team appeared at contingency and tech inspection for the SCORE Baja 1000. One truck had a carbon fiber body and leather stitched dash, the other was fiberglass body, leather stitched dash and both were mid-engine trucks. The team dressed in all black with gold GSM embellished on their NIKE shirts. Nobody knew who they were, where they had come from, or how did two trophy trucks get built without anyone knowing they even existed. More perplexing was who the drivers of the trucks were. James Lin was the name printed above door on truck 73. Robert Acer was above the door on truck 72. Lin is known within the industry for his wiring, electronics and telemetry. R.Acer was an unknown mystery man who dressed in black, including his ever-present, full-faced helmet.
Over the past two years GSM and R.Acer have raced in Mexico and the United States with either one truck or both in the field, but regardless of where he is, R.Acer has never let anyone see his true identity. Some, and most within desert racing, find this odd. Why would a racer never take his helmet off? Probably because there is more to it than what meets the eye surrounding one R.Acer. Who is this mystery man? Why has he never revealed his face, and what is the Robert Acer program he has established at schools worldwide?
Robert Acer and his trophy truck Bucephalus taking on a challenging Mint 400 course.
WHO, WHAT AND WHY
Robert Acer is more than a man in black that never reveals his identity and drives both trophy trucks and a Ferrari in GT3 racing. It is Marvel comics tied in with education blended with the D.A.R.E. program, and assisted by UNICEF to identify areas in need. The Robert Acer program is global. It focuses on third and second world countries and targeting schools to give children a chance they may have never had. To date, there are over 22,000 children in the program worldwide. Robert Acer is moving mountains within education. It doesn’t matter if you like the helmet or not, he’s giving children a chance to learn beyond what their parents had, because as Acer put it, ”You never know who your President could be. It could be one of these kids.”
HOW IT WORKS
Combining a trophy truck and Ferrari driver along with a Marvel comic super hero is no small feat. Add in the Robert Acer program that adopts schools in need, and it takes a small army of staff and volunteers to make the program work. The program identifies and adopts schools that do not have a lot of funding. After talking with principals and teachers, Acer’s team identifies what would be the best fit for the kids to make a change, and give those less fortunate a chance. Each of the schools has direct access to one-another through the Internet, and are able to take lessons from around the world and apply them firsthand. Schools range from K-12, and in 2015 a college program was also introduced in Italy.
“The kids and their teachers do a great job at working together online between the different schools,” explained Acer. “There are teachers that are team leads from each school that make this program work. They share learning’s between the teachers. Its also a great tool for the kids to learn first hand about other geographic areas globally.”
The first school in the program is in Lecce, Italy. Later, multiple schools opened in Baja, the USA, England and other European countries, even some of the war-torn areas in Asia. Future plans target China and Japan, as the program is well received given their cultural love for animé and comics.
Robert Acer and GSM play soccer with kids in San Felipe before the San Felipe 250.
“I wear a helmet with a reflective visor for a reason. Its so that the kids can see their reflection and I can tell them that someday they could be me, they could be the ones making a difference and changing lives, being a hero to someone,” Acer said during our phone interview. It was from a restricted number.
Acer has been lying low for the last several months, and many have asked where has our international man of mystery disappeared? If you follow him on social media he’s everywhere from LA to Abu Dhabi, to Italy to Jordan. Desert racing is not renowned in other areas of the world, so he’s partnered with Ferrari and races in the GT3 series so children have something to follow they can relate to outside of our beloved dirt sport of North America.
INSPIRING FUTURE GENERATIONS
Acer’s first attempt at the Baja 1000 resulted in a DNF, however he has finished the San Felipe 250, the Mint 400, and the NORRA Mexican 1000. For him, it’s not about the racing, it’s the experience and the encouragement he gives the thousands of kids. At the NORRA Mexican 1000, he was swarmed by kids at the finish line on the final day in San Juan del Cabo.
