Something absolutely amazing is happening for the Lord this season. He is working through Kingdom Racing in ways we could never have imagined. Sure, we’ve hoped for such things, but for them to come true? Simply preposterous!
Prior to each race weekend, many prayers are sent asking God to send the right people before us to help grow His ministry in the world of motorsports. Further prayers ask for the wisdom and guidance to positively impact those in need of Christ’s Love in our presence. And God is delivering in expectedly perfect proportion on both accounts.
There are two common facets in those whom God sends before us for ministry growth. They deeply love our Lord, Jesus Christ, and they have a specific, unrelenting passion for INDYCAR racing. Such was the case at St. Petersburg, at Alabama, and again last weekend at Long Beach. We never know who to look for, but nevertheless, they suddenly show up and we are dazzled at God’s Glory in answering our prayers for building His kingdom.
Likewise, those He sets before us in need of Christ’s Love are similarly drawn in by the passion and pageantry of INDYCAR. It is evident that God is using the lure of INDYCAR racing to draw sheep to His flock. There are some we see regularly as they travel from race to race, allowing our friendships to build and fellowship to grow. There are others we may see only once, but in that fleeting moment we must bear the yoke of Christ and share His Love as it may be our only opportunity. The discipline to be followed is that Kingdom Racing must and shall project an image of Christ in our every thought, spoken word, and action because whether we get to spend five minutes or a full season with someone, we are charged as Christ’s disciples to profess and share His Love and spread His Message to the world.
Make no mistake, the success of the Schmidt Hamilton team, the No. 77 car driven by Simon Pagenaud, and the media attention that has followed as a result have delivered incredible amounts of focus and lots of investigative eyes upon the entire organization. This has been God’s doing, and of no other. He has blessed the team with top finishes in each of the first three races and a near win in Long Beach that have propelled Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports and Simon Pagenaud to third place in the championship point standings heading into Brazil.
We stood on the roof of a hotel in the middle of the Long Beach race circuit, counting down the laps as Simon piloted the No. 77 car at the front of the field in California. Quickly, we huddled and prayed, acknowledging that this was all part of God’s plan and that it was of no human manufacture. In the end, God provided Schmidt Hamilton and Kingdom Racing with a second place finish in one of the most prestigious and coveted American motorsports events, the Grand Prix of Long Beach. It was a moment of celebration, both for God’s kingdom and His human servants.
After the race was over and the champagne had flowed to every deserving team member, Kingdom Racing personnel did what they had been called to do, they ran out and gathered the tubs of food, soap, and shampoo for the area homeless they’d similarly set out for the INDYCAR Ministry a couple of days earlier. Our mission in Long Beach was clear. It was for the Lord and not for a trophy, or fame, or fortune. We came to serve Him and were overjoyed at the blessing to do so.
The next race on the INDYCAR schedule is in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It is painful that Kingdom Racing will not be attending Brazil as it is one of the few international, limited personnel races of the season. The dream is that soon, we will be able to open a ministry channel through the Brazil race and solidify a mission for us to go forth and witness the Lord in this locale. In time, that will surely come but for now, it must wait.
We feel the same around the table at Kingdom Racing this year, “the best is yet to come.” That sentiment goes in kind for the on track activity with Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports as well as our ministry outreach around the INDYCAR Series schedule. If one would have written down the things we’ve experienced, the contacts made through God, or the way things have turned out on the track over the first three races this season, it is very doubtful that any of us would have foreseen such amazing success in our ministry or written a more perfect script. It just goes to show that God has better things planned than our own imaginations can possibly muster.
For now, we sit back and watch what happens in Brazil before heading for one of our most important outreach opportunities on the schedule, the 96th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 27th. We have great things planned for the month of May. But one thing is for certain, God has even greater things in mind. And each of us at Kingdom Racing cannot wait to see how the month unfolds. The best is surely yet to come. Amen to that!
“One day very soon, we'll all be old men. And unlike most old men, we won't sit around and regret the things we never did, because we did them. We took the plunge, sacrificed, and made a difference in this world for God.”
Barber Motorsports Park, situated in Birmingham, Alabama, is easily the most picturesque road course racing facility in the nation. It is simply gorgeous, itself a work of art with other works of art scattered about the grounds in just the right spots. The larger ones you just happen to stumble upon in the least imaginable location. There’s a group of ants devouring a motorcycle racer and downing a soft drink, a massive mother spider protecting her babies, an inflatable cathedral, and the effigy of a lady relaxing in a lake as if it were her personal bathtub. The less conspicuous items fall under foot at nearly every step about the facility. Representations of animals, flora, fauna, along with various mechanical objects are embedded and imprinted within the poured concrete wherever you walk.
