The last time I went to a NASCAR race, I was something like 14 years old. That’s back when NASCAR legend Richard “The King” Petty was burning up the tracks. Ten days ago, I was invited by Motor Racing Outreach (MRO) to witness the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint All-Star Race XXIV at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.. I had no idea I’d get to watch the 100 laps of heart-stopping action from the best seat in the house–on the infield! That had to be the most exciting sporting event I’d ever attended.
Before telling you about the purpose of my trip, I’ve got to describe the thrill of being that close to the action. Walking around the garages where some 43 cars were gearing up for the race was breathtaking. Mechanics making their final checks crawled over and under every vehicle like ants at a picnic. Every time someone on the pit crew revved an engine it sounded like the sonic boom of the space shuttle upon takeoff. Frankly, I gained a new appreciation for the guy who invented earplugs.
Wonderful down-to-earth guys. In fact, at one point we were so close to Kyle’s car, we could almost reach out and touch it. After taking our position against the infield wall, the race began. Accompanied by the thunderous applause of 100,000 fans in the stands, these skilled drivers sped by us at 185 mph in pursuit of the $1 million purse and a shot at the Coca-Cola 600. During the race, they’d pull in and out of the pit so fast I could barely pull my camera out of my pocket and focus it before they rocketed out-of-sight.
Prior to the main event, I had the privilege of sharing my story at a chapel arranged by MRO. For twenty years, MRO has been engaged in a unique ministry to those within the racing community. I appreciate their low key, relationship-oriented style to sharing Jesus with others. MRO believes that before any presentation of the Good News is made, a friendship should be established. Which is why they share the love of God with NASCAR drivers, crew members, officials, and family members of the racing teams behind the scenes.
This high-octane event was extra special for me because MRO, in a joint venture with Focus on the Family, arranged a picnic for 270 young people who were orphans or in foster care. Chowing down on hotdogs, tossing the football, and hanging out with these boys and girls was truly a highlight. Why? I know what it’s like to be a kid without parents, to struggle to get some traction in your pursuits, and to feel as if your life has gone into a tailspin. I also know that God meets us when we’re in trouble. I take great delight in offering kids like these the hope that can come from God.
Now that I’m back home, two things have happened. First, I think I’m becoming a NASCAR fan. I couldn’t help but feel a special connection to the sport as Kasey Kahne, the winner of the Sprint All-Star race, went on to claim the top prize at the Coca-Cola 600. The second thing that’s happened is I find myself fighting the temptation to drive with a heavy foot!