The Indianapolis 500 is a grueling, gut-wrenching, energy-sapping experience for all involved. In the full seventeen-day May schedule, race day is the most brutal of all. It takes some time to recover from and thus the delay in this post. The day following the 500, I packed up the car and drove nearly sixteen hours back to Texas. To say that I'm exhausted is an understatement. But it must also be stated that, all of it, every single moment, was worth the weeks of sacrifice. More than running The Race, we did what we came to do, share the word of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. And each of us on the team had that opportunity.
We converged on Indianapolis from many directions, carrying disparate backgrounds. An author and computer engineer. A banker. A driver. A media guru. A healer. A lifelong friend. A pharmacist. All came together around the middle of May to begin working toward a common goal, the quest to capture the Borg-Warner Trophy, the holy grail for winning the most prestigious auto race in the world, the 95th and Centennial Anniversary Indianapolis 500. It was already billed as "The Most Important Race in History."
I've been a fan of the Indianapolis 500 my entire life. Until last year, I had only traveled up from Texas to Indy for The Race and returned immediately afterward. Last year was eye opening. It also opened the door for me to do it again, yet this time in a called capacity beyond my wildest imaginations.
I must thank God, first and foremost, for allowing me the gracious opportunity and ability to take part in something I've long held an intense passion for. WIthout God's guidance, support, and intenational design, none of us would be here. Yet, we came from all over to strive toward a common end, to capture the trophy for God's glory.
It was the little things though that made these collective trips and sacrifices worthwhile. The racing actually took a back seat to God's real mission for all of us at Kingdom Racing. We toured through a domestic violence shelter of God's design and creation. We touched the lives of a man from South Africa as well as another from France, not by circumstance, but per His deliberate will. At the inaugural Indy 500 Breakfast on May 28th, the Saturday before The Race's 100th Anniversary, there were exactly, EXACTLY, 100 decisions made for Jesus Christ. When writing the book "Long Kiss: An American Ritual," it just so happened that it ended up being precisely 100 chapters. God knows exactly what He is doing, and He shows us His works through numbers sometimes. How fitting, delightful, and poignant that God would see fit to remind us that He is there through the century mark.
Make no bones about it, but God speaks to race fans through numerology in nearly every single facet of INDYCAR racing and the Indianapolis 500. God is there. Jesus Christ is there, if you will only look. They say that racing is about life. Truer words have never been spoken. It is about life, because it is about God. His presence permeates the series and The Race, just waiting to be discovered. He is there. You just have to look to see Him.
On Race day, the car was packed and we made it into the track by Six o'clock in the morning. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was already filling up. Word came that there had been a couple of tragic incidents on Georgetown Road earlier that morning with two people being stabbed and another being run over by a car. This news was discovered after carrying my equipment into the IMS Media Center to claim a spot for the day's activities.
My wife, Jennifer, along with the del Canto family and several others from Kingdom Racing, attended the Eight-thirty INDYCAR Ministry chapel service in the Media Center press conference room. In all my years following the Indianapolis 500 and the INDYCAR Series, nothing has impressed me more or been more meaningful than the INDYCAR Ministry. To attend chapel service with Rev. Bob Hills is a distinct honor. It is only during chapel service that you really get to see how close-knit the INDYCAR community is, not only with each other, but also with God and Christ. Every service is complete with the receiving of Communion, and in that room folks from all over the paddock break the Body and share the Blood of Christ as one. It is an amazing sensation, and better than any which take place out on the track during The Race. It is too bad then that the chapel service goes unnoticed, unseen by the masses who need to see that. If there is anything that the INDYCAR fans need to see, it is the community worshipping God with one another, members from different teams, united in Christ. It is quite simply, beautiful.
Immediately after chapel came the call to place all cars out on pit lane, followed soon thereafter by the order to begin gridding them out on the racetrack. Spending time on the grid at Indianapolis on Race day is awe-inspiring and surreal. Wandring about the various teams and celebrities makes you feel like a superstar in a way. But just as quickly, the level head of a Christian reminds you of just how lucky you are to have been given such an opportunity. You feel more than anything else that you do not belong out there with all of the pageantry and glitter and glam. But you are there nonetheless.
