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Spoa-ts Spect ..aan

SSFo..uft'l. Chatting With Whoan? What athlete, past or present, would you most like to have a conversation with-and why?

I would most li ke to speak to Mike Gartner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. SS ran an interview with him a few months back (which led me to subscribe), and his testimony was inspiring. I attend San Jose State Unive rsity, and I' m studying public relations. I hope to work for the NHL one day. Mike's comment about the league lacking a chapel program has given me the desire to try to remedy this situation, but I' m not sure where to start. Speaking to Mike Ga rtner wou ld give me the encouragement to work toward a chapel program: The ice/roller hockey organizations need Jesus Christ as much as the other sports fields, and with hockey becoming so popular with kids, this sport could be a great testimony tool for Christ. - TRAC/ VLACH San Jose, CA

I like Cris Carter of the Minnesota Vikings because he has put his faith in Christ, and he is an outstanding athlete. I put him at the 2

top of my list. If he had the time, I'm sure he would give me some tips about how God has helped him in life and football. Thanks, SS. Your magazine has helped me grow as a person in Christ.

left without ever making a big fuss abo ut it. Quietl y walking away and only saying that he wished he could have had one more chance to show the man he really is.

- ANTHONY DUERR Fulda, MN

-KENDRA AUBERGE!?

Look for Cris Carter on the : I would most enjoy having a concover of our October edition of : versation with Michael Jordan. In Sports Spectrum. -Ed. : addition to being one of the best : players in the NBA, he seems to It would have to be Joe Montana. : be a very nice person. I would Of all the athletes I' ve seen, he : like to ask him how he handles is the one I could watch over his popularity. I would also like and over and never get tired of to witness to him about Christ. watching. As for athletes Sports - JOSH LOCKLAIR Spectrum has featured, I think it Milwaukee, WI would have to be ... this is really hard because I really li ke A.C. The athlete I'd like to meet and Green, Kev in John son, David talk to is Pablo Morales, Olympic Robinson, Brent Jones, Michael gold medalist in swimming. I Chang ... see what I mean? They would love to sit down with Pablo, • share swimming stories, and hear are all great. -ROBBIN MOTE : about how he trained for the San Luis Obispo, CA : Olympics. He is so humble about : his accomplishments and himself. - JUDY GARRELS The one athlete I want to talk • to is Scott Norwood. I' m sure Midland, Ml people know he played for the Buffalo Bills for quite a few sea- New- Question sons, and he was the place kicker who mi ssed the fi eld goal in Why do you feel more emphasis Super Bowl XXV. is placed on men' s sportsHe never once blamed anyone especially professional sports or anything for the fact that he - versus women's? What, if anymissed that field goal. He took the : thing, should be done about it? blame on himself-even when his teammates told him it wasn't all : SS Lettezos his fault. After missing that kick, : To send a leiter to the editor he willingly came out of the lock- : about Sports Spectrum or erroom and talked to the press. : to voice an opinion about Every time there is another : the SS Forum question, Super Bowl or the Bills play the : write to: Giants, they continue to show that same kick. I' ve even read mean Sports Spectrum Leiters articles people have written about Box 3566 him, and I think that's unfair. Grand Rapids, Ml 49501-3566 The thing I would most like to tell him is that I wish he was still Fax: 616-957-5741 Buffalo's place kicker, that cut- Allen/ion: SS Leiters ting him was unfair- they didn't even give him another chance. : E-mail: But most of all, I'd like to tell : UMS@aol.com. him how thankful I am that he

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SPORTS S P ECTRUM • AUGU ST 1995


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DEPARTMENTS

Life In The Fast Lane?

FEATURES

6

Stocking Indy Some thought it would never happen once, but the good ol' boys with the loud cars are back

8

The Waiting Game Dale Jarrett practices patience as he drives th e Havoline car through a tough 1995 season by Tom Felten .

Is NASCAR's new golden boy Jeff Gordon getting his head turned by all this success? by Rob Bentz

22

2 Open Court Ace returns from Sports Spectrum readers, SS Fan Poll

5

Waddy's World

Miracle Man Almost a year after a nearly fatal run-in with the wall at Michigan, Ernie lrvan wants to get back behind th e wheel by Dave Branon

28 Jump Start The Interstate Batteries folks, led by Norm Miller and Joe Gibbs, are off to a quick start in racing with Rob Bentz

A closer look at Max Helton and Motor Racing Outreach by Watson (Waddy) Spoelstra

12

Boyz Under The Hood A close-up look at the Interstate Batteries Monte Carlo by J.D. Gibbs and Jimmy Makar

2{) Leaderboard Bill Elliott by Dave Branon Hut Stricklin by Bev Flynn

26 Straight Talk Long-time NASCAR fixture Darrell Waltrip talks about what changed his life for the better by Darrell Waltrip

30 Airing It Out In life's greatest race, everyone can win, and we're not talking about Indianapolis

Vol.ome 9. Nurrbet 8 SPORTS SPECTRUM MAGAZINE A DISCOVERY HOUSE PUilUCATION PUBUSHER Ooscovely House; MANAGING EDITOR Oave &anon. DIRECTOR Tom Fellen. PRODUCTION ASSISTANT RobllefU; ART DIRECTOR Slew Goer; GRAPHIC DESIGNER Laurie Nejson; ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Usao.isl; STAFF WRITERS OOvld Egnet, Bevel1y FlyM; ADVISORY COMMITTEE OIUCk sw.rsky. spans<i<eclot. WJR Racio, Oetro;t, Od Mason. ChaO'man ollhe Board. Ooscovely House Nllishefs; Kyle Role ..... Presldenl, Altieles Resource Management oave lllfrmn. Teaolle<.0q ol Ooscovely. SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ pn>ducod 12 1ines a year by Ooscove<y House l'l.Wshe<s. v.t;ol1 is alfioated '"lh ROC t.~;,;su;es, a nondenonWla1ion ClvlslianotgarizaJ<>nwhose II<Jrpose is 1olead people ol d nations 1opencnalla.1h ;n Jesus Clvisl and Jo growlh in His lkeness by teaching principles lrom the B.ble. Printed in USA. CcpyrightO 1995 by Oiscove<y House P\Jblishers. Grand Rapds. M<lligan. Bible qoolatms. unless olhef'Mse noled, are taken lrcm the HOlY BIBlE. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION CcpynghtO 1973. 1978. 1984. lnlernalional Bible Sodety. Used by penriss<>n ol Z- a n Bible Publshers. Freelanoe writers should query the managing edilor by mal lor writers' guidelines. SPORTS SPECTRUM 5\.tlset'!pllons are available !Of $1 8.97/tweNe issues Of $23.97 outside lhe USA [rl US fundS) by wnting lo SPORTS SPECTRUM Subscr;pOOns, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501.J566, by catting loll free 1·800·283·8333. or by sendilg a FAX to 1·616·957·5741 .

