Semper Fi: Mark Llano Shows Military Loyalty in Racing Fashion
May 29th, 2013
Semper Fi: Mark Llano Shows Military Loyalty in Racing Fashion
Wellington, Fla., (May 29, 2013) – Mark Llano, a former US Marine, is taking his SERKET Racing team to the front lines of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series to raise awareness for veterans, military members and their families.
Llano and SERKET Racing, in conjunction with NGT Motorsport, are easily noticed on track with their MultiCam pattern. The MultiCam camouflage pattern is a source of pride. Llano wants the fans to know this camouflage represents our military’s sacrifice and that SERKET Racing is an ambassador for their needs. Llano competes with the goal of raising awareness and assistance for military veterans and their families.
The former Marine also uses racing to keep in military form. Esprit de Corps, or the spirit of a unit, is something a race team and the Marines have in common. Llano notices specific similarities in spirit between the two.
“When I think about the pit crew and the amazing guys NGT has working for them, I think about my time in the Marine Corps., it’s a brotherhood,” recounted Llano. “You really start to see that everybody has each other’s back. For me, I don’t think you can create that, you either have it or you don’t and NGT has it; the team spirit, the dependability, the drive to succeed. They have amazing guys in the pit that truly do care. I think that’s important.”
The brotherhood bond the SERKET Race team forms is a camaraderie that includes everyone from the pit crew to NGT owner Ramez Wahab. The ability to rely on each other is not expendable in this sport; it is what the rookie leans on to better himself as a driver.
“At NGT we have an amazing team and we have some of the fastest drivers. Ramez Wahab, and his wife Sylvia are truly remarkable,” Llano said. “Sitting down in the trailer reading data with professional drivers, Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler, is a huge advantage for a rookie learning the track. They really dissect my data; we compare it to the other drivers on our team, and look for ways for me to continuously improve. I get to see their data, learn from them and then go out and apply it on the race track. Racing is not just about going fast. There is so much technique and so much involved in it.”
Taking things one step at a time, or as the Marines say one target at a time, is how Llano keeps himself from being overwhelmed at the tracks. At the second event of the season in Monterey, Calif., the rookie had to face Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s corkscrew. He admits he was nervous but his focus outweighed the nerves.
“My first time (at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca) was overwhelming, exciting and I had a lot of adrenalin,” Llano said. “It was fantastic! After the nervousness wore off, I was just really trying to survive the race; the initial start of these races is unbelievable. So once I could get through and navigate the traffic, it was a matter of just maintaining pace and finishing the race.”
Llano received advice on how to steadily move through the field for the first race.
“Bryan Sellers told me one thing, and that was to just finish the race, and stay consistent,” Llano said. “I tried to stay out of the drama and I figured I could pick up lap times as I went.”
Race two did not pass without more advice, this time from Henzler, “To push a little bit more and continue to stay out of it.” The rookie was able to take the track with a more expectant disposition.
“In race two I was a little bit more confident but you always feel that nervousness the minute you are sitting there on the grid waiting,” Llano explained. “It was a very surreal moment just standing there realizing how blessed we are at Serket Racing to be here and see if we can do a great thing here for the military guys.”
Won’t Back Down
In the second race, Llano delivered. He moved from his qualifying position of 24th to a solid 14th place. He gives credit to his time spent in the military; he gets focused in the car, as if he is going on a mission.
“I think being a former Marine helps me because I’m not going to quit in the car and the Marine Corps has taught me what determination is all about. I think no matter what branch of service, Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines, it is just embedded in you to never give up.”
Llano says the part he cherishes most about racing is the ability to create awareness and support for our military men and women in such a high level sport. Racing is about not giving up, staying focused, taking risk and pushing yourself past your comfort zone; some of the same traits our warfighters and veterans experience while serving in our armed forces.
“SERKET Racing and its sponsors want our fans, our veterans, our warfighters and their families to know, ‘Hey we’re thinking about you, we’re creating awareness; we’re showing support for our military,’ and we will continue to carry that flag high and hopefully soon the checkered flag, too.” Llano expressed.
The fans are a big part of the electrifying atmosphere surrounding SERKET Racing. The young and old alike find themselves attracted to the MultiCam pattern and the message of SERKET Racing.
Supporter Martha A. became a fan after just one glance at the race car during a practice session at Sebring this year.
“It’s like a dance around moment. It brought something I’m passionate about which is racing, and something I love which is my military family, together,” said Martha, whose husband still serves. “This team will have a special place in my heart because they use racing to raise awareness for my military family.”