Prior to racing the NORRA Mexican 1000, Acer visited a school in Ensenada and later traveled to an orphanage with Blue C Communication, Herzog Electric and Jim Riley from Azunia Tequila. The orphanage was in need of electrical upgrades, and the gentlemen of Herzog Electric brought solar panels and installed them. Acer talked with the children about how their education is extremely important to them as the more they learn and stay in school it can lead to limitless possibilities for their future.
Acer speaks to the children in second grade about accepting others within their class and not bullying those that are different from them. Acer came to the school because a child was being bullied because he was allergic to the sun.
BEYOND SECONDARY EDUCATION
If you are curious enough to adventure to his website, robertacer.com, an animated comic will greet you and you will learn the beginnings of how Robert Acer landed on this planet; spoiler alert, he was cast out from above as seraph and sent to Earth to save humanity. Throughout the last few years he has accomplished quite a lot globally. So much so that Lecce, Italy, awarded him the Rever d’Oro award (the Golden Lapel award) for his humanitarian efforts. He’s the first athlete in 20 years to receive such a prestigious award.
However, the Robert Acer program goes beyond secondary schools. In 2015, the first of several Robert Acer Fashion Schools opened in Italy. He awarded three full-ride scholarships to the school in its first year, and applications for the scholarships saw upwards of 10,000 entries. “I had no idea the program would kick off as big as it did in Italy,” said Acer. “It worked so well that I’m working with other universities within the communities of adopted schools to open up additional fashion design programs.”
The program intrigued us so much that we wanted to learn more as to why our masked superhero had started a fashion school. Acer invited us to the 2015 Comic-Con in San Diego to meet with some of the instructors who were at Comic-Con as guest speakers. We were blown away as our expectations were that we were to meet instructors, not Oscar winning costume designers! But it still begged the question why fashion, and why Comic-Con?
Acer has incorporated the D.A.R.E. program into his school adoption program and it is successful because of peace officers encourage the program.
“Kids can be dress up and be their own superhero at Comic-Con and not have to worry about being bullied or made fun of, and it is truly inspiring to see the potential of what someone wants to be when they don’t have to put up their defenses,” said Acer through his carbon fiber helmet as we walked around Comic-Con.
In less than a year of the fashion and design school opening, Acer introduces a new FIA certified racing shoe to the world of motorsports. “I race Ferrari GT3 globally as well as the trophy truck in Baja. I spend a lot of time in my fire suit and race shoes, and it pays to be comfortable in both so you can focus on the track,” Acer explained during our last random phone call from who knows what continent.
NORRA AND WHAT LIES AHEAD
Acer has not raced in the desert since the Mint 400 in 2015, but that’s not to say he doesn’t have something up his sleeve. The 2016 NORRA Mexican 1000 was his most recent race in Baja. “I’ve been racing Ferrari GT3 worldwide for 2016, along with several other special projects,” explained Acer, “that I’ve not been able to make any of the races in Mexico until the NORRA race.”
Acer tackling the racecourse near Morelia Junction.
This was his first NORRA adventure, and he was testing multiple items on the truck. On day three of the rally he finished physically first in La Paz, and was 8th overall. He only needed to stay 11 minutes ahead of the next team in his class, but an issue with the V-Drive put him down two hours for repairs. He crossed the finish line 5th in class, which is great considering a third of the field did not finish.
Robert Acer. Superhero. Mystery Man. We may never see his face, but we really do not need to as we know he is doing good, making changes, moving mountains, and inspiring others that there is a hero inside everyone.
Robert Acer fans at Comic-Con 2015 showing the hero they want to be as they line up for autographs.
Robert Acer spending times with fans at Comic-Con 2015.
The 2015 Comic-Con Masquerade had three special awards given out by Robert Acer. This is the group from Big Hero Six who received the Robert Acer Award for Creativity and received a $5,000 cash prize.
Acer visiting a school in Ensenada, and getting swarmed by young fans.
Young fans at Comic-Con 2015 receiving an autographed poster from Robert Acer.
Robert Acer full throttle through shallow whoops at the NORRA Mexican 1000.