NASCAR and Christianity; Do they mix?

Sunday afternoons, I like to relax

I have always been told the importance of an illustration when preaching. Here is an article that illustrates the Christian life to drafting on a super speedway (i.e. Daytona or Talladega). I only in recent years have become a NASCAR fan while working on my Masters of Divinity degree in Mississippi, and of all things it was a pocket of New Jersey people and a Texan who got me hooked…imagine that. Do you find this to be a good illustration or a bad one? Maybe you have a better illustration that includes NASCAR and Christianity, let’s here it.

20 thoughts on “NASCAR and Christianity; Do they mix?

  1. Ron,
    I guess it could be good for some sermon illustrations. However, the part about restrictor plates may be a stretch. Restrictor plates has such a bad connotation; God’s “restrictor plate” for us (I guess our mouths) shouldn’t viewed as negatively as NASCAR’s. All the drivers complain about them, whereas alot of Christian don’t look at their own as a hinderance. I hope this makes sense.
    Thanks, though, for putting up a piece that I can understand.

    The only real controversy I see is this…you can’t be a Christian and route for any of the Hendricks cars. We’re not supposed to support homosexuals, right?

  2. Jack Jr,
    Good point about the restrictor plates. I think I could preach out of James 3 on the subject of taming the tongue and illustrate restrictor plates. I can see that NAPA commercial right now with Dale Jr. slapping a restrictor plate onto Michael Waltrip’s mouth.

    Now about the Hendricks team, if they are a bad example, what would be a good one…DEI? If you notice I strategically placed a picture of Dale Sr.’s #3 car in front of Jeff Gordon’s #24 car. Cool picture,huh?

  3. I think NASCAR is the bane of Western Society.

    AHA! You Jersey folk aren’t the only ones who can dish one out a time or two.

    Actually I gave up on NASCAR after Bill “Benedict Arnold” Elliott switched from Ford to Dodge. And also, if Joe Gibbs wisened up and moved back to football then there must be some serious problems with the NASCAR industry…. GO SKINS!

  4. Ron,
    I thought the illustraton was good and would definitely have a lot of appeal in most congregations; but I was disappointed with the application. It seemed to me to come from a “Western” mindset of individual effort and accountability before God. The main application was in the arena of evangelism–which is okay. But the entire NASCAR story made the point that you can’t “win the race” or (in a sense) finish the race without a friend (could we say “community”) assisting you. I would have put some “Eastern” relational spin on the illustration and preached on the church, not evangelism. Nice post, though, I think I’ll use it when I preach this Sunday!

    I think I learned something about NASCAR, though.

  5. Ron,
    Great picture – you can’t get much better than seeing Sr. in front of Gordon. Of course in my mind he is lapping Gordon.
    Now, while the author may not have all the techinical aspects of restrictor plate racing right, I thought it was a pretty good illustration overall. In fact, I think that if there is any sport to take an illustration from, it ought to be NASCAR. After all, what other sport has its own minister, Sunday morning services, and a nationaly broadcasted prayer before each event?

    TG

  6. Hey Sean,
    I almost forgot to respond to your post.
    Bill Elliot can’t help it if he is a smart man and finally saw the light.
    Also, the question isn’t what is wrong with NASCAR, but what is wrong with the NFL and the Redskins in particular that he would have to go rescue them?

    Go Cowboys!

  7. I personally liked the concept of NASCAR and the spiritual life, but it seems to breakdown for me when we think about racing against another person. That is where the author tried to tie in the idea of drafting, making it more of a community effort. As we know, in NASCAR drafting only occurs until the white flag is dropped and there is one lap left and then it is ever man for himself.

  8. To all,

    Texas Redneck thanks for the visual of sr lapping Gordon. It reminded of a famous clip of Sr. looking in his rearview as he passed his competition. You thoughts led me to this comparison.

    In the sameway, that is how it has been and continue to be on the Eagle’s perch in the NFC East. The Eagles flying by the also rans! Parcells nor Gibbs can bail out those two sorry franchises.

    Go Iggles!

    PS – The analogy is a very functional understanding of God and can lead to a wrong worldview.

  9. Tex,

    I gotta’ tell you, I literally laughed out loud when I read your comment. You totally caught me off guard with the “Go Cowboys!” I didn’t expect anyone to really pay any attention to the Gibbs comment, and I really didn’t expect anyone to make the connection with the Cowboys. But then again, you are a Texas Redneck, so I should’ve known.

    As a word to all you playa-haters out there: The Skins will dominate the NFL once more. I don’t know, maybe Gibbs needs to go retro and produce a couple of new one-time wonders like Doug Williams or Mark Rypien? But whatever he does, he will turn around that sorry team that Dan Snyder has ruined and make them great once more!

