Washington 500 Weekend

photo by Kyle Davis

Last weekend was the big weekend of the year for short track racing at Evergreen Speedway.  The tradition has lived for many years, and with the exception of a short hiatus, the Washington 500 weekend is where my passion for racing cars began when I was a boy.

My dad took me to the WA500 in the 80’s several times.  I’d sit in the grandstands with dad.  We’d talk about how cool, loud and fast the cars were.  It was always fun because I got to watch famous drivers like Bill Elliot, Harry Gant, and Davy Allison race the 5/8’s mile at Monroe.  Years ago, when my childhood friend invited me to the other side of the catch fence (the fence between the grandstands and the track) the WA500 weekend was the one event I always wanted to win.

I was pumped up on Sunday!  I’d been a fan, a team owner, but the last 4 years I’ve been a driver.  My rookie season I had just past legend Geoff Bodine, but got turned in a crash and lost my clutch.  My 2nd season we were running 3rd, but ran out of fuel with 2 laps to go and under caution, battled back to finish 5th.  My 2010 trip to the WA500 earned me the number one qualifying position and a trip to 2nd place on the podium.  2011 was poised to be a great race.

We unloaded at the track on Sunday morning early.  Practice revealed a handling problem.  The car was stable, but not fast, and when I would drive it hard it was just bad.  I mean really bad.  We came in and out of the pits, making several adjustments.  Nothing helped.  The guys were working hard on the car, but we needed to work on the driver.  Steve and John got out the scratch paper.  We begin to break down the track, corner for corner, so I could give them feedback on which part to fix first.  When you have a chassis problem it is imperative to fix the first problem even if the 2nd and 3rd problems are worse.  We went to work.

I qualified 9th.  I thought  if I qualified in the T-5 our changes to the car would be enough, but obviously they were not.  I really felt like we were in for a miserable day.  The car was slow, and nothing we were doing was fixing it.

I told Steve an John, “Guys, we’ve got to go big.  I don’t care what we change, just do it.”  They went to work.

We lined up in row 3 outside.  The green waved and the car was decent, much better than practice and qualifying.  We battled to 4th.  After a caution there was a restart and we were row 2 outside.  As the green waved I got a great jump and cleared the 3rd place car who was inside me at the start/finish line.

Steve said, “Clear.”

I held the my car to my line and proceeded to drive it to the bottom of the track.  You could imagine my shock and frustration when the 3rd place car slammed into my left rear wheel, knocking me sideways.  He then helped finish me off and around I went.  A full 360 degrees.  In front of the field bearing down.  Just missing the outside wall.  Not getting hit by any other drivers.  Bam, I shifted into 2nd gear and took off.  It only cost me 2 positions as I blended in with the field in 6th place!  However, the officials sent me to the back of the field.

We restarted about 15th.  On the ensuing restart we rocketed up the outside.  Passed some historically really good cars and drivers.  I thought, “We are not out of this thing yet!”  I put my head down and drove.

The car got better, and we started picking off positions.  8th on one restart.  6th on another.  Then we had a green flag run toward the end of the race.  5th.  Then 4th.

I needed a late caution as the leaders were out ahead a bit, but I was gaining on 3rd place rapidly as the white flag and checkers flew.  We ended up 4th on the day.

There is a saying in racing, “If you can’t win be the show.”  We didn’t win, in fact, we didn’t make the podium, so the only place I can acknowledge my sponsors this week is here with the above beautiful picture.  However, I got this message from a new fan, “My wife and I really enjoyed watching your aggressive driving style.”  That one-line gave us hope that at least we put on a great show for the fans at the 2011 Washington 500.  See ya on the big track July 30th!

Contractual HOPE!

Wishful thinking vs. HOPE.  The difference between what you’ve contractually got to anchor your hope to.

  • Hope based on a false reality is your greatest enemy.  You will waste years of your life anchoring hope to something false.
  • Hope based on a true reality is your greatest friend.  Hope in truth has repaired lives!!!

Three Contracts Jesus Made with YOU, YOU ARE NEVER HOPELESS!
His work on the cross emptied your container of shame and guilt.  You are forgiven, always will be forgiven and never have to worry about being forgiven again!

Romans 5:15
But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.

The impending end, judgement and punishment for sin is very will.  Jesus Christ saved you from those fates.  Not only will you pass the test, but you will pass the test with complete wholeness, because of Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:16
16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.

You may be going through stuff now and then, but the contract Jesus cut with you enables you access to the greatest life you could ever live.  You’ve got to blow up the old, embrace the new life and go for it with reckless abandon.

Romans 5:17
17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ

Missional Analysis
No Faith: Without faith Hope is a fleeting temporal thing.  We find it in another achievement, accolade or promising relationship, but it’s always temporary.

Damaged Faith: We have Hope, but we put it in people, systems, organizations.

Active Faith: Hope is in the “contracts” we’ve cut with Jesus.  He’s done great things for us, and we anchor our future hope, no matter what, to his great promises.

It’s helpful to be hopeless

Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Fallen Condition Focus

The world is hopeless.  As sinners we are on a complete collision course with the end.  We are without rest, contentment and peace because of our complete inability to remain hopeful.  Like gas in the tank of our automobile we spend our hope eventually running on empty and then out.

o    It’s Completely Normal to be hopeless.
o    It’s actually helpful to be hopeless!

Hopelessness leads us to a place of desperation.  We see the end of what is causing hopelessness and the beginning of a new chapter of LIFE!

Psalms 143:1-12
Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my plea!  Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.  2 Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you.  3 My enemy has chased me.  He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.  4 I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear.  5 I remember the days of old.  I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done.  6 I lift my hands to you in prayer.  I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.  7 Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens.  Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.  8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you.  Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.  9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me.  10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.  May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.  11 For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life.  Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.  12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

Gospel Response

Even though we encounter difficulties and struggles that seem HOPELESS, because our faith in Jesus Christ to save us from hopelessness is so powerful,  we are in fact not HELPLESS!