Unpacking My Trip to the Daytona 500
I made it back home to Arkansas yesterday from the 53rd running of the Great American Race – The Daytona 500. What an incredible blessing it was. This was a trip given to my wife, Julie, and I as a gift for five years of service as the pastor at Grand. I have to tell you that I am continually blown away at the generosity of my church and this is only the latest example. We left last Friday and flew to Jacksonville and stayed in a time-share in Saint Augustine that belonged to a church member. We attended the Saturday Nationwide race where my favorite driver, Tony Stewart won by 0.007 of a second! Unbelievable.
Then there was the Sunday Sprint Cup Race, the Daytona 500. What an experience. From the lap three tribute to the late Dale Earnhardt (who died 10 years ago on turn four of the final lap of the 500), to the tandem bump draft racing, a record number of cautions and lead changes, and the youngest winner ever of the 500, this race was one for the ages.
Why do I like NASCAR so much? People ask me this from time to time, some even scorning the sport as a bunch of guys merely going in a circle. Well here is my answer, all of which was reinforced through my experience at the Daytona 500.
- It may be a circle, but it’s a fast and dangerous circle. It is hard not to appreciate 43 cars going nearly 200 miles an hour, driving closer together than most people park. Yes, the danger of the sport is attractive.
- I’ve been to Major League Baseball games, NFL games, and NBA games, and loved them all. But nothing, and I mean nothing, come close to the intensity, noise, atmosphere, and adrenaline surrounding a NASCAR race. Period. Racing is the only sport you will attend where you have to wear ear protection because it’s so loud. The loudest I ever experienced at another event was an interception run back for a touchdown by the New Orleans Saints in the Super Dome. Loud? You bet, but it doesn’t even touch NASCAR.
- NASCAR is the only sport where you can see every team at the same time. Each week is an all-star event, not limited to only two teams. Whoever is your favorite, you are guaranteed to see them perform at any given race.
- My wife likes it. Yes, I am a blessed man. My wife loves NASCAR and even won our fantasy NASCAR league last year (you probably didn’t even know there was such a thing). Every race Julie and I attend is just another experience we share together. Experiences, not possessions, build stronger marriages.
- NASCAR is still the only sport that begins its events with an unashamed prayer to Jesus Christ. A prayer that is televised nationally. I hate to be gone from my church on Sundays. And it’s not just because I miss preaching. I miss being around my friends and family and worshipping with them. I really do! In fact, I have yet to take all my allotted vacation Sundays any given year since coming to pastor the Grand Family. But if I am going to be gone for the sake of a sporting event, it’s nice to be able to bow my head and acknowledge God and His son Jesus Christ publicly.
- You NEVER know what might happen at a NASCAR race. Like a 20 year old guy named Trevor Bayne, who nobody knows much of anything about, winning the Super Bowl of auto racing. And in every interview since, Trevor has been talking about the sovereignty of God. About how all of this was God’s plan for his life. You see, Trevor is a Christian and a member of Fairview Baptist Church in Tennessee. Trevor prays with his pit crew before the race. And Trevor is giving a portion of his $1.5 million winnings to some friends of his serving on the mission field.
Yep, all of this is why I love NASCAR.