Erik Hartley and Evil Hours Racing are raising awareness for post-traumatic stress through the very thing that saved him – motorcycle racing
Words Joy Burgess
Photos courtesy Sammy Sabedra and Evil Hours Racing
Erik Hartley – the founder of Evil Hours Racing – has intimate experience with post-traumatic stress. It all goes back to Afghanistan in 2010 when he was deployed as an aircraft mechanic on a C-130 aircraft.
“I saw the various sides of war,” Hartley said, “I’d see the Rangers before we flew them to hell and then I’d see them upon their return. Their eyes haunt me to this day. I’d see casket draped in stars and stripes headed home to distant mothers and fathers, and I’d see and hear bombs exploding in the mountains surrounding the airfield.”
“But,” he continues, “none of this compared to the ‘evil hours.’ For most Afghans kite flying is part of their national identity – it’s been that way for generations until the Taliban banned the sport. When I got to Afghanistan, I noticed kites flying from time to time, and I saw this as a sign of the country returning, in part, to its pre-Taliban way of life. But then a pattern began to form. When the kites went up, rockets would follow. And my naivety turned to anxiety and panic – they were using those kites to judge the wind for rockets and mortars. We started to call the time in between ‘the evil hours.’”
As so many other veterans have, Hartley fought a second war at home – a war with post-traumatic stress. “War is an indescribable experience,” he said. “I’ve traveled the world trying to escape it, grasping at straws to distance myself from it. But a random trip to the Springfield Mile and seeing motorcycles go around a dirt oval at speed finally brought me home. Flat track racing brought me the family I needed and a sense of belonging that brought me out of my shell.”
According to Hartley, the motorcycle community saved him – a feeling that many others share and understand. And now he’s hoping to help others fighting post-traumatic stress in the same way. Evil Hours racing is more than just a racing brand; it’s a non-profit organization with the primary goals of raising awareness and providing help to others who deal with post-traumatic stress. Evil Hours Racing focuses on helping low income veterans afford therapy and plans to hold an annual all-expenses-paid Flat Track motorcycle racing training school for those with post-traumatic stress.
The month of June is PTDS awareness month, and Hartley and Evil Hours Racing are doing a big drive to raise money to pay for an entire year’s worth of therapy for someone with post-traumatic stress, ensuring someone who needs therapy is taken care of for an entire year. Along the way, Evil Hours will be racing in the Extreme Flat Track Series, multiple Steve Nace races, and sponsoring both Blake Lomas and Jeffrey Carver in American Flat Track competition.
Since Evil Hours Racing has nonprofit 501c3 tax exempt status, all donations made are tax deductible. And your donation is a great way to help those suffering from post-traumatic stress find healing and family in the motorcycle community – a place so many of us are proud to call “home.”
If you’d like to help, visit: https://client.customdonations.com/securepay/evilhours/
You can follow on Instagram and Facebook: @evilhoursracing