    Hail to the
    Redskins!
    Hail Victory!
    Braves on the warpath,
    Fight for old D.C.!

    Run or pass and score
    We want a lot more!
    Beat ’em Swamp ’em Touchdown
    Let the points soar!

    Fight on, Fight on,
    Til you have won,
    Sons of Wash-ing-ton!
    Rah! Rah! Rah

    And Jake, I think the Eagles need to try a different approach to the post-season. They are dangerously close to becoming the Atlanta Braves of the NFL….

  10. Sean,

    There is some truth in regard to the eagle’s post season woes. Slow and steady is the eagles approach. Three points from football glory!

    But I ask you, when was the last time the skins sniffed the post season?

    Oh yeah, if we are doing baseball comparisons then perhaps the skins would be similar to the yankees. Oh Shucks, that won’t work! Yes the skins pay for all the old, washed up players, but they never make it to the playoffs. I will try harder next time.

    Go Iggles

  11. Jake & Sean,
    You two can keep dinking around with the Iggles and Skins, but another commercial comes to my mind. The commercial has Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the back field with his #8 Chevy. He is given the handoff and away he goes with defenders hanging all over him. When he reaches the endzone, he does some donuts. Not much competition now is it?

  12. Earnhardt, you must remember, drives a Chevy, therefore he is doomed to stall. Besides, do you really think a Chevy NASCAR could outrun a healthy Clinton Portis?

  13. Iggles have no shot at winning anything!

    No Quarterback since #12
    No coach since Buddy Ryan.

    Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells will wipe the floor with them!

    Howard Eskin

  14. I’m going to pull a “Sean” and remind us that this post was not about football, rather (more importantly) about NASCAR and Christianity.

  15. Ron,
    You are right that the illustration breaks down when you look at racing one another. Yet, if you look at the success that multi-car teams are having these days (especially Hendrick and Roush) then you could draw an illustration for the need of each other if we are going to succeed. Even better though, you could look at each driver and crew and discuss not only the need for each other, but also how different people (driver, crew chief, tire changers, fabricators, mechanics and all the rest) come together to make one team.
    Now, these illustrations may not be perfect, but I think that given the popularity of NASCAR that chances are pretty good they would resonate well. Thus, if these sorts of illustrations can engage someone’s mind into actually thinking about Biblical concepts and if they are able to give them a means of understanding, then I think they are very appopriate.

    P.S. – Sean, which car manufacture is the winningest in NASCAR history? Oh yeah, that would be Chevy. (Sorry Ron, but I couldn’t resist)

  16. Tex,
    I fear that I’m going to get harrassed for agreeing with you so much, but you had two comments with significant points in each that everyone seemed to miss; of a matter of fact, I’m feeling like I should of had you write the article for me to post.

    In your first comment you said, “I think that if there is any sport to take an illustration from, it ought to be NASCAR. After all, what other sport has its own minister, Sunday morning services, and a nationaly broadcasted prayer before each event?” What does that say about NASCAR? Now I know that some would bring up certain personalities like Tony Stewart (who is one of the drivers I cheer for every week), but there stills seems to be some kind of respect for Christianity.

    The second comment that Tex said which seemed to go over everyone’s head was, “if you look at the success that multi-car teams are having these days (especially Hendrick and Roush) then you could draw an illustration for the need of each other if we are going to succeed. Even better though, you could look at each driver and crew and discuss not only the need for each other, but also how different people (driver, crew chief, tire changers, fabricators, mechanics and all the rest) come together to make one team.”
    Tex went on to say, “Now, these illustrations may not be perfect, but I think that given the popularity of NASCAR that chances are pretty good they would resonate well. Thus, if these sorts of illustrations can engage someone’s mind into actually thinking about Biblical concepts and if they are able to give them a means of understanding, then I think they are very appopriate.” Not only are they appropriate, but we can easily see a working organism in the secular world that illustrates what the body of Christ ought to look like. The body of Christ, or the Church, is made up of individuals participating in their gifted area. How would you like to get four tires changed, a fill-up, the windshield cleaned, an adjustment to the handleing of your car, and a drink in about 14 seconds? That is a community with a goal! That is efficientcy! We are God’s plan of bringing salvation to the world! Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. He has given His Holy Spirit to enable us to accomplish His mission, but so often we would rather do another task. Could you imagine Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulling in for his last scheduled pit stop of a race just to find out that the gas-man is arguing with the rear-tire changer, because he wants to change tires. We, I believe, are in the last stages of the race of history. Where are our churches? Are we running an efficient race? Are we an efficient team?

  17. Ron, you can preach for me on Sunday too–my people will love the Nascar illustration and I will love the application! Excellent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *