Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Faith on the Frontstretch: The hope of heaven amidst a tragic racing season

Looking heavenward for the flyover at Dover International Speedway, June 2012
Credit Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

Kasey Kahne was thrilled to win at Pocono Raceway last weekend, but being at the track also made him think of his late friend, Jason Leffler. In Victory Lane, Kahne said he and Leffler shared a ride home after the spring Pocono race.

Leffler’s death in a dirt racing accident was one of many, many losses suffered by the racing community this season. Three other dirt racers lost their lives at tracks in Indiana and Nevada. In California, two people died when a car left the track and crashed onto pit road. A fan was killed by lightning at the June Pocono race. Then NASCAR Nation lost racing legend Dick Trickle.

Within the past week, two more racing folks passed away: a retired judge serving as a crew member was killed when he fell from a hauler while unloading a car and another dirt racer, Kramer Williamson, died after injuries suffered at Lincoln Speedway in Pennsylvania.

And on Monday night, NASCAR driver and team owner Tony Stewart crashed in a sprint car race, breaking both bones in his lower right leg. Stewart won’t be pumping the gas pedal of his No. 14 car at Watkins Glen this week and probably beyond, but by the grace of God, he survived.

It’s heartbreaking to experience so many racing tragedies in such a short time. Sadly, no matter how many safety precautions are in place, fatal accidents happen both in racing and in real life.

Every driver, every team member, every fan - each one of us will die someday. Most of us try not to think about it.

But when faced with reports of other folks passing on, or wrecks like Stewart’s where the possibility of death existed, we think about what could have happened. There might be a niggling thought in the back of our minds about our own death, too, or that of a loved one.

If we aren’t sure what happens after we die, it can be a terrifying thought, leaving us with a dry mouth and belly full of butterflies that feel more like bats.

Many of us fear the manner in which we’ll die and have all kinds of questions: Will it be quick? Will I suffer through a long illness with pain or loss of mobility? Will I die alone or with a loved one holding my hand?

The answers are unknown, and that’s unsettling. In fact, it seems morbid to dwell on the thoughts of death, but it’s a somber part of being human that we can’t escape.

Thankfully, we don’t need to live in fear. There’s a way to have peace about what happens after your heart beats for the last time. The afterlife isn’t a mystery for anyone who reads the Bible.

Heaven awaits you. The Bible says heaven is a place of incredible beauty where you’ll have a brand-new, perfect body. There will be no pain, no tears or heartache - only joy. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

The assurance of heaven is a free gift for you to accept. All you have to do is believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, ask Him to forgive you and accept Him as your Savior. It sounds so simple, it almost makes you think it’s silly. But it’s not silly at all. It’s serious stuff that determines your eternal destiny.

Maybe you're thinking, “Well, if God was a good god, He’d let everyone go to heaven, right?”

Yes, God DOES give everyone the chance to spend eternity in heaven with Him. But He isn't a tyrant who bullies anyone into it. Each of us has the free will to choose Jesus, and therefore, heaven.

Or you might think, “Nah, I don’t think so. That Jesus stuff isn't for me. I’ll just wait and think about it a while.” Yep, you could wait and think, but keep in mind that you’re not guaranteed tomorrow. When Jason Leffler took the green flag in his final dirt race, it ended up being the white flag in his earthly life.

None of us knows when his or her white flag will fly. But having the assurance of stepping out of this life and into heaven is such a blessing. Will you choose to accept Jesus today?

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.       ~ Acts 4:12 (New Living Translation)

“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or Twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.


  1. What a great article. I hope fans read it and think about where they will go when they die. A wonderful witness. Keep up the good fight.

  2. Thanks for reading, Mary Ellen! Happy New Year!