One thing is for certain, God knows exactly what He is doing with Kingdom Racing in 2012. For the second time in as many weeks, He placed the right people at the right time before us for sharing and spreading His word at the Grand Prix of Alabama. The pastor of a church in Montgomery, whose wife has a connection with Sam Schmidt, approached us with his growing family and was enthralled to hear how we are serving His kingdom through the INDYCAR Series. Another man and his son from a local church in Birmingham sought us out having made previous contact and wanted to know more about Kingdom Racing and how they might help in our mission once we return to race again in 2013 and beyond.
Both of these unplanned meetings fit well within our goal for the weekend of establishing some sort of foothold within the community in which to build upon our ministry outreach for next season. We prayed about it. We listened. We showed up, and God sent the right people directly to us to begin opening that door of ministry for the future. It never fails to amaze each and every one of us to watch God work through Kingdom Racing. Each week, all we have to do is show up and stay visible. God does the rest. That’s just how He is. But the important thing is that we must be there to act upon the opportunities He provides.
Another salient aspect of the weekend worthy of note was that I took an old friend of mine along for the trip and another team member, Tim Carrie, brought his family to Barber from Indianapolis. For the entire lot this was their first time to not only see the inner workings of a professional INDYCAR team up close and personal, but also the work that Kingdom Racing and the INDYCAR Ministry are doing behind the scenes and throughout the series paddock for Christ. And with each, they came away duly impressed with what they saw, having been moved surely by the Spirit.
Without argument, a big part of the reason for the success of our outreach has to do with the success of the platform He has given us this year with Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports. On the track, Simon Pagenaud qualified the No. 77 car in tenth place and finished fifth in a hard fought battle with top contenders at a race course predominantly known for its lack of passing. Simon and the team, amid spectacular race strategy, surgical teamwork, and superb driving ability, finished one spot better than last week for a Top Five. Amid the fans, competitors, and reporters, people are standing up and taking notice that the No. 77 is the real deal and will be up front to contend for race wins at every stop this season. Certainly, it is God who provided this platform, putting all of the talent together in one team to go out and win.
The Grand Prix of Alabama was a rousing success, not just on the track, but once again, behind the scenes. How many souls we impacted for Christ will never be known, but the few we did reach and talk to here and there, even if only for a moment, will surely have far-reaching effects into the future of building His kingdom.
The INDYCAR Series has a week off on the schedule before heading to California for the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the premier street racing event in America. That week off is a silly illusion. Fans might see it, but behind the scenes, there is no off-week. The Schmidt Hamilton team spent two days testing the No. 77 car at Texas Motor Speedway this week in preparation for the mid-June night race. The beloved truckies, Frank Camacho and Jason Bolles, drove the team transporter from Alabama to Indianapolis, then to Texas and back to Indy a couple of days later. How they find time to sleep is a mystery. Perhaps this serves a point of Christian reality. In racing, just as in our walk with God, there is no time off. Fans and churchgoers alike are apt to head to the track or sanctuary once a week, offer their devotions and head back home until returning for the big event a week later. What they miss are all of the little details that go into running that race or living a Christian life. There is no time off. Teams must work hard to win and a soul must seek Christ constantly to maintain the Walk.
Returning to the opening quote, it was something that just struck and made sense. Thinking of my dad on his deathbed and all the sorrowful words and scenes of regret he spewed forth in those final bitter weeks and days, it became clear that I don’t share his sentiment. Because I heard God calling me to somewhere else in life, He drew a path directly to Kingdom Racing. Now, as I sit each day at a desk or out and about at the various racing facilities of the nation, God is being served in everything we do. The world and its honors have been forsaken in exchange for servitude in Jesus Christ. And the satisfaction brought about in that, along with seeing and feeling Him work through Kingdom Racing is greater than any worldly pursuit conceivable. Kingdom Racing is in the right place as He directed and it will be exciting to see what God has in store for us in California and onward. As always, we’ll certainly find out and be astonished at His mastery!
