True Heroes Racing is the UK’s first and only motorcycle race team for injured UK Service personnel.
Formed in 2012 by a serving member of the Royal Navy, Warrant Officer Phil Spencer, who wanted to offer opportunities for Wounded, Injured and Sick UK Service personnel to become directly involved in motorcycle racing (either as mechanics, riders or logistical support) as a way of regaining a focus and sense of direction during and after their rehabilitation; but also proving to themselves, as much as the wider audience, that their life-changing injuries do not have to be life limiting and restrict the activities they can partake in.
True Heroes Racing enables injured riders to race specially adapted motorcycles, modified and maintained by injured mechanics.
The organization also invites and hosts members of the Armed Forces, from local rehabilitation units and military establishments, to join them as their guests, track-side at various rounds of the British Superbike Championships where the team are competing.
This outlet hopefully provides rehabilitation support to injured personnel, enabling them to get up close to the modified motorcycles, experience just what is still possible and enjoy the high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled world of superbike racing.
This ethos was clearly borne out in a short documentary that was recently filmed about the team by Channel 4 and can be seen here...
Channel 4 feature about True Heroes Racing
After forming in early 2012 the team’s first challenge was to obtain a race licence from the Auto Cycle Union (ACU) for the UK’s first double amputee motorcycle racer, L/Cpl Murray Hambro.
Murray was serving with the Second Royal Tank Regiment in Afghanistan on the 9th December 2010, when the vehicle he was commanding triggered a large pressure plate IED.
The force of the blast propelled Murray 40ft out of the turret of the vehicle, suffering extensive injuries including; broken pelvis, ripped liver and spleen, 6 fractured vertebrae and severely broken bones in both feet.
He was immediately Med Evac’d back to Camp Bastion, stabilised and then air-lifted back to the UK.
He felt relief when told by his consultant in Birmingham Hospital that he’d fractured both feet, but this feeling was short lived. He and his consultant had very different ideas on the definition of fractured!
Murray thought a bit of plaster and he’d be up and about again in no time, but the consultant said, “The right one has got to come off. We could try to rebuild the left, but you’ll be in and out of hospital for up to three years, and the end result could be you lose it anyway.”
36 hours after arriving in the UK Murray was a double amputee facing an uncertain future.
4 months after his amputation, still undergoing extensive medical rehabilitation, Murray met Royal Navy sailor, Phil Spencer.
Phil was taken aback by Murray’s story and passion for motorcycles, but wasn’t comfortable with his plans to learn to ride again on the public roads.
Meeting again later that same year, Phil enquired about Murray’s progress and suggested they go to the track instead.
From riding in the relative safety of organised track days, very quickly Phil developed the concept of forming an injured Serviceman’s motorcycle race team and in early 2012 Phil formed True Heroes Racing.
After some hard lobbying the team secured Murray his novice race licence and on 1st September 2012 True Heroes Racing competed in their first ever race with a specially adapted Triumph Daytona motorcycle and an injured support crew.
Successfully completing their first race was not enough; Phil’s aim was to take True Heroes Racing to the top level in the UK.
Over the coming months the team developed their adapted motorcycle, overcame new issues and competed at club races all over the UK, Rule Books were re-written and established regulations challenged.
In April 2013, after gaining further approval and extensive corporate sponsorship True Heroes Racing broke new ground and became the first and only injured Serviceman’s motorcycle race team to ever compete at the British Superbike Championships, when Murray took to the track in the 2013 Triumph Triple Challenge.
As you can imagine; to actually enable a double, below knee amputee to ride a motorcycle certain modifications have to be carried out, to overcome the rider’s inability to operate the normal foot controls.
To do this the biggest adaption is that Murray uses, the British made, Kliktronic electromagnetic gear shifter system to change up or down the gearbox at the push of a handlebar mounted button - Kliktronic website - www.kliktronic.co.uk.
The team have used several various iterations of this set up, but have found the Kliktronic system to be the best for their needs in racing on several different makes of bike.
It’s instantaneous operation provides the speed of gear change required when racing.
The original set up the team used on Murray’s Triumph Triple Challenge Daytona 675R can be seen, both statically and in operation, in this short film that Eurosport produced in 2014 taking you round Murray’s adapted race bike and actually filming it on track when ex World Superbike racer and TV pundit, Jamie Whitham, rode a few laps of the Brands Hatch Indy circuit on it - Jamie Whitham rides Murray's adapted Triumph
Jamie Whitham rides Murray's adapted Triumph
Never before had an adapted motorcycle, raced by a disabled rider, supported by other injured personnel; ever featured at the British Superbike Championships.
Competing on this televised stage now meant not only was the team offering opportunities for more injured Service personnel to become involved in motorcycle racing as a form of rehabilitation, but the team were also normalising the life changing injuries sustained by it’s members and also inspiring others to attempt the things they were told or believed to be impossible.
From the very first moment True Heroes Racing took to the track they have inspired and great support has grown for the team and their achievements.
Their innovative and unique use of 2 wheeled motorsport has returned likeminded injured Service personnel to a fast, frenetic and pressurised environment.
The camaraderie and sense of humour amongst the team as identical to that found amongst serving military units and personnel, and this is a key feature of True Heroes Racing.
As is showing the world that it’s members are moving on from what has happened to them in the past and this is shown through the rider’s chosen race numbers which relate to the dates they sustained their injuries with Murray’s being #912.
Due to support and exposure in just one season competing at the British Superbike Championships, the team were able to double in size and field a second injured rider, supported by yet more injured Service personnel, and this growth has continued.
True Heroes Racing has expanded year-after-year and is now the professional unit seen and followed by thousands across the UK and beyond.
The team’s unique and sustained approach has led to interest from across the world to form links, inspire and learn lessons.
It’s certainly not the injuries of it’s members that is holding them back, it’s purely an increase in financial backing to fund their continued expansion.
Murray has just successfully completed his 4th consecutive season racing at the British Superbike Championships and 2 years ago swopped his Triumph for a Ducati Panigale and is now competing in the Ducati TriOptions Cup.
True Heroes Racing has aspirations to take injured Service personnel’s direct involvement in competitive motorcycle racing to the very top within the UK and hopes, one day, to be able to field a professional full premier Superbike Class team, competing against established, high profile riders and factory backed teams.
At this level True Heroes Racing would also be able to offer paid employment for injured Service personnel in new careers outside of the military.
If you would like to learn more about True Heroes Racing, might be interested in joining or supporting the team please feel free to contact them at:
Article, photos and videos supplied by True Heroes Racing