Methodist Group Helps Racers Keep the Faith
These small booklets contain a wealth of information including the evening's schedule, driver rosters and up-to-date statistics. But what most fans are surprised to learn is that the Fan Guides are produced and distributed by members of Methodist Motorsports Evangelism, a local racing ministry.
"What we do is take Jesus to the race track and try to share God's word," said 19-year-old Kannapolis, N.C., resident Chris Morgan, who drives one of Methodist Motorsports Evangelism's bright yellow Bandolero race cars. "Our biggest thing here at Charlotte Motor Speedway is handing out the Fan Guides with scripture in them."
Methodist Motorsports Evangelism was founded six years ago by Rev. Otis Snow of The United Methodist Church in Kannapolis, N.C., and fellow minister Buddy Compton. They wanted to use racing to deliver their message of faith to fans and competitors.
"We started with just one Bandolero, which I drove," Morgan explained. "From there, we started handing out the Fan Guides and it just kind of grew.
"Now we also have a prayer tent in the pits for anyone who wants to pray before the race and we also speak at a lot of rallies and revivals," Morgan added. "We even have a band called Four More that will be playing at several youth rallies this summer."
The Methodist Motorsports Evangelism race team has grown into a two Bandolero operation with the second entry driven by 15-year-old Kendall Sellers, also of Kannapolis. But while the on-track expansion has brought added exposure, it has also brought added expense.
"For the most part, our dads run the team and pay for everything," Morgan said about his and Seller's fathers. "But we do get some small donations here and there to help with the costs. It's not much, but every little bit helps."
On May 19, the Methodist Motorsports Evangelism team received a devastating blow when its trailer, containing two Bandolero race cars and the majority of the team's tools and equipment, was stolen from a hotel parking lot.
"We'd gone down to run at Atlanta Motor Speedway that Friday night," Morgan recalled. "On the way back home, we stopped for the night in Cordele, Ga. When we woke up the next morning, the trailer was gone."
Devastated, and well aware of the expense required to get back on track, the men of the Methodist Motorsports Evangelism racing team returned home to North Carolina where they experienced something they'll remember for the rest of their lives.
"When we got back from Cordele, we went to an event at Concord Motorsports Park. Kendall was supposed to race that day, but didn't because we didn't have a car," Morgan said. "When we got to the track, everyone told us if we needed anything to let them know. Then, when we got home that night there were three race cars waiting for us. From there, everybody was calling to offer assistance and it was pretty amazing how they all stepped up to help us."
As the 13th season of the 10-race Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway rolls on, so does the Methodist Motorsports Evangelism team. Morgan is competing in the Lucas Oil Bandoleros Outlaws division while teammate Sellers flies the MME banner in the Lucas Oil Young Guns.
"Really we'd just like to run competitively and finish in the top-five in points," Morgan admitted. "Though, the ultimate would be to win a race. That would prove to everybody that regardless of what happens, nothing's gonna get us down and we'll always be here."
As fate would have it, that's exactly what happened during week two of the Summer Shootout when Morgan's Bandolero, emblazoned with the Methodist Motorsports Evangelism logo, crossed the finish line as the winner of the Lucas Oil Bandolero Outlaws feature.
For information on participating in the Methodist Motorsports Evangelism program or supporting the racing team, call (704) 793-6591.
The 13th annual Summer Shootout, which runs each Tuesday night through Aug. 8 with a special Monday night event on July 3, features three classes of Bandolero racing, three divisions of Legends Cars and the Thunder Roadsters.
Adult tickets are just $5 for adults with children 6-12 admitted for $3 and kids under 6 are free. Tickets are available in advance at the speedway ticket office and at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Parking is free.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action at 5:30 p.m. Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m. and is scheduled to conclude by 10:15. For more information, call the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.