This coming weekend in Richmond, Virginia, upwards of 200,000 NASCAR fans will gather at the Richmond International Raceway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and millions more will watch on television.
Detailing the event’s “play by play” for FOX Sports will be Darrell Waltrip. I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with Darrell and his wife, Stevie, and I’m excited to welcome them to our program as our guests.
Darrell was one of the most successful drivers on the NASCAR circuit in the 1980s. In fact, he is tied for third on the all-time win list. Together, he and Stevie are chairpersons for Motor Racing Outreach, a Christian organization that holds chapel services for the drivers, crews, and their families. They also distribute Christian literature and offer other support for those in the NASCAR community. I’m pleased to serve on their board and appreciate the work they perform at NASCAR tracks on weekends.
Our conversation with Darrell and Stevie was recorded at the Darrell Waltrip Museum in front of a live audience of Focus friends right before a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. We discussed the ups and downs of their 46 years of marriage in front of a backdrop of racing banners, photos from Darrell’s career, and a number of his old race cars, some of which had been wrecked, leaving you wondering how anybody could have walked away.
It’s a fascinating building for NASCAR fans, but Darrell sees the memorabilia a bit differently. He says it all represents things that he put before God. All the races he won and all of his accomplishments were achieved without giving God the glory.
It’s been quite a journey for Darrell and Stevie to turn their faith – and their marriage – around.
They met when he was 19 and she was 16, got engaged when she was a senior in high school, and were married nine months later. They were in love, but there were challenges. Stevie’s focus was on Darrell and their marriage, but Darrell was all-consumed with racing and didn’t give their relationship much thought. Neither one made the Lord a priority.
That changed for Stevie on their 10th wedding anniversary when she told Darrell she wanted to love the Lord more than she loved him. Her commitment was the seed that began to transform their relationship with each other and with God.
Darrell’s reawakening to the Lord began at a race in 1983. Before then, he had felt invincible in a race car. But on that particular day he had a wreck at Daytona that spun him into a wall and gave him a concussion so serious he didn’t remember driving in the next two races. That accident, as Darrell says it, knocked him “conscious.”
Much of the Waltrips story is grounded in their deep faith. Stevie always believed the Lord could redeem their relationship. Her hope in Christ gave her the strength never to give up on her marriage. And that’s her advice for couples trying to find their way to brighter days in their marriage. Your part is to trust the Lord, to pray, and to seek help from couples who know and love you or from professional counselors if necessary. But remember, the Lord is the One who does the saving. Even when you’re tempted to give up on your spouse, don’t give up on God.
I hope you’ll join us over the next couple of programs. You’ll hear more about Darrell and Stevie’s faith journey and their path to building a thriving marriage that has endured.