For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for NASCAR

Oh, come on.  Don't tell me you didn't see this one coming.  My NASCAR addiction/obsession has calmed down quite a bit in recent years, mostly due to cancelling our satellite and thus limiting my exposure.  But I still love stock car racing.

And to any doubters, don't knock it until you've tried it.  I grew up in St. Louis where everything was baseball, football, hockey.  Pretty much in that order.  And while we had our share of dirt tracks in the area, (including the world famous I-55 Pevely Raceway associated with equally famous co-owner/promoter and NASCAR driver Ken Schrader), racing was still not on my radar growing up. 

In fact, not for a long time.  I used to even make fun of the rednecks who were into that racin' stuff.  It wasn't until my oldest son was about 9 or so and started talking about race cars that I decided to sit down and watch a race with him.  And I was hooked.  I tried to say it was just because it was something I could sit and enjoy with my son.  But when my obsession far outweighed his interest, it was pretty obvious. 

A lot of folks don't "get" racing.  Former NFL quarterback Donavan McNabb made headlines not that long ago by suggesting that drivers are not really athletes.  6 time cup champ Jimmie Johnson gave a good response.  But the discussion continues.  Many still see NASCAR as a southern, redneck thing. 

That image was prevalent for years, and quite honestly true for years.  One driver started changing that.  Jeff Gordon came onto the scene and was not a good 'ol southern boy, but a chic young talent (at the time) who roared in and starting winning.  (And he currently leads the points standings, even without a win I might add). Slowly, NASCAR started becoming a bit more mainstream.  

And from a theological standpoint, some may not see many redeeming qualities.  I remember having a doctoral seminar with Dr. Don Whitney, now at Southern Seminary.  When he saw me wearing a NASCAR jersey he told me that NASCAR was the epitome of everything he was trying to get people away from.  As a professor of Spiritual Disciplines, focusing on meditation and such, he told me NASCAR represents the things that are killing us:  noise, crowds, hurry, going in circles.  He was just joking (sort of) but making a spiritual point as well.  We do need to get away from those four things.  Except for a couple hours once a week, that is.  Then, it's time for "Gentleman, start your engines!" 

Actually, I've found a lot of good theological/life lessons in racing.  From teamwork ideas, to the reality of grace.  One year, during an all star race, it started raining right after the start and a couple cars slid in the rain and wrecked.  My 24 team was one of them.  But since it was the rain's fault, and since it was an all-star thing, they let those teams make repairs and re-enter the race.  The 24 went on to win.  So, did he win because he was the best that night, or because NASCAR allowed him back into the thing to begin with?  Good picture of grace, I thought.  He only won because of bending the rules to let him in.  (Ironically, after writing this I found an article on the Lifeway pastor's blog that uses a NASCAR illustration to start it off.  Guess I'm not so far out there after all!)

But anyway, redneck or not, meditation promoting or not, I love racing.  I love the speed.  I love the bumping and spinning.  I love the steam coming out of the hoods, and sometimes out of the driver's helmets.  Maybe it's just my little compromise with my baser self (kind of like my wife's love of bull riding).  But I love racing.  In fact, my trip to the Bristol night race is still one of my life's highlights.  (Thanks again, Brother Ron!)  Great stuff. 

So give it a shot, if you haven't.  You might just like it. 

1 comment:

Gregg Metcalf said...

I have never been into Nascar, Closest I ever got was when I met and assisted Dale Earnhart for a day when we had him at the dealership I worked at for a signing.He was a nice guy.