BETHANY, Pa. (WBRE/WYOU) — Being a Rally Truck driver takes skills that are far greater than the rest of us on the road. In the case of a local off-road racer, he’s putting his skills to more than just personal gain.
The Rally Truck driver lives in Oregon Township. His mission on and off road is to help others steer clear of a debilitating medical emergency.
“It’s kind of an adrenaline fix for me. That adrenaline, those endorphins, actually help me rehabilitate.” 56-year-old Gary DeMasi wont’ let a life-threatening crisis slow him down. He’s been rally truck racing since 2012; two years after suffering a stroke. “I had left side disability. Arm, leg, even some of my organs.”
He decided the best way to get on the road to recovery was to pursue something he was obsessed with for years: off-road racing. “I absolutely love, you know, the fact to being able to do what I do because I do it so well.”
In his 1985 Ford Ranger, a truck he says he built from the ground up, he’s become a top three finisher among the dozens of drivers he routinely competes against. He’s also become an advocate for stroke awareness. On the panel of his Rally Truck are the words “Rally FAST”. The FAST acronym stands for the stroke warning signs of Facial Droop, Arm Weakness, Slurred Speech and Time To Call 911. He’s received plenty of positive feedback. “It’s really amazing. I think it’s why I keep doing it. I mean every year I say I’m going to quit.”
This year, DeMasi is adding a new wrinkle to his racing for a cause. Besides raising awareness about stroke symptoms, he’s also focusing on rallying for the troops. He sells $10 decals he posts on his truck with proceeds benefiting veterans dealing with PTSD and other health issues. “It’s important that we get them out in the community, reintegrate them and just get them involved in something which is just bigger than them,” he said.
DeMasi will race again October 27th and 28th in Narrowsburg, New York with the help of his Crew Chief Brian Barton, his son Gary, Jr. and co-driver Stephen Kurey. You can learn more about the event by clicking here. You can also learn about helping DeMasi’s causes by clicking here, here, here or here.