Don't forget to check out the Kingdom Racing Facebook Page for photos and videos from race weekend! https://www.facebook.com/KingdomRacing
What an incredible start to the 2012 INDYCAR season! As with the arrival of spring, there is always something inspiring that comes with the annual process of renewal and rebirth. At one point, opening weekend seemed eons away but as it neared, it couldn't begin soon enough.
It wasn't until entering the track for the first time on Thursday afternoon to pick up credentials that one was reminded of so many things missed since walking in stunned silence out of Las Vegas Motor Speedway last October. The INDYCAR family had come back together and five months of solemn dormancy gave quickly away to the promising fresh sprout of a new and magnificent blossom.
They say you don't know what you've got until its gone, and the closeness of the INDYCAR family had been absent for far too long. Seeing familiar faces, meeting and welcoming new ones, and suddenly realizing you’ve graduated beyond neophyte status infused the soul with fresh motivation. It was time to get the party started we've all been longing for to help us heal and gain closure to a painful episode in our lives. Mostly, we were all ready to move forward and go racing.
This is poised to be a breakthrough season for Kingdom Racing. After an exciting winter, a deal came together to partner with Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports, the new collaboration between INDYCAR veterans Sam Schmidt and Davey Hamilton. With everything final and all the gears moving in unison, it was evident that God had maneuvered us where He needed us to be to expand the incredible Kingdom Racing story. Beyond the SHM race team, our partnership includes something else quite amazing and inspirational itself, the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, whose mission it is to lead the charge to cure paralysis.
A couple of us ran the 5K race alongside Sam on Friday night to benefit the Foundation. It was an incredibly uplifting experience and allowed Kingdom Racing to talk and fellowship with Sam while jogging through the race course and nearby streets of downtown St. Petersburg. It is definitely something that we are looking forward to doing again next year and we would encourage everyone to do the same.
On the racing side of things, the debut of Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports and rookie driver sensation, Simon Pagenaud, was superb by every measure. We finished the final practice session on Saturday on top of the speed chart and competed in our first “Firestone Fast Six” competition, eventually qualifying in sixth. Perhaps the only disappointing news of the weekend was the fact that the team had to take a ten-spot penalty on the starting grid due to having to change out the engine on Honda’s recommendation after the second practice on Friday. This put Simon and the Schmidt Hamilton team in sixteenth position to start the race on Sunday. In the end after an exciting race, Simon was able to work his way back up through the field and finish right where he qualified, in sixth. The smiles and salutations throughout the pit box were rampant and infectious and a sure signal of things to come this season.
The racing side of things was a rousing success, and definitely a tribute to how God has placed Kingdom Racing in the perfect home for the 2012 season and beyond. It is simply awe inspiring to see how He’s expanded our platform to spread His Word. And in that respect, St. Petersburg was an incredible success as well, if not more than what took place on the track.
Even as much as we make plans around the conference table at Kingdom Racing, we always show up at the track to find out that God has distinctly different plans for us and we have to be ready to serve Him. That was definitely true in Florida. God put many unforeseen deviations in our path and, in each instance, we took His command and followed along His lead in silent amazement. A lot of time was spent meeting and witnessing to several people God placed before us that we could never have anticipated. Also, several things happened which took our focus away from racing and returned it to the true mission of Kingdom Racing, that of kingdom-building for Christ. It has become a mantra of sorts for us, racing comes second to the kingdom. That fact is evident even in our name and logo. The various opportunities God placed before us to serve Him were amazing and inspiring. One cannot help but to praise God for the blessings He delivers time and again in our mission.
We certainly can’t wait to do it again. We head off now to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama for the next race. Like always, we have plans for what we’d like to focus on and accomplish while there. It is without question that God has other plans for us and those plans will absolutely be revealed on His schedule. When they are, Kingdom Racing will be ready for the challenge. We’ll be there to cheer on and support the Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports team and Simon Pagenaud, but we’ll also be there to do the same for those who God puts before us and sends us to work. And that is the greatest blessing of all. We’ll be there. We’ll show up. Unequivocally, God has great plans for us when we arrive.
Please keep Kingdom Racing, Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports, and the entire INDYCAR community in your prayers as we travel onward to serve Him and deliver God’s Word through motorsports.
As the calendar lunges forth into 2012 to be welcomed with open arms and hearts, it is well worth taking a look back at the year God graciously provided Kingdom Racing in 2011.
