Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Faith on the Frontstretch: Miracle deal fueled by Smoke

Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs  

“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

Do miracles happen in NASCAR? According to Greg Zipadelli, director of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing, they do. In a teleconference this week, Zipadelli expressed amazement at how quickly and easily the deal came together for Mark Martin to take over as driver of the injured Tony’s Stewart’s No. 14 car.

“It’s about as close to a miracle as you could have happen in such a short period of time,” he said.

For the deal to work, the top brass at both Stewart-Haas and Michael Waltrip Racing had to agree to it. In addition, manufacturers and sponsors for both teams had to approve it, as well as Brian Vickers, who will pilot Martin's vacated No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota for 12 of the remaining 13 races of the season. How many people had to say yes altogether? Zipadelli wasn’t sure, but he said it was “a lot.”

Two opposing race teams who came together to cement a deal. Cooperation between competitors. Some people would call that a miracle.

How did the arrangement happen so swiftly and smoothly? Mark Martin attributed it to the fondness folks in racing feel toward one particular guy.

“One thing I do want to say ... is the amazing amount of cooperation that it took to get this deal done by so many parties, and I haven't seen this much cooperation in the past, and I think it was largely in part for the incredible amount of respect that everyone has in the sport for Tony Stewart,” Martin said.

Cooperation is a tricky thing. It requires bending to the needs of others. There was evidence of deferring to others and praising others throughout the press conference where the deal was announced:

~ Mark Martin expressed his appreciation for the people at MWR and said he was proud of his teammates, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex, Jr.

~ Zipadelli said they look forward to working with an accomplished driver like Martin, whom he called Stewart’s “first choice” to fill his seat.

~ Brian Vickers voiced his gratitude in a tweet: “Thankful for the opportunity to drive the @aaronssports @toyotaracing 55 the rest of the year. Except Talladega. That's all you @mw55.”

~ Most notably, as he discussed handing over one of his own drivers to a competitor, team owner Michael Waltrip made this statement:

“I'm just really thankful that Tony and Zippy and all the folks at Stewart-Haas wanted Mark to come help. And the reason why I say that is I know he'll be an asset to that organization."

He continued. “I love Tony Stewart, who he is and what he stands for, and I love Mark. He's a special person, and I'm glad he's going to be able to help those folks.”

Wow.

Somewhere along the race of life, these men in higher-up NASCAR positions learned that being a guy who cares about others is vital, especially in challenging times. They freely give resources and credit to others without fear that the praise might diminish themselves in any way. That’s humility.

In the Bible, humility is a precursor to receiving God’s blessing. He looks with favor on those who show true humility of spirit (*Isaiah 66:2.) He forgives those who humbly pray (**2 Chronicles 7:14.)

How do we become humble? The trait often develops as we muddle through hard stuff, times of personal brokenness. Yes, brokenness comes before humility. That might sound like a pun about Stewart’s broken leg, but it’s not. It’s a real truth we learn from life.

If something in life is broken – a relationship, health, whatever – that’s when we realize our smallness, and taste genuine humility. Hitting bottom prods us to look up and realize that every blessing comes from above.

We can be humble toward each other, too. In fact, these two race teams are a shining example.  Fueled by their love for an ailing, well-respected racer, a bunch of people were willing to humble themselves enough to reach a solution that helped him and satisfied everyone. How cool is that?

Thank you, God, for our many blessings, all of which come from you. Today we’re grateful for the humble racing folks who worked out this miracle deal. Help us to follow their example. Amen.

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” ~ 1 Peter 5:5b
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* These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. ~ Isaiah 66:2

** ... if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

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“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.

3 comments :

Coopetition! Sounds great! Good luck to everyone involved!

I am so impressed, makes me rethink things that have happened in my life and they have humbled me to thank the Lord for what I've got in my life now. I will continue to try very hard to stay humble in things that I do.

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