Manpower to Horsepower
Manpower to Horsepower (MP2HP) is a nonprofit organization, based in Salisbury NC, founded in 2010 to help veterans suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries negotiate the challenging transition from military service to civilian life.
MP2HP offers a hands-on training and rehabilitation program based on motorsport management, automotive mechanics and custom bodywork to at risk post combat veterans. The goal is to provide these veterans with employable skills in a supportive and constructive environment where they may begin to recover from their injuries. MP2HP takes an unconventional approach to education because many of their veterans reject traditional college classroom settings where they often feel like outsiders -- they are older and they have seen and done things a typical teenage student cannot really understand. Instead classes are held in the MP2HP Race Shop and at racetracks where students learn the finer points of automotive mechanics and custom bodywork by restoring and repairing cars used for dirt track racing.
At MP2HP, veterans work with other soldiers who have shared similar combat experiences and who are also struggling to resume the lives they left behind. The Race Shop environment offers refuge where veterans can enjoy the teamwork
and camaraderie they experienced while they were deployed. The students spend time together each day, and it is not uncommon to see some number of them at the Race Shop after hours or on weekends with their families.
MP2HP is the brainchild of Sue Roberson, a North Carolina native and racecar devotee, and her husband, Matt Young. Together they designed and built a racecar that enabled disabled vets, previously relegated to the sidelines, to take to the track. After that, it was just one short step to the MP2HP racecar program. Sue’s amazing generosity of spirit and compassion does not preclude her from running the school like a boot camp: the rules are tough and compliance is non-negotiable. She is part-time mother, part-time drill sergeant, and full-time advocate.
The MP2HP environment offers equal measures of tough love, hands-on training and ongoing emotional support, and it is here that many of our nation’s most deserving, unable to find solace elsewhere, are finding their way forward.