Southwest Airlines preaches to its employees that it's not an airline company. It is a customer service company that just happens to fly airplanes. Keeping customers happy is their core business. Quite similarly, many people are pleasantly surprised to learn that Kingdom Racing is not just a racing team, but rather a Christian ministry that races cars. That aspect is pertinent. Among everything He charges us with, racing comes second. The Kingdom of Christ always comes first and foremost.
Without question, the 2011 INDYCAR season beaconed to be one of great promise for Kingdom Racing. By season's end, it had surpassed even our most extravagant spiritual imaginations.
On the surface, it could be said that everything began in May at Indianapolis. The reality, however, was that so much planning, coordination, and re-organization had gone into the off-season just to make the Indianapolis 500 happen for Kingdom Racing and Davey Hamilton.
God tested us early and often throughout the entire year. 2011 began with the expectation that Davey Hamilton would team with fellow INDYCAR veteran Tony Kanaan at De Ferran Dragon Racing. That deal unraveled unexpectedly, leaving both drivers searching for rides. Davey quickly recovered by signing a deal with Dreyer and Reinbold Racing for three races, Indianapolis, Texas, and Las Vegas, while Tony landed safely at another team. Heading into Indianapolis, Davey stated that he’d been given the best prepared car he's ever had for The Race and was looking forward to driving in his 11th “500.” He was right. We showed up and the car looked sharp, a definite attention-grabber.
The fabulous month of May began on the 13th with load-in day at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Though things got off to a slow start in the initial practice sessions, excitement and anticipation filled the air for what the month had in store. Davey was part of a four car effort at Indy, teaming with Paul Tracy, Justin Wilson, and Ana Biatriz. On Pole Day, Davey thrilled the crowd by placing the No. 11 car on the outside of the 5th row in 15th position. We'd asked our fans around the world to pray for Davey's qualification run and so many fans later contacted us to let us know they did just that. On that run, Davey somehow found speed he'd not had all month long. We're giving credit to the prayers, though the team did a superb job as well.
May 29th brought the Centennial running of the famed Indianapolis 500. For anyone who loves The Race, it was incredibly special just to be there on that day, 100 years after the first running of such an iconic American sporting event. Following last year's first lap heartbreak, Davey and his Dreyer & Reinbold team started from 15th and held strong all day, finishing 24th. Though we didn't win the 500, we definitely won the month of May at the Speedway for Christ.
So much more went on in the background throughout the month of May that showed everyone that Kingdom Racing was exactly where we were supposed to be. Through our infield outreach programs we touched the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of race fans with the message of Christ. The people we met and prayed with and the feedback received from them was simply phenomenal. To witness some of the situations which brought fans together with the Kingdom Racing ministry was truly awe-inspiring in that we definitely serve an incredibly amazing God!
After a short two-week break in the action, Kingdom Racing picked right back up where we left off at Texas Motor Speedway on the weekend of June 10th and 11th. We carried onward with Davey to the track where he nearly lost his life exactly ten years prior. A new race format was on order with twin 275-kilometer contests being run on the same night with an hour-long intermission between.
Again at Texas, Kingdom Racing had a booth and stage on the midway outside the track along with a show car that fans could sit in and have their pictures taken. That was very popular with fans and helped draw them into our message. We handed out hundreds of hero cards and a spectacular performance by a great Christian band kept the crowd entertained. It gave them one more reason to stop and ask "Who is Kingdom Racing?" This has become one of our favorite things to hear, because each time it is asked, we realize God has opened the door for us to share His Message of salvation. We even had a former US astronaut, Doug Clifford, alongside to share his amazing story of triumph and devotion in the face of adversity. After a fun-filled day and two relatively clean INDYCAR races, Davey brought home 27th and 25th place finishes to seal another successful weekend of sharing the News of Christ with race fans.
Later that month, Kingdom Racing signed on to partner with AFS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Snowball Express to bring a sensational young British driver named Martin Plowman into his debut in the INDYCAR Series. This came about through the work of our own Joe Petersen, who managed to help put all of the pieces in place for a great team of people to come together for several great causes. First of all, it allowed us to support Snowball Express, the charity for the families of fallen American soldiers since 9/11. Kingdom Racing and the team would be hosting several Snowball families at each of the races. Secondly, Martin Plowman is a talented young Christian man and he would be getting his much deserved baptism into the top echelon of motorsport. Lastly, it would give Kingdom Racing a chance to provide direct Christian outreach to those families affected by tragedy along with many other fans.
