Faith on the Frontstretch: Praying on Pit Road

MRO chaplain, Nick Terry, prays with Kurt Busch & Patricia Driscoll before the Dover Sprint Cup race, June 1, 2014.
Credit: Beth Bence Reinke / Skirts and Scuffs  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

There’s something powerful about opening ceremonies at a NASCAR race. As all eyes lift to the flag and ears turn to the invocation and anthem, there’s a reverent hush like no other moment in sports. A silent electricity fills the air — an odd pairing of soothing calmness and expectancy. You know the feeling, right?

What fans may not know is what happens in the time between driver intros and opening ceremonies, when a solitary figure strides down pit road, stopping here and there beside a car. At each race, one or two chaplains walk the grid, praying with drivers and their families. Arranging their bodies into a circle, they pray privately amidst the network TV cameras and prying eyes of pit road onlookers.

The idea of daredevil athletes praying for divine protection may seem odd. After all, they consider 180 miles per hour a normal speed and appear to control their own destinies on the track. With lightning-fast reflexes and a fearless demeanor, it’s easy to think of them as almost superhuman.

Drivers don’t show fear because racing for a living isn’t for the timid; it takes courage. But courage and prayer go hand in hand. A quote often attributed to Dorothy Bernard says:

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

Many drivers realize that praying on pit road is the most important thing they’ll do on race day.

Prayer is surrender. When you pray, you separate yourself from the world for a time as you connect with God and submit to His leading. No matter what problems you’re facing, seeking God’s direction is wise.

Prayer brings peace and confidence. Concentrating on God helps eliminates our worries, especially when we focus on His goodness and invite Him to be part of our activities and decisions.

Prayer renews our resolve. Even a 30-second prayer on pit road before a race is powerful. Pastor Charles Stanley explains it this way:

"We can be tired, weary and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength."

Prayer is a safe place, a restful retreat where your soul touches heaven. At any moment, you can simply think a prayer in your mind and the Creator of the universe hears you. Incredible, isn’t it? It’s a privilege no one can take from you as long as you’re alive and conscious.

A day without prayer is like a lap under caution: You’re going forward but not making any real progress. Drivers pray before climbing into the car. Another good time to pray is in the morning before your feet hit the floor.

Whether you’re strapping in or waking up, talking with God is a privilege and a blessing. Are you praying on pit road in your race of life?

The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. ~ Psalm 6:9

“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 NASCAR fans. Or you can purchase the book in paperback & ebook here.
Faith on the Frontstretch: Praying on Pit Road Faith on the Frontstretch: Praying on Pit Road Reviewed by Beth Reinke on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 Rating: 5