S POR T S S PECTR U M

• 1\U GU S T 1 9 9 5

For Subscription Services,*

CALL TOLL FREE:

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IKETHE INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, it took me a long time to fall in love with stock car racing. While the Brickyard was hampered in its appreciation of NASCAR by tradition, I was slow in coming along because of my own prejudices. As a basketball-playing, baseball-watching, two-sport man, I had a tough time recognizing this sitting-behind-the-wheel event as a sport. I preferred running, throwing, sweating, and jumping to shifting, steering, sweating, and drafting. But then a friend invited me to the Michigan International Speedway. We visited the corporate tents and met ESPN's favo rite driver, Dick Trickle. We toured the garage area and saw how open and accommodating the drivers and their crews were. Then we crossed the highbanked track and settled into our seats. That 's when the real fun began. Watching 41 cars scream past at 125 miles per hour tends to get the adrenaline pumping. And on it went for the next 3 hours as we cheered and yelled in futility, trying to make ourselves heard over the roaring horses of those high-powered engines. There was no halftime. No seventh-inning stretch. No TV timeouts. After 3 hours of head-pounding excitement, I was whipped. I can' t imagine how tired the drivers were. I knew then that I had been

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watching some good athletes. As the Brickyard moves into the second year of its new relationship with NASCAR, Sports Spectrum initiates its first edition dedicated exclusively to the good ol' boys. But that's not the only way we are getting grease under our fingernails. In addition to putting our name on this special racing edition of~ our monthly magazine,

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Sports Spectrum car on the ARCA (Automotive Racing Club of America) circuit. Car owner Keith Wimberly likes the magazine and shares our interest in letting people know that life is more than a game. So, he made special arrangements to display our logo on his car and distribute Sports Spectrum at the tracks. So the next time yo u catch an ARCA race in

COURTESY: INDIANA Sf'ORTS OUTREACH

.6. Coming at you? Driving on the short-track portion of the ARCA

circuit, Indiana native and Indiana State University graduate Chet Blanton will be cruising raceways in his home state as well as in Illinois and Kentucky throughout the rest of the 1995 racing season.

we have also recentl y put our name on a stock car. Yes, the Sports Spectrum team now means more than just those of us who put this magazine and our radio program together. For the past couple of months, Chet Blanton has been racing the

the Prime Network, look for the red and white Sports Spectrum car. It'll probably be near the front of the pack. Just as we had to have a lot of help to have an SS car on the circuit, we also had to get some assistance to put together this

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S P O RTS S PECTRUM â&#x20AC;˘ AUG U ST 1995

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Brickyard Special Edition. That's why we are grateful for the help of Max Helton and Bob Dyar of Motor Racing Outreach. When we ventured to Darlington Raceway to talk to the NASCAR people we are featuring this month, Max and Bob helped us greatly in making contact with the right people. And we want to say thanks to Eric Garcia of Indiana Sports Outreach for the many hours he worked to insure that the fans at the Bri ckya rd wou ld have access to this publication. More and more people, it seems, are getting the racing bug. If you have it, you understand the thrill of watching men (and sometimes women) and machine working together to accomplish a goal. At tracks across America, the racing phenomenon is growing faster than Dale Earnhardt chasing a checkered flag. Whether you are reading this amid the excitement at the track in Indy or in the calm comfort of your home, I hope you'II find help in this unique look at a unique race. It is intended to give you a closeup look at some of NASCAR's best drivers and teams while letting you in on a message we all need to hear: God loves you and has provided a way for you to have eternal life.

Dave Branon, managing editor Sports Spectrum

! P H OTOGR A P H Y cRe ooT s l Cover Photos: (Gordon) Greg Crisp, (Jarrell) Tom DiPace, (DuPont 24) Greg Crisp, (trophy) Brian Spurlock; p. 3 (#24) Steve Swope/AIIsport, (#28) Tom DiPace, (lrvan) Tim O'Dell; p. 4 Courtesy: Indiana Sports Outreach; p. 6 (top) Brian Spurlock, (boltom) Steve Swope/AIIsport; p. 7 Brian Spurlock (2); p. 8 O'Dell Stock p. 9 O'Dell Stock; p. 10 (Helton) Tim O' Dell, (Jarrett family) Linda Longino; p. 11 Tom DiPace; p. 12 (interior) O'Dell Stock, (Labonte) Tim O' Dell; p. 13 (Makar) Greg Crisp, (crew) O'Dell Stock, (car) O'Dell Stock; p. 14¡15 (car) Tom DiPace; p. 15 (Brooke & Jeff) Linda Longino; pp. 16-17 (cars) O'Dell Stock, (Gordon) Tom DiPace; p. 18 (lumina) Greg Crisp, (Monte Carlo) O'Dell Stock; (Gordon) Tom DiPace; p. 19 Greg Crisp; p. 20 Allen Kee/Bob Rosato Sport Photography; p. 21 O'Dell Stock; p. 22 Tom DiPace; p. 23 O' Dell Stock; p. 24 Brian Spurlock; p. 25 Tim O'Dell; p. 26 Linda Longino; p . 27 (left) Tim O'Dell, (right) Greg Crisp : p. 28 O'Dell Stock; p. 29 Greg Crisp; p. 30 Steve Swope/AIIsport; p. 31 Butch Dill.

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WADDY • a

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Max HeUon Answers A Call For Help Fro"" NASCAR Drivers •

By W atson Spoel s t ra

....

Coincidence is a word that just won't fit in the narrative of Max Helton. See if you don't agree. In 1987 Helton was the busy pastor of a thriving, 1,000-member church in the Los Angeles area community of Glendora. One day stock car racing champion Darrell Waltrip

walked unexpected· ly into Helton's life. Christian," recalls, "and he called me with loads of questions. 11 In the next few weeks the pastor's phone rang like crazy. It was Franklin, Tennessee, Waltrip's home town, calling. "Max, you need to help us, " the driver insisted. "Two drivers are sitting with me right now. We need to get something going for God in Winston Cup racing." Helton flew across the country for the first of two sessions, a "time of talking and praying" near the Daytona track in Florida. A month later there was more talking and praying in Atlanta. It's important to note that the three drivers had their wives with them. Darrell and Stevie Waltrip were flanked at the meeting by Lake and Rice (Ree-sah) Speed and Bobby and Kim Hillin. Also there were Norm and Bobbe Evans. Norm was a former Miami Dolphin and the head of an organization called Pro Athletes Outreach (PAO). A Slow Start, But Picking Up Speed