Everything kicked off in August, beginning at Mid-Ohio on the first weekend of the month and again three weeks later at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, before culminating on Labor Day weekend on the streets of Baltimore. At each track, the Kingdom Racing team hosted multiple Snowball families and provided them royal treatment throughout the event. They got to dine in the exclusive INDYCAR Paddock Club, the kids got to pick out some awesome merchandise from the souvenir stands, and the families got to sit down and watch the races with Kingdom Racing and Snowball Express team members.
Perhaps the highlight of hosting the families, though, came after the race when they were taken behind the scenes to meet Martin, get his autograph, and have their pictures taken with him and "their" racecar. But the fun didn't stop there. Nope. Martin picked up each and every child and placed them in the driver's seat and let them feel what it was like to sit in a real racecar and have a real racing driver as a friend. The smiles on their faces told us everything we needed to know. These were all deeply wounded children who'd lost a father to the war on terror and they very rarely smiled. To see such huge smiles was a monumental emotional victory. In the three races, Martin Plowman finished 18th, 12th, and 11th respectively, but the most amazing work happened off-track, away from the spotlight. And it meant the world to those kids and their moms. It was clear that our outreach provided a significant positive impact for those children, an impact they delivered in return to all of us. There was no doubt that God was acting through us. We saw that happen a lot this year.
At last, we came to the final race weekend of the 2011 schedule, the highly-anticipated INDYCAR World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada, scheduled for October 16th, 2011. It was to be an exciting punctuation to an amazing season.
We had huge plans for Las Vegas. We'd hoped to announce our team expansion for the 2012 season. We'd planned an appearance with Davey and a show car at a local church. We'd planned to have a Christian ministry outreach outside of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, similar to that at Texas in June. One by one, each and every one of those plans fell through, to our frustration. A couple of weeks before the race, we held a conference call to decide if we would even go. After much thought and prayer, the team made the unanimous decision to go and let God use us as He saw fit. So we followed His lead.
There we were in Las Vegas with nothing to do but watch Davey Hamilton finish off the 2011 INDYCAR season. We had no news. We had no outreach. We were just "there" for God’s use. The feeling among the team was palpable and it seemed almost like we were just ready to get it over with and start planning for 2012. To repeat, racing comes second to our work for the Kingdom of God. Our frustration welled from the fact that all there was in Vegas was racing. There was no Christian outreach and it had us a little bummed. Nevertheless, we showed up and were ready to serve God and support Davey.
Suddenly, the horror of lap 11 happened and shook the racing world to its foundation while we lost a loved one. Dan Wheldon was our friend and competitor and his death hit everyone in the paddock very hard. But it became immediately clear why the agenda "we" had planned had been cancelled out. God needed Kingdom Racing there for a different reason, and in the wake of a horrific tragedy amongst a close-knit racing family, we stepped up to provide prayer, comfort, and support in a time of great anguish and suffering among people we love. One of Dan's closest friends, his protégé of sorts, the kid who Danny took under his wing and had influenced to come to America and race INDYCAR rather than chase Formula One, had company throughout that painful day and night. Kingdom Racing was "there" by Martin's side to comfort, to pray, and to help try to crawl out of the agonizing fog together. The frustration we'd felt was replaced with sadness, yes, but also with an amazing sense of God's perfect plan. He knew what was best for us and made sure that the plans we'd been making weren't there to block His own.
We serve an amazing God. Time has passed slowly it seems since the horrible events in Vegas. But through God and our faith in Jesus Christ, we have come out of that dark cloud and stand ready for the challenges ahead. Kingdom Racing is poised and chomping at the bit to get 2012 underway. As is to be expected, we are already running into obstacles and barriers blocking the path "we" have planned. And we keep reminding ourselves that everything will happen in the time He has allotted for it to happen. All we know is that we are where we need to be. We didn't make Kingdom Racing, God did. We didn't seek Kingdom Racing, it sought us. Thankfully, we've chosen to rise up and follow His lead and we look forward to what He has planned for us next. In conclusion, we know why God sent Kingdom Racing to the INDYCAR field, to serve Him by sharing the message of His hope and love with all who seek answers. And we're going to continue to stay the true path and finish the race.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” - Isaiah 40:28-31
May you and yours have a festive and happy 2012.
From all of us at Kingdom Racing,
God bless and Godspeed,