American LMP2 Driver Competing in European Le Mans Series Calls on Motorsport Fans to Join “Race to End Human Trafficking”

Days away from the 4 Hours of Imola race in Italy, Rob Hodes, an LMP3 driver joining the LMP2 ranks for the first time this year, is using his platform to raise awareness for the fight to end human trafficking around the world. Hodes decided to donate his car’s advertising space to the anti-trafficking nonprofit, The Exodus Road. After visiting Thailand several years ago and seeing children and young women on the streets being offered to tourists for sex, Hodes felt deeply disturbed, he said. He eventually connected with The Exodus Road in 2020.

“Thinking about any human being, let alone a woman or child, being enslaved and violated crushes my soul,” Hodes said. His cousin found The Exodus Road online while helping him search for anti-trafficking nonprofits. The Exodus Road combats human trafficking in Thailand and five other countries through on-the-ground search and rescue with local police, training and education, and aftercare services for survivors.

After connecting with the organization’s founders, Hodes quickly became a financial supporter. And now, he is using his racing platform to raise awareness for the movement. Team Virage has joined him.

“Awareness on all levels can only accelerate intolerance for human trafficking and lead to the freedom of victims,” Hodes said. “I’ve felt an urgency to do something to stop human trafficking for a very long time, and I’m excited to help further the critical work of The Exodus Road.”

“We are deeply grateful for the advocacy work of Team Virage this season. It’s an innovative, exciting move to leverage a race car on the global stage on behalf of this issue,” said Laura Parker, CEO of The Exodus Road. “The first step to fighting human trafficking is for people to understand it, and that’s exactly what this type of project will push forward.”

Hodes is racing as an LMP2 entry in the Pro/Am division of the European Le Mans Series (ELMS); LMP2 is the top class. He is racing with two other drivers, Gabriel Aubry and Jazeman Jaafar, for Team Virage. The second race in the series takes place on May 15 in Imola, Italy.

“The Exodus Road, Rob Hodes and Team Virage are at the birth of a brand-new kind of challenge,” said Julien Gerbi, the team manager for Virage Racing Group. “We share common values of perseverance, discipline and the will to progress, and having the European Le Mans Series LMP2 car as a platform to promote the excellent work of The Exodus Road will certainly raise more awareness on the terrible human trafficking situation that all countries face today.”

The European Le Mans Series features six races that take place in five different countries – France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Portugal – from April to June. The races are live broadcasted on YouTube and Facebook.  At the end of the ELMS title race, six invitations are awarded to drivers giving them the opportunity to enter in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, according to the ELMS Instagram page.

When asked why the racing community should care about this global crisis, Hodes said:

Racing is the ultimate freedom. It is a high profile, high octane, fast-paced lifestyle fueled by creativity and resourcefulness that reaches communities around the world as we travel from track to track. It only makes sense that the racing community take a stand. Collectively, we have immense influence, resources and networks to fuel the end of this atrocity. I hope whenever someone sees the message on the Team Virage car, the speed of the car will symbolize an urgency to quickly free the most vulnerable of people trapped in the dark prison of human trafficking. If we choose to ignore the suffering of over 40 million victims – the majority of which are women and children – we devalue humanity as a whole.

The car not only features The Exodus Road logo and “Race to End Human Trafficking,” it also contains a QR code which leads directly to a page full of educational resources for visitors. Team Virage hopes that racing fans will visit the page, learn about the issue, and be inspired to take action to help make a free world.

Visit the Race to End Human Trafficking page here. Learn more about Team Virage here.


Adam Sinclair