From this beginning, Motor Racing Outreach was launched in 1988, and Helton consented

their churches on race days," Max explains. One central theme is introducing people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. A driver who had just come from Helton's office flashed a races. "It is much like a smile to the secretary on his church program for 5,000 way out and said, "They want racing people," says me to tell you what I just did. I Helton, who is assisted turned my heart over to the by sever a l MRO staff Lord. I've sure got a lot of members. Helton reflects, stuff to learn. 11 MRO is there "The Lord is amazing. He to help him learn it. lets all of us on the staff sit Sanctuary organ r efrains back and watch Him at aren't a part of MRO. Often the background noise at chapel is the revving of a 700From Tackles horsepower engine, but the to Tracks drivers and crew members Joe Gibbs, wh o led the don't seem to mind. They are Washington Redskins to four focusing on something with a Super Bowl titles, is now a more eternal value. MRO also provides fun times competitive NASCAR owner. He says, "It's no big surprise at the track. Crew members that MRO reaches so many. participate in a summer-long This is a sport where you can • series of go-cart races. No get hurt. God is very close to drivers allowed. Point standings determine the champion. racing people." Norm Evans has a kindred The feature event each time is view. He played tackle for the a 100-lap race with vehicles 1972 Miami Dolphins, who traveling 15 mph. It's always won the Super Bowl with a a wild finish. flourish. They went 17-0 for Prayer in the Pits the season, remember? Evans Pit row prayer is everywhere was a key figure when NFL players formed PAO- pros on the circuit. Helton says, helping pros. He says, "MRO is "Our staff has personal kind of like PAO's startup . prayer with drivers at their They had a core group that request. Ten minutes before understood the spiritual needs the race starts, it's an incredof racing people. The wives ible sight. People up and were very involved. That's a down pit row are sharing big plus. Then God called Max their thoughts with the Helton to step in." Lord." The drivers themselves proNot An Accident vide MRO with stability. Let's go back to the word coin- Helton says, "Winston Cup raccidence, which means "acciing has 40 regular drivers. dental occurrence." What God Every single one is involved in is doing in NASCAR is hardly the ministry. Not all are believers, but they're all partaccidental. MRO reaches out to "the unchurched and to the ners. I've never heard of that faithful who are away from before." Watson "Waddy" Spoelstra, a writer for The Detroit News for 30 years and founder of Baseball Chapel, lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.

HELTON HEARS FROM WHO?

to serve as president. The transition wasn't easy. Max and his wife Jean sold their California home and transported their four daughters in the 2,500-mile move to Charlotte. In a speed world like NASCAR, you could expect a blazing start for MRO. It didn't happen. The first event was a Bible study before a Labor Day race at Darlington, SC. Only six people showed up, and they were the three couples from the original meeting. Yet it didn't take long for word to spread that spiritual help was available. The first pre-race chapel service drew 35 drivers and crew members. Today, the former California pastor has a "church" that is much bigger than the one he left in Glendora. Included in MRO activities are lunch-hour Bible studies, chapels and worship services, visiting with corporate folks in hospitality villages, individual counseling, pre-race prayers, and a chil· dren's expanded Sunday school that meets during the

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S PORTS S P EC TRUM • AUG U S T 1 995

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DNTRODVCCTDCN

pitched whine of

you notice that you

the superbly craft-

have a lot more

ed Ind y cars, you

time to follow its

hear the throaty

progress than you

roar of stock cars.

are accustomed to.

They so und like

By now, Scott

real cars. Cars you

Brayton 's littl e

used to work on in

What a difference it makes when the stock cars return to the famed Brickyard!

your garage. Cars yo u could hear from miles away at

Menard car would If speed Is all you want, then Scott Brayton's Lola-Menard is your car. His pole speed for the 1995 Indy 500 was 231 .604, almost 60 mph faster than Rick Mast's 1994 Brickyard speed of 172.414. A. Poles apart.

hav e been past you like a pleasant memory, whisking

the local dirt track. Four-barrel, gas-guz-

down the track at 220 miles per hour.

zling, tire-pealing, angry-sounding cars.

Earnh ardt, despite his skill and bravado,

Then you notice the look. As you get out

would be 50 mil es per hour or so off

IT's THE NOISE you notice first. Even before

of your camper and head for the bleachers,

Brayton 's pace. For all the heart-pounding

you enter the tunnel that spills out onto

you realize that a lifetime of images from

noise the good ol' boys make in their

the infield at th e Indi anapo lis Motor

Indy have been replaced with an unusual,

stock cars, they cannot come

Speedway, you hear a sound that seems

unsettling sight. There are no tiny, sleek,

foreign to that location. Instead of the high-

bullet-like racing machines cruising the raceway that made them famous-only what look

close to matching the speed of the

teasingly like honest-to-

Indy cars.

goodness

automo bil es

chasing each other around

In effect, the differences don't matter as

the track as if it's Friday

much anymore. Oh, they may have seemed

evening rush hour. Family

to be a big deal last year before the tradition

cars. A Monte Carlo here.

was actuall y broken at Indy. Before the

A Thunderbird there.

four-wheeled billboards first took to the

NASCAR-shaped cars,

Brickyard for a trial run. Before the deci-

not NASA-shaped rockets.

sion was made to have the race. Before

As you settle into your

Mike Wallace first took to the track for

seat that faces the back

practice last August. Before Ken Schrader

straightaway, you look up

completed the first official lap. Before Greg

to the sound of an oncom-

Sacks blew the first NASCAR engine at

ing car, roarin g angril y

Indy, and before Tim Steele became the

around the second turn .

first stock driver to crack up his car at the

That's when you see anoth-

Speedway. Before NASCAR's biggest-ever

er difference. As you spot

crowd had filled the stands.

Dale Earnhardt's familiar With a solid crew behind him, Jeff Gordon started third in 1994, but by lap three was ahead. He led the race seven times, most importantly at the end. A Right down his alley.

But it doesn't matter.

black Goodwrench Chevy coming high off the turn,

Before Jeff Gordon took the checkered flag and the homes tate glory. The initial foray into the 84-year tradi-


.A. Downtime at Darlington. Dale Jarrett's late March weekend at the track that's Too Tough To Tame was typical of his frustrating first half. After failing to qualify until the second day of lime trials, Jarrett finished 38th in the TranSouth 400. Despite his difficulties, though, the Conover, North Carolina, driver is having what most other drivers would consider a successful season.

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SPORTS SPEC TRUM路 AU G U S T 1 995


Dale Jarrett has been squeezed by a challenging '95 season--driving for a new team; but a 1992 decision keeps him going

By Tom Felten NASCAR drivers enjoy. They drive fast. They pit fast. They drive fast again. Hey, some even talk and eat fast. Waiting is not the name of the ga me. Racing is about winning and being successful now. This year Dale Jarrett has learned new appreciation for the P-word. He's finding out what being patient is all about. The man who started the 1995 season with 228 NASCAR races and $3 ,704,244 in racing earnings has not had a banner year. "I've read a lot about that lately. It's something I'm having a tou gh tim e dealing with-understanding that it ' ll happen when it needs to happen ... " When what happens? Taking the chec kered fl ag-as he has three times in his career. Hi s first win came in 199 1 at Michigan in the Champion Spark Plug 400, followed by the biggest victory of his career at the Daytona 500 in 1993. Last year he cruised into victory lane at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, taking the top spot in the Mello Yello 500. Let's face it, no one really likes to wail. When you lose your job and can't find a new one, it's tough. When the test results are slow coming back from the doctor, it's hard. When you pray and TH AT'S NOT A WORD

PATIENCE â&#x20AC;˘

SPOR TSSPECTRUM -AU G U ST 1 995

O'DEll STOCt<

.A. Looking for Number 4. Between Dale Jarrett's Daytona 500 victory in 1993 and his Mello Yelle win In late 1994 (third career win), he endured a 55-race winless streak. He's gunning to shorten the span next time.

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,.. Helping to the Max. As with many of the drivers on the NASCAR circuit, Dale Jarrett cred its Max Helton w ith being a v ital Influence on his spiritual life.