SERKET Racing goes above and beyond raising awareness and providing hospitality to those who currently or have served in our armed forces. They give back 25 percent of the proceeds from sponsorship funds and the sale of SERKET race apparel. These funds help support Operation Homefront, The Xtreme Couture GI Foundation and the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities.
The SERKET Racing apparel is a great way for fans to show they support our troops and the team. Most recently, Texas Governor Rick Perry sported the SERKET race team’s MultiCam hat at the V8 Supercars Austin 400 race at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.
“Governor Rick Perry came over and thanked us for all that we do and support,” Llano said. “He came out because he heard about our mission. It was absolutely amazing to have him out and be able to talk to him about what SERKET Racing is doing for our veterans and warfighters.”
Llano and the SERKET Racing team fought a hard battle at COTA. Starting in the 12th position in a field of 29, Llano was able to finish in the top 10 for the first two races. In the third race of the weekend Llano was collected in an unavoidable race incident. On the first lap of the race, a car in front of Llano spun and rolled backwards leaving him with nowhere to go but into the spun car. The SERKET Racing MultiCam car was totaled, but the team is planning to bounce back quickly with the next series event at Watkins Glen.
“My shoulders were completely black and blue from impact,” said Llano. “But we are ordering a new platinum 911 and getting a new shell and top from Porsche to rebuild the old one. We will be ready for Watkins Glen in June.”
The resilient attitude of Llano is what brings people to his side. Recently former Navy SEAL, actor, and driver Geoff Reeves caught up with Llano after hearing about his mission to serve our warfighters.
“His military attitude just felt good; it was like I was back among friends and family,” Reeves said. “Out in L.A. there isn’t a lot of teamwork going on so it was nice to have that. With Mark I looked forward to going over to his paddock to see what was going on. He’s just a good guy; you want to be his friend.”
Reeves plans to use his sophomore year in racing to accomplish a similar goal to Llano by sending a portion of his merchandise proceeds to veterans. While Reeves did not start his mission in correlation to Llano he did find himself inspired by him.
“He’s very knowledgeable about business,” Reeves said. “He makes me realize where I need to get to and what I need to work on. He’s crazy with how on top of it he is when working on that side of things.”
The spirit of the Marine Corps fuels the way Llano conducts his business, the way he races, and how he gives back. It has taught him what it takes to win and how important it is to remember how you got there. As Memorial Day passes and another race day encroaches, Llano takes time to remember those who have sacrificed and fought for our country.
“This is a day to remember the heroes and silent warriors among us, to honor those who have paid the ultimate price for freedom,” Llano said. “We understand the scars you carry and sacrifices you have made. We at SERKET Racing have chewed the same dirt and we salute you and give you our unwavering support, thank you and Semper Fi.”
Mark Llano and SERKET Racing will set out to conquer the Glen, their next GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama race, on June 28-30 at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International Raceway.
Follow SERKET Racings progress on Twitter or on Facebook.
About SERKET Racing:
SERKET Racing (serketracing.com) is an organization based in Wellington, Florida, that races a 2012 GT3 cup car in conjunction with NGT Motorsport (ngtmotorsport.com). Beginning in 2013 SERKET racing will compete in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama – the largest single-make racing series in North America. Started by former Marine Mark Llano, and Randy Webb, the SERKET racing team competes with the goal of raising awareness and assistance for those who have honorably served and sacrificed for our country: military veterans and their families. Veteran owned and operated, SERKET Racing is aware of the obstacles that veterans face upon their return home and teams with numerous local, state and national charities to develop and implement innovative programs to assist these veterans and their families in their time of need.
About Operation Homefront:
A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers with nationwide presence, and has met more than 590,000 needs of military families since its inception in 2002. A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally, 94 percent of total revenue donated to Operation Homefront goes directly to assist service members.
About The Xtreme Couture GI Foundation:
A 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation, was founded by Randy Couture to honor the veterans of America’s armed forces. The foundation was especially formed to raise money and awareness for those wounded in action and their families.To date, more than 24,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in the war against terrorism, which doesn’t include the many more suffering the mental effects.
The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) is a program first created by the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, designed to provide training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities resulting from their military service. The mission of the EBV is to open the door to business ownership for our veterans, by developing skills that relate to the many steps associated with launching and growing a small business. Today the EBV is offered by a network of world-class business schools across the U.S., that includes Syracuse University, Texas A&M University, Florida State University, UCLA, Purdue University, and the University of Connecticut. The training is provided at no cost to eligible veterans.