BARRE — Race car squealing over pavement filled the air at Thunder Road Wednesday morning as Adaptive Motorsports & Wellness hosted several physically disabled combat veterans, offering them a rare chance to race at the historic track. One of the veterans was Staff Sgt. Louis Rosa-Valentin, who served in the Army doing two tours in Iraq. On his second tour, in an explosion, Rosa lost both legs above the knee, his left arm below the elbow, his hearing, almost all the vision in his left eye, as well as his sense of smell.  Though even after that experience, Rosa said he refuses to quit.  "You can't keep me away from an event like this," he said. "I just like going fast. To me driving has always been an escape."  Rosa wasn't the only one refusing to quit. Pvt. Albert Bouchrelli, 92, was drafted into World War II when he was 18, heading to Italy that same year. On Nov. 11, 1943, at 19, Bouchrelli was wounded above the knee and sent through a chain of hospitals, eventually having his leg amputated above the knee.  "I'm not stopping anytime soon," Bouchrelli bragged Tuesday. "I tell everyone I still got 10 years left in me and, hey, it's (the racing) not going to hurt."  Brian Hanaford, the event's organizer, discussed the therapeutic side of the event.  "Sometimes going into civilian life can be hard for them (the veterans), and something like this eases the transition," Hanaford said. "The events, I think, are more therapeutic for me than the vets because it's all about giving back."  Hanaford hosted the first event in 2008 in North Hanover, Massachusetts, with another organizer, who was a mobility worker.  Hanaford said he continued the event until 2013, when he and his event partner parted ways. That stopped the event for a couple of years.  "I was feeling sorry for myself," Hanaford said. That was inspiration enough. Hanaford started back up again, and has been touring the country hosting the event at various tracks.  The daylong event takes place in three phases: The first phase is video gaming, where veterans each take turns to develop the hand-eye coordination needed to drive a race car. Then the veterans attend a skill school to teach them reaction timing and to work with local race car drivers to learn the workings of the car. Finally, they pair up with an instructor and get to racing on the track.  Hanaford's father Harold "Hard Luck" Hanaford recently passed away. He had been a two-time champion of the Milk Bowl at Thunder Road, Hanaford said.  Brian Hanaford said he carried on his father's memory Wednesday by painting the event's race car purple, his father's racing color. Hanaford said he has been grateful to all of the veterans who have come out and were eager to have the spotlight on them.  "The guys that are the real heroes are the soldiers," he said. The event started around 9 a.m., and lasted well into the afternoon.

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