WA I T I NG

the answer doesn't seem to come, it's lonely. Dale Jarrett knows how it feels to feel alone. In 1993, while racing for the Joe Gibbs Interstate Batteries team, he did something his father (legendary race-car-dri ver-turned-broadcaster Ned Jarrett) had failed to do-win the Daytona 500. He crossed the line that divides those eager for victory from those who have conquered. He stood alone in his accomplishment, but then he was T-boned by opportunities. "There started to be a lot more demands on my time, opportunities to do a lot of things," says Jarrett. "You can lose out on your family if you're not careful. You have to keep tabs on yourself, and I found that difficult to do at times." Winning the ultimate NASCAR event and capturing two other victories were great accomplishments. And the experiences felt great ... for a while. Now Dale longs to drink from the victor's cup once again. But he has made a few changes to make his thirst for victory even more challenging.

..,. Like father, like s on. Ned Jarrett, supported by his w ife Martha (holding grandson Zachary), won 50 NASCAR races of the 352 he raced between 1953 and 1966. Now Dale and his wife Kelley are side-by-side as Dale nears the 250-race mark in his career that began in 1984.

For starters, he left the Gibbs team. Yep, you read that correctly. He left the team that is the new bright-shining star of racing. The team with which Bobby Labonte-Dale's replacement-has been tearing up the track. But Jarrett decided to make his change even more exc iting by joining Robert Yates and his TexacoHavoline Ford Thunderbird team. The same team whose driver, Ernie lrvan, was vy ing for the Winston Cup title- before he nearl y died in a practice session last August. (See "Miracle Man" on page 22.) So Mr. Jarrett jumped from an up-and-coming racing team to one of the premier teams on the circuit. It was a no-brainer, according to him. " It was more for the future than for the present-what I could learn from the Yates team in starting my own team down the road, which is what this is all about. "I didn't see any risk in it, really, although it was one of the toughest decisions I've ever made. I had to do a lot of praying about it. Joe Gibbs and everyone there were awful good to me. They changed my life in many ways." Jarrett had been greatly affected by Joe Gibbs and his personal devotion to Jesus Christ. Early in their marriage, Dale and his wife Kelley had asked Christ to be their Lord and Savior. But the passing of days and the 10

GAME

grind of the racing world had silently stifled the Jarrells' relationship with Him. Dale and Kelley rededicated their lives at a special event prior to the 1992 Super Bowl. Joe Gibbs had been the man who had opened their eyes to the spiritual riches that they had allowed to grow dusty. Jarrett has not forgotten th is special time and the special man who encouraged them to draw closer to Christ. "Joe and I are still friends. I will always owe it to him for getting my life straightened out to what I knew was best." The best way, Dale found, was God's way. Without a solid belief in God's leading in his life, everything that has happened in 1995 would have threatened to overwhelm the 6'2", 215-pound driver. Remember, he's dri ving No. 28. The Ford that could have taken it all in '94. It 's been a different story for the storied race team in 1995. Oh, Jarrett started the season in fine form, winning the pole at the Daytona 500, NASCAR's inaugural race, making him the favorite to win his second Daytona 500 title. But Jarrett didn't lead a single lap while finishing fi fth. One writer said, "for Dale to not win a lap in his T-Bird is like having Michael Jordan on your basketball team and not winning any games." Fifth has been his highest finish in the 1995 season. Jarrett has failed to quali fy in some races this year. In June he left the Dover 500 earl y after being involved in a 19-car pile-up. It 's been, well, one of those years. Yes, the Chevys are tough this year, but Dale's heart has been made tender by the lack of success. "I think a lot of people put pressure on you and certainly there's pressure to perform. The pressure to win is great in this business. Everybody wants to win, but there's only one winner. I try not to let that pressure bother me, and it's something I' ve prayed a lot about too-that I can overcome that." It's not desirable to be the subject of an AP report that starts out with copy li ke this: Dale Jarrett has heard the whispers grow louder with each passing week. Soon, though, he will take his ecuplugs out and hear the fans roar-either for his first victory of the year or for his head. Or, to see your name bobbing around in swirling NASCAR rumors-as in this caption taken from the June 2, 1995, issue of Speedway Scene: Dale Jarrett, along with his father Ned, deny that they are buying the Quaker State No. 26 of Kenny Bemstein. T ilE PRESSURE MOUNTS

pRESS U R E â&#x20AC;˘

and pat ience wears thin- like the rubber on an over-inflated tire. But Jarrett has al ready shared what helps him face the small, desolate feeling of unrealized great expectations: Prayer. When he cli mbs into th e sleek, blac k TexacoHavoline Thunderbird, he has a very simple game plan.

S P O RTS S P ECTRUM â&#x20AC;˘ AU G U S T 1 995


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Chevy vs. Ford. Although Dale Earnhardt won the 1994 points title in a Chevy Lumina, the Ford Thunderbirds such as the Havoline 28 car won the 1994 Manufacturer's Championship, taking 20 races to Chevy's 11 . 1n 1995, however, the new Monte Carlo has already won that many races to Ford's single-digit victories.

"I just turn it over to God; it's in His hands. I'm there to do what He wants me to do." Those words echo Jarrett's plan for life too. Up until 1992, he had been chasing a carrot-a faulty image of what it means to be truly successful in life. But with his fresh start spiritually, he has found hope that transcends the fact that his new ride has not produced a bumper crop of wins. A great encouragement to Dale, Kelley, and the four Jarrett children-Jason, Natalee, Karsyn, and Zachary Spears-has been the work of Max Helton and Motor Racing Outreach. The MRO team has given the Jarrells a " home team " that 's th ere to support them every moment, every race. " Max Helton and his people come in with great overall ministries for us. We have activities that we can do during times when we could be going out and doing other things that aren't in our best interest. They 've been the saving grace for us around here." MRO has servi ces held right at the track. This i s something Dale appreciates. "It makes it much better that we can stay at the tracks. A lot of us have motor homes and Max will come around. It's much easier not having to leave here and think about going somewhere else. And as you carry your Bible around [to Bible studies and servi ces ], · th at i s a reminder of where your mind and heart needs to be."

p ERsp EcT IvE•

win the Brickyard 400 last year, Dale says it was like a Hollywood movie. "It's amazing, the more things you see take place, how God's will makes it happen. There couldn 't have been a better script written by anyone for what happened there." Jarrett genuinely enjoyed his trip to Indy last year and is looking forward to his next adventure there. " It's a historic race track. It was a lot of fun, and the media and the fans were all tremendous there. Just a great reception for NASCAR racing." Don' t get the wrong idea. Dale will not be pulling for Jeff Gordon, even if he is the home state favorite and a fellow believer in Jesus Christ. Dale is a competitor. That's why 1995 has been a tough year for the man who sits in car No. 28. He wants to perform at the level that he demands of himself. He wants to be a winner. But, then again, he already is. Dale Jarrett is developing patience and a perspective that allows him to withstand the pressures that would steal his joy. It's the same patience everyone can experienceand it's described in the Bible. Galatians 5:22 reads, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Some peopl e may be down on Dale th ese days because of their expectations for him and his team. That' s okay. They just need this perspective: A fresh start for Dale Jarrett is just one NASCAR win away. It's all part of the waiting game. D

Dale Jarrett has won NASCAR's biggest race and he certainly knows his way around a track, but here are his thoughts on what direction we all need to take if we want to be winners in life. "I've learned that there's only one direction and that's the Lord's. That's the way things are going to be done correctly and that's the way I want it. "Before, I wasn't as outspoken about my faith . Now I'm ready and willing to witness to oth· ers. I'm not one to get up and make the talks in front of people, but I've grown a lot in sitting and talking with people one· on-one. I've learned a lot more about the Bible, because even though I grew up around the church the Bible wasn't something that I read a lot. I'm doing that quite a bit more now. "I've also grown in my marriage and the com· mitment that it takes, which is very difficult in this sport because we're apart a lot and the family suffers. But my family is very important to me, and I've tried my best to be here for the important things in their lives. I think the best thing that Kelley and I can do for the kids, though, is bring them up in a Christian environment. And we're trying our best to do that, because if we can, then God's going to do His works with them, and that's all we can ask."

