GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Rick Proctor

Tuesday Toolbox: Rick Proctor

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 | 3:00 PM
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 | 3:00 PM

Rick Proctor has become familiar face in the GNCC Racing world with the popular Vigilant Vet Racing to introduce other Military veterans to the racing world. With the program still going strong, we caught up with Rick to hear more. Good morning Rick! Have you recovered from the Limestone 100 yet?
Rick Proctor: I think so! Man, I was out there for 2 hours and 45 minutes. That’s a long time on an ATV.

Yes it is! That was pretty nasty for you ATV guys on Saturday.
Yeah, but we are getting mid-season and I’m not as sore as I thought I would be. Everyone is riding their way into shape, so that’s good!

So what is your background? What were you doing before coming to all the GNCCs and establishing Vigilant Vet Racing?
I’ve always been around ATVs, street bikes and dirt bikes. I rode my first four-wheeler when I was 7 years old and been hooked ever since although, I never really raced. I just rode and always had a good time. I joined the Army in 1996 and went active duty. When I finished my active duty in 1998, I changed my MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) to combat medic and went into the National Guard. I was called up to active status in 2004 and sent to Iraq.

Wow. That’s a definite change of pace. How long were you “boots on the ground?”
My unit was over there almost a year. Initially we were providing convoy security, but my last few months we pulled a detail to protect the interim Prime Minister. Those months were intense, but fun.

Rick founded Vigilant Vet Racing in 2013 to introduce veterans to the racing world.
Rick founded Vigilant Vet Racing in 2013 to introduce veterans to the racing world. Photo: Ken Hill

Sounds like you had a unique perspective that we in America didn’t get from the evening news! Thank you so much for your service!
Thanks for yours, and to anyone else that served! Peacetime, wartime, it takes a military to keep this country safe!

Amen to that! So what prompted racing? You came back to the USA, and what happened?
Everything was different. I’m not sure that I can explain it. I’ve always been a sports fan. I had season tickets to WVU football games, went to Steelers football games, Penguins hockey, but when I came back, I found that I couldn’t enjoy those events. I couldn’t relax at the games. It always felt like the crowds were pressing in on me, it was suffocating. Classic signs of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I just quit going. In 2011, I was working for the Department of Veteran Affairs and a co-worker asked me to come to an off-road race here in Taylor County West Virginia and watch his son race ATVs. I told him no but he assured me that the crowds weren’t in a confined space, they were spread out and so I agreed to go. I had an absolute blast! Two weeks later, I bought my first ATV in years. I started riding again, then started attending local races and competing. It was liberating, actually!

So what brought you to GNCC?
Some friends and I decided to come to Powerline Park in 2012. I live in West Virginia not far from Racer Productions. So, the drive wasn’t bad and it was a national level race, I had the best time! I immediately recognized the family atmosphere, the friendliness of everyone out there. The track was demanding, but fun. In short, I felt right at home.

After a friend talked Rick into coming to watch a race, he was hooked and began racing soon after.
After a friend talked Rick into coming to watch a race, he was hooked and began racing soon after. Photo: Ken Hill

So, I know you as “The guy who set up Vigilant Vet Racing!” How did that come about?
We incorporated in the state of West Virginia as a non-profit organization on May 1, 2013. This racing thing had worked so well for me. I felt like this was the best kept secret and wanted to involve other veterans who struggled with PTSD. There were already several other vets racing, and it wasn’t just the “letting loose” and having fun that was helpful. The weeks in between races, the prep, anticipation, it gave me something to look forward to. Racing is therapeutic. Crowds aren’t a problem for me anymore.

I can certainly attest to that! You were part of the GNCC school visit program last week and there were over 300 kids yelling and screaming, they were fired up! I had no idea that you once struggled with crowds. There you were, IN FRONT of a crowd, talking to them about GNCC Racing!
I love that school visit program. Our youth are so important, and the message that we take to them about teamwork and respecting one another, it’s a privilege to be a part of it. Yes! A few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.

So what exactly does Vigilant Vet Racing do?
Our mission is to raise awareness of PTSD and veteran suicide, which sadly claims 22 vets per day. We want our brothers-in-arms to know that there is hope for them. This worked for me, every person is different, maybe it doesn’t help someone, but we have 20 vets on our team right now. Sam Lamp and Richard Little are VVR's Team Captain and Assistant Team Captain, respectively. VVR is strictly a not-for-profit organization. Every penny that we raise goes toward our mission. For example, our main focus right now is creating a better display for our location on Vendor's Row that provides information about PTSD, Veteran Suicide, Team VVR and our organization. 

Vigilant Vet Racing currently has 20 veterans riding as part of the team!
Vigilant Vet Racing currently has 20 veterans riding as part of the team! Photo: Ken Hill

How can we help? I know you set up ion Vendor Row. Do you have t-shirts for sale? Stickers?
Yeah, we just had some hats made up. We do have t-shirts and stickers too. We ask for donations. Actually, what I’d really like to see is some stickers on vehicles. Let our vets know that we love them and support them.

Rick, we can make that happen! The GNCC Racin’ Nation supports our troops, so make sure you have enough stickers at the Tomahawk in NY!
Well, things are a little tight. We have yet to make a full season of 13 races and I don’t think the trailer is going to make it to NY.

No problem! The Mountaineer Run is your hometown local race. We’ll see you there. I’m personally getting a hat and stickers for my dirt bike if that’s ok! You do let dirt bikers run your stickers? And, I’ll need some stickers for my hauler as well!
Yes, of course dirt bikers can run our stickers! We have 18 ATV guys on our team, 2 UTV guys, and spreading the word through the dirt bike camp is the next logical step. We’re excited for the Mountaineer Run. I’ll be ready!

Fantastic! Who would you like to thank?
So many people. Tim Cotter was instrumental in getting us set up. The Coombs family, Racer Productions, the GNCC Racing Nation, Lone Star Racing, ITP, 100%, FLY Racing, Waynesburg Yamaha, Fasst Company, Powermadd, Evans Coolant, VP Fuel, Winner's Choice, Race Awards and Spider Graphix.