GARY WOOLMAN'S TESTIMONY
"As I think about how Kingdom Racing and I were brought together last year I’m reminded of the passage in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Last year Kingdom Racing arranged for my brother Jim and his two sons to have badges to the pits and Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To top it off, Kingdom Racing allowed my brother Jim to be on pit row on the morning of the 500 as one of their guests. What I’ve not shared yet is why those days were so important. But before I do, let me go back in time and give you some perspective.
Let’s go back to the opening day of time trials on May 13, 1967. My brother and I were invited to IMS for the opening day with a man named Lee Larmon who worked with our mother at the Brethren Missionary Herald in Indiana. Lee and his wife weren’t able to have children so he “adopted” my brother and I and would take us to sporting events like Cub games. On this day my brother and I’s love for the Indianapolis 500 was born. My brother Jim was 15 and I was a starry eyed 12-year-old who had built models of previous winner’s cars such as Rodger Ward and Parnelli Jones. What was so “cool” was seeing Parnelli drive the STP turbine and then seeing Mario take the pole setting at a new qualifying record. Little did I know what this gesture of generosity by Lee would mean to my brother and I until many years later. I remember Lee making a big deal before we ate lunch in the grandstands, surrounded by a “bunch of drunks,”-Lee's phrase. He said we needed to shine a little light on the darkness of the men’s souls that were surrounding us. This day was followed by going to the speedway for either the time trials or the race every year following 1967. When Jim got his driver’s license in 1969 we would drive two hours on May 1st to attempt being the first at the speedway (we never were-but at least we tried).
My first race was 1973 as a high school graduation gift from my parents, another example of generosity. Problem was I went down and got caught in 2 days of rain and on the third day of restart I had to work and listened to the 500 on the radio. But the next year, 1974, began my row of successive race attendance.
In 1990 some terrible events began to unfold. My mother passed away in December. My brother went to seminary school and upon graduating Summa Cum Laude he took over a small church that eventually failed. Jim met an earthly “Satan” named Michael who swept Jim away from us for over 16 years in a cult called the Cause. Then came the shock that destroyed my world; in 1992 Jim wrote my wife and I telling us he was disowning us and that we were no longer welcome in his life anymore.
I prayed for my brother that he and his family would be released from this cult for years. Finally in the spring of 2008 we got a message on our home phone from Jim saying that he wanted to talk. I called him back and found out he had left the cult and also that he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer and he wanted to mend our broken relationship. He apologized profusely and we began to talk about moving our father back to Indiana to live in a Christian retirement home.
Becky and I flew out to meet Jim and his wife at a local Denny’s for breakfast. That was the answer to all the prayers from the disowned family members after all those years. What a phenomenal and joyful day it was! We met nieces and nephews we had never met and got reacquainted with the older kids, My wife and I had some private moments where Jim again asked for forgiveness for all the wrongs he had caused our family. He admitted his lack of discernment in Michael and following him instead of Christ. He was a changed man for sure! He listened, he was sensitive, he was tender, he was remorseful, he was funny…and he was loving.
My father passed away in February 2009 after 5 months of failing health. After my father’s death Jim served as a short-term missionary in Guatemala. He taught local pastors on the dangers of false teaching. “I’m an expert in false teachers, unfortunately,” Jim said.
Then a huge chapter in our lives was with the Kingdom Racing team. They fulfilled some boyhood dreams without even knowing it. I remember Jim and I would travel to the speedway and stand by the fences just hoping to see the cars and drivers. We also talked about someday in the “future” to be in the pits on race day, and our dreams were fulfilled.
What people don’t know is the spiritual impact this had on our families. When Jim passed away on May 1st, I couldn’t help but think on this very day we would be driving down to the speedway to try and be the first one’s there and now he is sitting at the feet of our heavenly father for eternity. Who knew I would be on my brother’s bucket list to be with him when he passed from this life into heaven. Of course, God knew! Three years ago I didn’t even know Jim’s mailing address or phone number. We were strangers and now we were brothers reunited, what a blessing.
Jim and his wife had nine children. Some of his kids are struggling with their faith, but the evening of my brother’s memorial service one of their nieces accepted the Lord. She was one of the kids who went to the 500 with Jim last year and the seed of eternal life had been planted not only with Kingdom Racing’s generosity but with the teams examples of Christian love to complete strangers (prayer, kindness and sharing of faith).
My prayer now is that other children who haven’t asked Christ into their life will and those question will find answers. How mysterious are His Ways? He put two men in my life what made and are still making a difference: Lee Larmon and George Del Canto. Two men who are men of prayer, men who love others unconditionally, men who openly share their faith and men who are generous with time, talent, treasure and touch. I hope Kingdom Racing reaches its goal of reaching 1 million men for Christ."