DALE HAS A

per spective on life that has been crafted by being around racing since he took his first breath and by a faith in Jesus Christ that gives him hope beyond death. He realizes that his racing career is a vapor that will soon pass away, but his work for God each day-sharing his testimony, being a godly witness- is for eternity. This perspective allows him to be happy for other racers when they succeed. Remarking on the memory of seeing Jeff Gordon, a Hoosier racing in his home state,

@

Take It Like A Man?

How is a man to act when things don't go his way? And even more important, is there a ~JJecific pallem of life and behavior that is o.pected of him? For answers to these and other questions about being a male in the '90s, ask for the free booklet What Does God Expect Of A Man? You can get it by marking the box labeled "MAN" on the card between pages 24 and 25 and sending it to Sports Spectrum.

S P O RTS S PEC TRUM • AUGUST 199 5

,,


COD

ID fte Ca•age W'dl The Jate1sta By J.D. Gibbs and Jimmy Makar

A The Interior CONTROLS FOR DRIVER • gas pedal • ignition switch • fire extinguisher • switches for fans for engine cooling and brake cooling • back-up system switch GAUGES FOR DRIVER • tachometer • oil temperature • oil pressure • water temperature • fuel pressure • gear temperature • No computerized instruments or digital gauges are a/Jawed COOLING/COMFORT DEVICES • Air ducts flowing air into Bobby's helmet and into the seat • Air ducts flowing air at the driver's feet and toward the driver • Custom fit seat • Drink bottle (an additional small drink bottle is given on each pit stop] • Some drivers use a small cooling unit to cool air coming into the driver's helmet • Engine, wind noise is blocked by ear plugs and radio transmission earphones • Car is designed to keep high winds from driver, so he feels little wind resistance. SAFETY DEVICES • The structure of the roll cage is the main reason drivers can walk away from hard crashes. All roll bars within reach of the driver's body parts are padded with impact resistant padding. • Bobby's seat is form-fitted to his body shape for safety and comfort. It

is custom-fit to distribute impact loads to all parts of the body. It is designed to support but 'give' in the event of a hard impact. • Leg rails and padding protect the driver in a violent crash. • Head restraint on his seat helps support the head during heavy Gforces in corners. This also helps reduce neck injuries in a crash. • The seatbelt system includes lap

belts, shoulder harnesses, and an anti-submarine belt (located between the legs to keep the driver from sliding down under belts during hard collisions]. • The steering wheel column collapses during a seve re front

impact, and leg rails keep the driver's legs in a 'tunnel,' preventing them from flying around during violent crashes, reducing the potential for broken legs. • A fire extinguisher can be activated by the driver by pulling a pin and pushing a button. • The window net on the left side of the car keeps the driver's head and arms inside the vehicle.

A The Crew & Pit CREW CHIEF • Relays lap limes and race leader's lap limes to driver. • Gets information from driver on engine oil and water temperatures, plus how car is handling. • They discuss pit strategy (how many tires, when to pit] as well as information on how other cars are running (different grooves to try, problems other cars have]. • Makes final decision on when to pit, with help from gas men. Bobby can also pit on his own if he feels something needs immediate attention. SPOTTER • An alert spotter with a good view of the track is essential. He works with the crew chief on the above items, and he te lls the driver if someone is trying to pass him.

12

S P O RTS S P EC T RUM • AUG U S T 1 995

• The spotter informs the driver how close the cars around him are. • He warns him of crashes and debris on the track. • He works with other drivers' spotters so the drivers can communicate with each other. • The spotter can also relay information to the crew chief, such as body damage, tires rubbing (smoking]. • The spotter is a second set of eyes for both the driver and the crew chief and can make the difference between a driver avoiding an accident or driving into it. The driver can see very little from inside the car, so he has to rely heavily on the spotter.

PIT AREA • For each race, a crew will use about 7 sets of tires, depending on how many caution periods the re are. Approximately 3 additional sels are used to practice before the race. • For a typical race, a car will go through approximately 88 gallons of gas (4.5 mpg], not including practice. • To prepare the crew, we have a pit-practice car. We use it at our shop to work on our pit stops. Also, several of the crew members work out regularly, and they watch what they eat.


Team

A closeup look at Bobby Labonte's Number 18

GETTING SET UP FOR INDY

r 4 :

A. The Car The chassis and suspension are strictly built to race, so they don't really resemble today's automobiles. The design of the suspension we use is based on a mid-1960s Chevelle. Originally these cars were true 'stock' cars that were modified to race, but we now have hand-built chassis with 'stock' car bodies that are regulated by NASCAR templates.

Set-up of a race car is generally expected to include every aspect of its preparation before a race or test. The most often discussed areas of a car's set-up include the selection of springs, shocks, sway bar, weight placement, front-end alignment (caster, camber, toe-in), wheelbase lead, spoiler angle, tire pressure, ride heights of the chassis, and gear selection. Indianapolis Speedway is a unique track. It contains characteristics of several types of racetracks rolled into one, and this makes it quite difficult to set up for. The long straights and fast speeds make it important to have an aerodynamically 'shck' car to reduce drag and increase speed. For that reason we want what we consider a speedway-type set-up. But at the end of each straightaway is a relatively flat 90-degree corner. This dictates a short track set-up, which includes high-aerodynamic, downforce-type bodies and the springs and shocks we use on short,

flat racetracks. This combination becomes a blend of both speedway and short track set-ups, using some of each and sacrificing some of each to attain the best lap speeds.

BIGGEST SAFETY CONCERN Our worst injury fear is the highenergy impact that happens when a car stops suddenly, and all the energy is absorbed by the driver's body. This usually leads to internal injuries to the head and chest area. The second worry would be fire. Our

S P O R TS S PECTRUM â&#x20AC;˘ AUGUST 1 995

biggest worries are not being able to extricate the driver or having the driver unconscious and unable to activate the on-board extinguisher.

BEST SAFETY IMPROVEMENT IN THE PAST 5 YEARS The roof flaps, which open if a car turns sideways or backward at high speerls. The flaps create downforce to keep the car from becoming airborne if it goes out of control.

