘The Mark Hodel Veteran’s Foundation’ (Standforvets.org) was originated because the 50th anniversary of the 2018 Baja 1000 off road race was being held only four months before the 50th anniversary of my brother’s sacrifice in Vietnam. At 56 years old, I would be one of the oldest men to attempt to solo this race which that year was a point to point distance of 1,138 miles. As life often does, things do not always go the way we expect and six weeks before the race, while training in the desert, I experienced a dirt bike accident that shattered my collarbone and deeply bruised my ribs. After surgery and rehabilitation, I started the race at 1:00am on November 16th, but 17 hours and 538 miles later, I could go no further…I was done. The surgery, loss of training and inability to pre-run had taken its toll. But as we also know about life, what seems a failure can often provide tremendous opportunities.
March 31, 2018, I was privileged to be in Vietnam, along with a brother, sister and daughter of three of the men who died with my brother that day in 1968. Rick King organized this event, as he was the man who was present when my brother and the others were killed, and was the last man to physically handle my brother’s remains. There we were, standing on the exact ground where 50 years earlier, these brave men lost their lives as part of a mortar team, defending their camp. What a powerful moment that will never be forgotten.
Just previous to that trip, I had made the decision to finish what I started, and attempt to solo the Baja 1000 once more. Our veterans do not quit and neither would I. A documentary writer/director heard about the story and decided to create a full length documentary movie covering the 2018 Baja 1000 along with my story as the gold star brother and several other combat veterans who will also be racing. The documentary will highlight the struggles veterans have in coming back, in finding solace in reconnection with others, the adrenaline of racing in Mexico and the healing that takes place in these activities and relationships. The goal will be to premier the film on Veteran’s Day 2019, one week prior to the Baja 1000. Perfect timing.
God willing, I will be accident-free and the story will be one of success in finishing this brutal race of endurance. It will include the making of a film that will educate the public about those who serve for this country and come back a different person than the one that went in. A film that will be uplifting and motivating…something this country needs. If that takes place, then the pain and delay will be well worth it. Join us in the journey and let’s see how this turns out together.
With Profound Gratitude,
President, Stand for Vets / The Mark Hodel Veteran’s Foundation