When are you really an adult? Mark was your typical college kid looking for direction and not sure what he wanted. Like many young adults he was naïve and believed that being an adult was all about age, however age alone does not make you an adult. Your actions, choices and decisions in life shape who you are and who you become. These things form you into an adult.
During his freshman year of college, Mark remembers how the September 11th attacks made a significant impact in his life. That event changed him. He had been coasting his way through school and life, with little to no effort or direction. Mark had grown up surrounded by motorsport and began racing at age five. He made his way behind the wheel of a Spec Miata in SCCA regional and national events and experienced great success. In spite of all of this, he still felt as if he had something to prove. The summer of 2002 rolled around and his parents had rules for living at home. They were concerned about all the time and opportunities he had wasted. In retrospect, Mark acknowledged that he had taken much for granted and squandered great opportunities.
He soon saw a new direction for his life and decided to join the Army. It was a decision made quietly without the knowledge of his family or friends; for fear of their discouragement and unsolicited advice. He was still young and headstrong; looking to prove himself as an adult, avoiding any valuable guidance from those that cared about him most.
Fast-forward 2 years. For the last 12 months Mark had slept on a cot wearing full battle gear in Abu Ghraib, Iraq experiencing hundreds of mortar attacks. Obviously his outlook on life had started to change drastically. As difficult as those months might have been they were very significant in shaping him into a man. It caused him to reflect upon his life and understand how many things he had taken for granted. Mark realized how much his family, close friends and living up to his potential was what mattered the most to him.
While serving his country, Mark finally learned the importance of living up to your potential. He is proud of his time in the military, but there have been many steps between then and now. Post deployment, it was challenging to see friends progressing with their lives and careers; watching them as he felt left behind. Assimilation back to civilian life was difficult with many unexpected ups and downs, but a great support system kept him motivated to keep moving forward. One of VOIEF’s goals is to come alongside soldiers, just like Mark; and help them make their adjustment back to civilian life as seamless as possible.
Mark now enjoys a successful career as a tax consultant and professional racing driver.
- Enlisted in Army June 2002
- Thirteen-month tour Iraq OIF-1 veteran 2003-2004, stationed at Log Base Seitz, west of the Green Zone
- Logged over 15,000 accident free miles through hostile territories in Iraq
- Convoyed in LOGPACS to 2nd ACR at Camp Marlboro
- Delivered 40,000 gallons of potable water
- Distributed over 27,000 gallons of MoGas
- Humanitarian missions- Logged 600 miles in hostile territory to transport 30,000 gals of potable H2O to Iraqi civilians
- Soldier of the Month for the Battalion
- Tasked to 82nd Airborne for 2 months
- 3 Army Achievement medals
- 1 ARCOM medal
- Featured soldier in the “We Know the Price of Freedom” mural at Camp Robinson, Little Rock, Arkansas
- PT patch for achieving a 300 score, perfect on the physical fitness test
- Face of the Army in the 2008 Army Marketing Campaign (commercials and print)
- Mark was been discharged from the Army honorably after completing his 8 year commitment to the Army in June 2010
Racing Career Highlights
- 2011: Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge led more laps than any other driver pairing in the Street Tuner class and qualified in the top five in seven out of 10 races including a win at Mid-Ohio that helped Mazda win the Manufacturers championship.
- 2008 & 2009: SCCA Pro VW TDI Cup, set six fastest race laps out of 18 total races including four poles and three wins. Also finished in top five thirteen out of eighteen races, was featured driver in SPEED Channel TDI Cup documentary, and finished in the top three in championship points in 2008 and 2009.
- 2008: Set track record at Road Atlanta first weekend ever in a Spec Racer Ford at the track. Set track records at Roebling Road and Carolina Motorsports Park for Spec Miata.
- 2007: Won SCCA SE division championship; captured four wins, one second, and one third in six total races. Finished sixth at the Runoffs.
- 2006: Began racing SCCA national events in Spec Miata with one win, one second place and five third place finishes. Finished third in points in the SE division.
- 2005: Won the ARRC and raced a Spec Miata in the SCCA SE division finishing third in the SARRC points with two first places, two second places, two third places and two fourth place finishes.
- 2004: Raced a Spec Miata in six events finishing fifth in the SARRC championship.
- 1999 – 2002: Raced Legends at Lanier Speedway and won 13 races.
- 1987 – 1990: Began racing Quarter Midgets.
Mark Pombo and his MINI JCW Team Car
Mark Pombo Driving Convoy Trucks
Mark Pombo's MINI John Cooper Works racecar
Mark Pombo featured in mural at Ft Riley
Mark Pombo coming home
Mark Pombo on podium at Road America
Mark Pombo racing Miatas
Mark Pombo racing after service
Mark Pombo racing Miatas
Mark Pombo's SCCA Miata