13


r

Youthful JeffGordon is the talk of NASCAR. The soft-spoken, hardcharging driver of N umber 24 has a bright future ahead of him. On the track and off. . . By Rob B e ntz 14

S PORT S SP ECTR UM â&#x20AC;˘ A U G U S T 1 995

SHIRT WAS BOLD. Bright neon colors, huge block letters, and a car that leaped off the front and right into your face. "Jeff Gordon- Life in th e Fast Lane," screamed the shirt. The message seemed right on, and in one sense it is. But it 's also a huge contradiction. As a racing analogy, the sportswear couldn't have been more accurate. The driver NASCAR folks call "The Kid" is unquestionably in the fast lane- with 5 Winston Cup victories in just his third year on the circuit.


And he hasn't just won at the ho-hum tracks on the ever-growing Winston Cup tour. He's taken home the checkered flag (and a lot of greenbacks) from some pretty prestigious race places like Daytona International Speedway (1994 Busc h Clas h, a non-points race), Charlotte Motor Speedway ( 1994 Coca-Cola 600), and of course, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (the inaugural Brickyard 400.) All that in just his first 50 races. If you think that sounds like life in the fast lane, Gordon's 1995 season sounds like a

LINDA LONGINO

mi ssile launch. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports/DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo raced to victory in three of the fi rst six Winston Cup races of the season: the Goodwrench 500 in Rock ingham, North Carolina; the Purolator 500 in Hampton, Georgia; and the Food City 500 in Bristol, Tennessee. After 9 races, Gordon was awarded a cool $100,000 bonus for leading the Win ston Cup points competition and for hav ing the most wins. And it wasn't until the I Oth race of the year at Sonoma, Cali fornia, that the young driver

SPORTS SPECTRUM â&#x20AC;˘ AUG U S T 1 995

15


LIFE

IN

THE

FAST

LANE?

fai led to lead at least one lap in a race! really appreciate life and really appreciate what's going Simply put, Gordon dominated the first third of the to happen after life." Winston Cup season. And he wasn't even 24 years old! Is this a contradiction to the "Life in the Fast Lane" That milestone falls on the eve of the second-ever T-shirt moniker? You make the call. Brickyard 400. The event that marks what Gordon conWithout question Jeff Gordon and his rainbow warsiders his greatest racing accomplishment. rior No. 24 are taki ng the fast track to a special place in "That race meant a lot to me," he says. "It meant a NASCAR history, but Gordon's life off the track is lot because I lived in Indiana for 5 years. I've been to about as far from the fast lane as Jeff is from the back the Indianapolis 500. I've been around the race track. of the pack on a Sunday afternoon. "When they scheduled the Winston Cup race there, I Shannon Austin, accou nt representati ve for was very excited, very much looking forward to being Performance PR Plus, the firm that handles Gordon 's able to run there. I knew how much every guy out there publicity says, "It's not always race, race, race. He and wanted to win that race. For us to be a part of it was Brooke spend almost all of their free time together at really neat, but to be able to actually go out there and their lake house." wi n the race- it was just too good to be true." As you would imagine, the you ng couple doesn't Maybe so. Maybe it was too good to be true. Local have an abundance of time to sit around and watch the boy spends his teen years just miles from the sun set over the lake. Gordon's schedule is filled with Speedway ... races in the first-ever NASCA R race at sponsor appearances, testing, radio interviews, maga.A. New lines. When Chevy th e world's most prestigious track in front of the zine interviews, and newspaper interviews. And that's switched from the Lumina largest crowd ever to see a Winston Cup race, just 2 not counting the heavy load of requests to do speaking (above) to the Monte Carlo, days after his 23rd birthday . .. and wins! Not just the engagements and collectors' shop appearances that the wins followed. race, but the largest purse in NASCA R history. It may Gordon is inundated with every day. sound too good to be true, but it is true! Free time is precious to Brooke and Jeff Gordon. What does a guy do to And the Gordons use a top that? portion of their ti me doing He marri es hi s best something vital to them. friend. In Jeff's case, that's "We try to spend as much time as we can every day, Brooke Sealy. A form er SEVEN WINSTON CUP RACES Miss Winston and a true just praying to the Lord-seven Winston Cup southern belle. just talking to Him like He's victories. That's how the The couple got married our best friend. It adds new Chevrolet Monte Carlo just after all the tires were put peace to our lives. We try to started off the 1995 do it as often as possible," away for the 1994 Winston Winston Cup season. says Brooke. "We've really Cup season. They've been Why is this car so good? inseparable ever since. grown in Christ together." What is the difference Wherever you see the dark Jeff admits that his growbetween the new Monte and handsome male half of ing faith in Jesus Christ has Carlo body and last year's this duo, the dark and attracalready made a difference in Chevy Lumina? ti ve fema le half isn't far his demeanor. "Having "When you look at the car, behind. Both are polite, Jesus in my life has helped it's obviously a lot different friendly, and quick to smile. me considerably. I'm a lot shape," says Jeff Gordon, Jeff explains why, "It 's who has benefited from the happier person. I don't new car perhaps more than just amazing the attitude that worry and dwell on things." any other driver. "You look you get when Christ is in "He's pretty laid backat the old Lumina and compretty cool," adds Austin. your life. You just have a pare it to the Monte Carlo whol e new attitude about Just minutes before the and it looks like we were li fe, because you know that start of the TranSouth Finandriving a box around. there is a far better place cial 400 in Darlington, South "The Monte Carla is than where we're at." Carolina, Gordon is the epitmore aerodynamic. It cuts There's someplace better .A. Non-stop signing. After Gordon won theTOMOif'ACE ome of cool. He calmly talks through the air a little betthan victory lane at Indy? Brickyard last summer and became the hottest with Brooke and spends a ter, yet it has total down Somethin g better th an new racing commodity since Dale Earnhardt, he few moments in prayer with force. We need the car to her and with Motor Racing enjoying the spoi ls of the has been "signing things non-stop." And he be balanced. We need continues to remain unaffected by the adulation. Outreach President Max $613,000 he took home for down force in the rear, but winn ing the inaugural Helton beside his brightl y if you just get it in the rear, Brickyard 400? colored Monte Carlo that sits on the pole. Gordon is then you're going to lose Better than the fame and recognition that come with loose. He's relaxed and composed. Almost as if he's just the front end, so you've being a dominate Winston Cup driver at age 23? out for another Sunday drive. Well, actually ... he is just got to have down force in Better than being compared to legends in your sport out for another Sunday drive. The difference of course is the front and the rear. like Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt in just your third that this "drive" includes 400 miles, speeds nearing 200 Right now, the down force season? mph, multiple tire changes, bumper-to-bumper traffic, no seems very well balanced Yep! passengers, and nothing but left turns. on both ends. Chevrolet's got a great new car!" "My faith has helped me on a day-to-day basis to Just another Sunday drive, indeed. 18

SPORTS SPEC TRUM â&#x20AC;˘ AUGUST 1995


I

L I FE

IN

T H E

FA ST

LANE ?

I ~ Runnin' hard. The King says The Kid " runs no harder than he has to." To Richard Petty, "that makes a smart driver out of him," which may explain why Jeff Gordon's driving, combined with the work of his Ray Evernham-led c rew, has already led to five NASCAR victories, including this 1994 Brickyard win.

