Racetrack Ministry Make NASCAR Events a Christian Experience

( [email protected] ) Apr 26, 2004 08:41 AM EDT

Ever heard of a ministry living in the fast lane? For Alabama Raceway Ministries, by providing worship services and Christian entertainment for NASCAR fans at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama show that Christians can have the best of both worlds.

The ministry holds interdenominational church services for fans throughout several campground locations and usually receives a good response. “Christian people love racing, too. Some people come back year after year looking for us. People can worship and go to the race as well,” said Chet Roden, pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Talladega and head of the ministry at C&C Campground.

On Sunday, services from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. will take place at several locations, under ARM tents at C&C Campground on Jackson Trace Road, the West Campground, the Family Campground, the New Campground and the Infield, according to ARM coordinator Richard Alford.

ARM also makes the most of every opportunity of their time at the Talladega Superspeedway. Christian entertainment is also available to bring faith into the overall experience at the racetrack. Partnering up with Motor Racing Outreach, the ministry will host bands that play a mixture of Christian and secular music. Band performances will run Friday to Saturday, with River Band taking the stage from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Family Campground while Leo Johnson’s CrossCountry Band will lend their music to West Campground at 7 p.m., said Motor Racing Outreach spokesperson Cheryl Shore.

In addition to worship services and Christian entertainment for adults, the ministry also caters their services to children as well. On Saturday, the Timothy Cup Pinewood Derby Race will be held Saturday at the infield and C&C Campground sites, where children race their derby cars after painting it according to their favorite NASCAR.

The event allows an opportunity for children’s outreach.

“They get to race their car at least twice and the winners get a ribbon. They all get to keep their cars and we give each child a Bible,” said Roden.

While ARM sets up children-oriented activities such as derby races, face painting and balloon art, Jesters for Jesus clowns teach children the Gospel message.

To reach out other audiences, ARM will spend Thursday and Friday nights visiting the 1,000 campsites on the C&C Campground to talk to other about Jesus.

“The Bible tells Christians to go into all the world and make disciples. At the campground, the world comes to us,” Roden said.

As the volunteers converse with the people on the campsites, they will also be handing out a brochure called Racing Fun Facts that show all the worship sites the ministry is offering and a plan of salvation alongside driver scanner frequencies and a time-to-speed conversion chart.

Hot coffee, soda and bottled water are also served to people who come by the ARM tents.

Even though at times, the ministry receives mixed reactions to their services, Jacelyn Carrell of Russell Baptist Association explains the purpose of the ministry is unchanging. “We just reach out to them and share with them if they want to talk about the gospel. We try to be a tangible expression of God’s love to them,” she said.

According to Luke Williams, Coosa River Baptist Association director and ARM treasurer, ARM first began in 1982 under the name Frank Stark Raceway Ministries. It is now part of National Raceway Ministries, an interdenominational ministry that serves 23 major race tracks in the country.

“It’s about building bridges and letting people know we care about them. It’s been a positive experience for us,” he said.