This year, I disobeyed orders and stayed out on the grid well past the time that my cold pit pass expired. Sporting a team jersey made it easy to blend in and stave off the officials trying to clear everyone else. I stood with my Kingdom Racing brothers and sisters, as well as with Davey Hamilton and his father, Ken, for all of the pre-race festivities, all the way up to engine start and roll-off of the fastest thirty-three drivers this May. Once all cars bolted off the line, I ran and made it into the Media Center just before the green flag fell. My vantage point was obscured. It was the first start of an Indianapolis 500 that I've not been able to see directly, either through television or in person, since 1985. But I was okay with that. I had work to do for Kingdom Racing. And that duty came first before any of my own selfish desires.
After the start, I went back to my desk on the second floor of the Media Center, and began uploading photos while paying close attention to all of the track monitors. Davey's day did not start out so good. And it only got worse as The Race went on.
The entire duration of The Race was spent trying to balance out coverage of what others were doing on track with what our driver, and my friend, Davey Hamilton, was doing as well. With early troubles on pit road, including an unfortunate incident with another competitor, frustration set in early for the entire crew, including yours truly hidden away in a forgotten closet with a bunch of other reporters.
But as the day wore on, I became enthused and my spirits lifted. The Christianity in me rose up and reminded me that there is a lesson to be learned in everything, whether good or bad. And our team was out there doing badly. Davey was struggling with the car and doing his best to just keep it in the running. On nealy every restart, the last car across the start/finish line was the No. 11 machine. It remained that way all day. But then I could see the lesson. Davey didn't quit. The team didn't quit either. At one point, Davey was two laps down and there remained a very slight chance that he could come back and contend for the win. But then he went down three laps, then four, five, and six. Even though it was woefully apparent that Davey and the No. 11 would have no chance at all of winning the Indianapolis 500, they kept digging.
I was not associated with Davey or Kingdom Racing last year, but I know the story of what happened all too well. After completing the first lap of the 2010 Indianapolis 500, Davey had to avoid the aggressive driving of another competitor. He lost control of the car and crashed out of The Race before making it to the second lap. Knowing the people, the organization, and the Mission now, I can only begin to fathom the heartbreak they must have endured. It must have been horribly deflating.
But what Davey did on Sunday was twofold. He came back and put the car in The Race, and he kept chugging away when he and the entire team knew that there was no chance of winning. What Davey and the team did was finish the race. And, as one car after another crashed out of the contest, Davey moved up the chart, eventually finishing in 24th position.
You see, Davey Hamilton may not have won the 95th Indianapolis 500, the world's greatest race on its 100th Anniversary, but he came back and won the day by finishing The Race.
And that is exactly how we should live our lives in Christ. We need not win The Race. We need only to win the day, to find defeat unacceptable, to finish what we started and stick with it through to the end. It was not God's intent for us to win the 500. Perhaps one day we will. I've even told George that one day Kingdom Racing WILL win the 500, but it will only happen when God is ready for it to happen.
It used to be that I came to Indianapolis every year for this silly little race called the Indy 500. And being absolutely honest, I still do. But this year came with a different charge, a different and deeper purpose. I did not make the 926 mile drive from Texas to Indianapolis to just go to The Race. I came to share the word of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ through Kingdom Racing's efforts. And we were very successful at that. We were successful when we visited the Sheltering Wings Center for Women in Danville. We were successful when we ministered to people all over the race track from all walks of life and across the globe. We were successful when there were exactly 100 decisions for Christ at the Indy 500 Breakfast. And we were successful when Davey completed the Indianapolis 500 in a car carrying the Kingdom Racing logo. We were successful because we came here to do what God had charged us to do, nothing more, and nothing less. And victory was attained when we all left the Indianapolis Motor Speedway satisfied that we had obeyed His commands and not upset that we didn't win.
Kingdom Racing is a work in progress. We are growing in Christ everyday. We've not yet won an Indianapolis 500. We've not won any INDYCAR race. But rest assured that every race that we qualify for and every race we run is a victory for Him. It's like I remind the Kingdom Racing family, it's about the Kingdom, not the Racing.
Kingdom Racing will be back. Davey Hamilton will run the races at Texas Motor Speedway on June 11th and again in Las Vegas on October 16th. Texas will be a triumphant return for Davey since that was the scene of his horrific and life-changing crash. He's not run there since. That he is even back to run the race is one of God's miracles. And we will be back next year at Indy, sharing the word of God through our work at the racetrack.
That is what Kingdom Racing is all about. We win everyday, knowing our greatest trophy awaits us in heaven, not here on earth.
See you at the races!
Social Media Director