The ego that often comes with such huge success at an early age seems to be about the only thing that has passed him by. He has confidence-don't mistake that. But it is just that---<:onfidence, not cockiness. The quite confidence that Jeff Gordon carries so well stems from his success at all levels of racing. Although he's onl y 23, Gordon is a veteran driver. The Kid has been racing some type of 4-wheeled motor vehicle since he was, well, a kid. Jeff jumped behind the wheel at age 5. That's not a typo. He was racing at age 5. Quarter midgets and go-karts were the vehicles of choice, and he didn 't just drive them around the local playland with his elementary school buddies. Jeff was the National Quarter Midget Champion in 1979 and 198 1. A champion driver at 8 and I0 years of age. While the rest of his contemporaries were in the backyard pushing around Hot Wheels and Tonka Trucks, Jeff Gordon was inside a car, driving his way to a national championship. But he didn't sit back in his beanbag chair and call it a career at age I0. He raced quarter midgets until he was 13 and then moved up to full midgets and sprint cars. And, as you may have guessed, he continued to win. Gordon was the 1990 USAC Midget Champion and the 1991 USAC Silver Crown Champion. So, if you think this winning thing is new to Jeff Gordon, think again. The 5-foot-7-inch veteran has more than 600 victories to his credit. Yet when he first strapped himself behind the wheel of a Winston Cup ride, he was awestruck. "I never dreamed in a million years that I would ever make it to this level. It's just incredible," ex plains Gordon. "At first, I was in awe. I was thinking, 'Wow, I'm driving next to Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip and Bill Elliott! ' I really respect those guys. Now I'm racing with them every weekend, and it's just part of the job. "I was racing and happy with what I was doing in quarter midgets. Then I stepped up to sprint cars, and I was happy doing that. I never thought that I'd be rae-

ing sprint cars. Thin gs have gone so fas t- it just amazes me," Jeff says. Richard Petty, NASCAR's top winner (200 victories) says, "Gordon's further along in his experience at an earlier age than what me and Earnhardt were." Gordon quickly admits that although he's had a great deal of success, he realizes that he needs to establish a consistent pattern to even think about being compared with legends like Petty and Earnhardt. "We' re reall y starting to build on consistency. We've already fallen out of a few races, ami that's hurt us tremendously in the points. But we've won a few races too, so if thi ngs continue to go the way they are right now we' ll be real happy. We've run fast, and we've run good, but we also have to be able to finish the races," explains Gordon, who finished 1994 eighth in Winston Cup points. "Our team is just a whole lot better in a lot of areas. I think I'm driving better than I ever have before. But there's no way anybody but Earnhardt is going to win the championshi p until we start competing on hi s level of consistency. Consistency is everything." Gordon also seeks consistency in his personal life, more specifically, in his relationship with God. ''I'm constantly growing and having Him in my life more and more. I think about Him more. I do more things with the Bible and have more Bible study ti me. I'm just learn ing more about Him. I'm still not there, but I'm definitely taking the right steps toward Him." Jeff Gordon is indeed taking the right steps-in his racing career and in his personal life. Whether or not he's living life in the fast lane, as that fan 's shirt implies, depends on your perspective. On the track, there are few, if any, who are faster than No. 24. Away from the roar of the high-powered engines, Jeff Gordon is easy-going, almost shy. One thing is certain- he's in the lane that will eventuall y lead him to a better place. A place even greater than the winner's circle at the Brickyard 400. D

S P O RTS S P ECT RUM - A U G U S T 1 9 9 5

r,;;t Championship

_. Team

Jeff and Brooke Gordon appear to make a championsluiJ tean1. But like every other couple, they have to work at keeping their relationship strong and focused on the right things. If you would like to find out how to strengthen your marriage, ask for the free booklet What Is The Promise Of Marriage? To get the booklet, mark the word "MARRIAGE" on the card betiVeen pages 24 and 25 and mail it to us. 19


~~~--~ --~~--------------------------------------------------------~ ~

[6[Sl!:.}.[0

" 1Y.l

·

@>El"l!!>

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

• Athletes Who Lead By Example Bill Elliott • R e luctantly Popular NASCAR's 9-TIME WINNER of the Most Popular Driver Award didn ' t get that way because he sought the attention. In fact, you get the idea that if Bill Elliott could just drive his McDonald's Ford around the track, park it, and go straight home to wife Ci ndy and daughter Starr, he'd be as pleased as a kid wi th a Happy Meal. "I have things in this business that I don't care to do," Elliott says as he munches an Egg McMuffin while sitting in the lounge of his team truck. "I like to drive a race car, and that's what pushed me to be where I'm at today. The rest of the stuff, while it is necessary and has become a part of the race, I don 't care to do. My mind wants to be out in a race car."

20

.: : : : : :

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

! !

Don' t mistake this for aloofness. It 's just that Elliott 's intrinsic shyness makes him more comfortable behind the steering wheel than behind a microphone. Indeed, his racing speaks for itself. With 40 first-place fin ishes on the NASCAR circuit under his belt, Elli ott is regarded as one of raci ng's institution s. During one stretch, from 1983 to 1992, Elliott wo n at leas t one race each yea r, amass ing an average of nearly 4 wi ns a year. In his best year, 1985, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native fini shed 18 times in the top 5, winning II of those races. With stats like th at, what

Winning races in sil ence is import ant truth about life. No one thing, but winning populamatter what job a person holds or how successful he or she may rity contests without the youthful charm of a Jeff Gordon or be , faith is absolut ely vital. the family name of a Kyle Petty "Everyone thinks my grass is or the infectious good humor of greener from looking at it from the other side. But it's no differa Darrell Waltrip might seem a bi gger task. But Bill Elliott ent, I don't care what you do. I mean, we'll go thinks he knows why he seems out here rac ing and have a bad Iike a prett y As successful as day, and we' ll neat de al to Bill Elliott has race fans. be all bummed been, he has " I came out out and stressed of nowhe re," ou t and put a had his share Elliott explains. lot of pressure " I was n ' t a of struggles. on ourse lves. But then name that had remember that been associated wi th racing very much, or at there's more to li fe th an thi s." all. I think people relate to me Perhaps that's why Bill Elliott's team was one of the first race because I was doing my own thi ng, and I wasn' t a part of shops to have a Bible study. " I what was already going on. think that benefits everybody on "A lso, I 've had a good the team," he says. The team Elliott drives for strong fan base, and they've stuck with me through now is one that he is proud to th ick and thin." represent. Unlike before, when As success ful as his team owner Juni or Johnson Elli ott has been, he was contracted wi th a brewery, Elliott's new situation finds him has had his share of co-owning his McDonald's car struggles. Some of the struggles happen on the with Charles Hardy. trac k, but the wo rst "The troublesome th ing I had came in 1991, when his before was that it was hard to remother and hi s grandlate to ki ds. If I wanted to do mother died within an appearance, kids couldn 't be days of each other. there. It's easier today. You go to a McDonald 's and the kids can It is during times like these that Elliott relies come. There's no controversy, and on something th at has that's made it easier." nothing to do with racing It makes sense. The circuit 's or popularity contests or most popular driver associates sponsors. "My faith in wi th America's mos t popular the Lord helps me from eatery. No matter what outside act ivit ies Bi ll Elli ott may not the standpoint of learning how to deal with enjoy, it would be hard not to things. It helps put me at li ke that combination. With fries peace with my life." and a Coke, of course. Elli ott rea li zes an -Dave Branon

S PORT S SPECTRUM • A U G U ST 1995


Hut

st ..icklin

• Strictly Out Of Control in Turn I," the announcer shouts. The racing world holds its collective breath as a car careens into the wall, spraying metal like a Salad Shooter shredding lettuce. When you're out of control at 25 mph, it can mean a dented fender and a bit of an inconvenience, but when you're out of control at 200 mph, it can mean the party is over. To make-or for that matter keep-a life in racing, a driver must always be in control. But for Hut Stricklin, the first part of the 1995 NASCAR season was strictly out of his control. Oh, he wasn't having any trouble behind the wheel; he was having trouble finding a wheel to get behind. It looked like the 34-year-old driver, who had qualified for the first Brickyard 400 on the first day of the 1994 trials, would be missing out on the 1995 season, with only fond memories of that historic first race at Indy to bolster him. "It was probably one of the alltime biggest thrills o~ my life to get to run at Indianapolis, especially with it being the first time Winston Cup cars went there," Hut admits. "You know, with all the hype for the whole week, it's tons of pressure on the driver, especially during the qualifying. It was really something neat to be a part of." So how could a driver who had won more than $1,900,000 in his career and who had raced to 5 top 5 and 20 top I0 finishes become " HIS CAR IS OUT OF CONTROL

a man without a car? "What hap- • people wouldn' t forget me. We were trying to explore all the pened at the end, or about 3/4 of avenues that might open up." the way through the 1994 seaBut Hut's faith wasn't placed son, Travis Carter [race car in his credentials as a veteran owner] and I sat down, and we NASCAR driver; he looked to decided that it would just be best for both parties to go our sepaanother Source. "You have to put rate ways in the 1995 season," all yo ur trust and faith in the Lord, and let Him lead you as to Hut explains. That's when things went from Stricklin business to Stricklin "It was probably unemployment. And strictly out of Stricklin's one of the allcontrol. time biggest : With wife Pam , daughter Tabitha Jean, and son Tay lor thrills of my life : : Lane to support, he found himself up a track without a ride. He to get to run at : : was in need of a job aIa Hut. Indianapolis." : So what does a driver do when it seems like others are on the - - - - - - - - - - - : fast track while he's standing in what you're gonna do next," the : the pits? Stricklin shares, "I was Calera, Alabama, native explains. • "You've just got to surrender : going to every race and trying to it all to Him, give it all up to keep my face out there where S P O RT S S P ECTRUM • A U G U S T 1 995

Him , and let Him handle it." Hut admits he 's learned that by experience. " I mean, I' ve tried to handle it by myself. I can't do it. And after all, everything is His anyway, so He can control it entirely the way He wants to control it." So what happened when Hut Stricklin let God take the controls of his life? God put him behind the controls of a race car again. Hut now drives Quaker State 's No . 26 Ford Thunderbird. "This is a quality race team," Stricklin says of owner Kenny Bernstein's crew. "One of the best I've been with." Bern stein' s fa ith in Hut Stricklin began to pay off soon after the two joined forces. First, Stricklin finished seventh at the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29, earning the team a nifty $30,000. The next week, driving at Dover, Stricklin manuevered the Quaker State car to a fourth -pl ace finis h to bring home another $36,6 15. For a driver who didn't have a ride just 6 weeks earlier, that' s impressive stuff. Hut Stricklin 's faith in Christ has not only changed his perspective on life, but it has also given him a new perspective when he's behind the wheel. "It's given me a peace of mind," says Hut. "You hope and pray nothing happens, but it's given me a peace of mind if something does. It's just a plus to me. I don't see how anyone can go out and drive one of these things at 200 mph and not have their heart right with God." There's nothing out of control about that kind of attitude. -Bev Flynn 21


N AUGUST 20, 1994, ERN IE lRVAN DIDN'T DIE.

When his Robert Yates Racing Ford Thunderbird broadsided a wall at more than 170 miles per hour, it stopped his pursuit of a Winston Cup title, cracked his skull, damaged his lungs, and sent shock waves through NASCAR. But Emie didn't die. At least one of the emergency workers who pulled him from his shredded car at the Michigan International Speedway thought he was dead. And for a while the chances that Irvan wouldn't make it were nine times greater than the chances that he would. When hi s wife Kim arri ved at the hospital to be with her comatose husband, for example, she was informed that she most li kely would soon be a widow. In her desperation, she began to pray. And so did NASCAR fa ns around the country. "The prayer was unbelievable," Irvan says now. " Anybody who comes and

A Looking better. The eye patch that was so much a part of Ernie lrvan's life during the first quarter of 19951s gone, replaced by glasses, which may fix the double vision that keeps him sidelined.

talks to me now wi ll always say, 'I really prayed for you after your accident." And, of course, Ernie Irvan did not die. In fac t, he kept getting better and better, defying doctors' predictions so much so that he actually returned to the track for a visit less than 2 months after the crash. There he was at Charlotte, eyepatch and all. Alive and getting well , itching to get back into the action. Before the accident late last summer, Irva n was in the thick of th ings in NASCAR's big league. He was hot on the tail of Dale Earnhardt's Goodwrench number 3 as the two raced toward the lead in Winston Cup points. As lrvan practiced for the GM Goodwrench 400 at Michigan, he was just 27 points behind Earnhardt. It had been an incred ible year for Irvan. He had already won three races: back-to-back victories at the Pontiac Exc ite ment 400 in Ri chmond and the Purolator 500 in Atlanta, as well as the Save Mart 300 in Sears Point ,

Ernie Irvan's best season on the track ended in the worst possible way, but so~nething that had happened off the track pulled him through

By Dave Branon


MIRA CLE

.A The tradition continues. The highly

successful Texaco Havollne 28 car of the Robert Yates Racing team was first driven by Davey Allison. Ernie lrvan replaced Allison after Davey was killed In a helicopter crash.

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California. In 20 races, he had racked up 13 top 5 finishes. By August 20, the Salinas, California, native had already accumulated enough points in the standings that he would finish 22nd, despite missing the last II races. What is even more incredible, his 2,149.51 miles in first place at that point in the season topped the entire NASCAR field for 1994. Those were surely some memory-maker slats for Irvan. But if you ask Ernie Irvan for his memories about that horrendous scene in Brooklyn, Michigan, last August, he draws a blank. "I don't really remember any of that," he says. "You know, I don't remember anything in the next 25 days. I've seen the videos and stuff, and I thought maybe I'd get some memory back on that. But I didn't." He doesn't remember his right front tire blowing out, pulling his car into the wall. He doesn't remember the frantic rescue efforts. He doesn't remember his wife Kim spending days at a time at his hospital bedside, doing what millions of racing fans were doing- pleading with God not to let him die. Even though Ernie Irvan doesn't recall the circumstances that surrounded his accident, he understands the significance of what happened to him. And in his mind it relates to something that happened to him not long before he crashed on the Michigan track. NASCAR drivers, it is safe to say, understand the importance of insurance policies. Even in the case of Ernie Irvan and his accident, he knows that despite his 8-year career earnings of more than $5 million, the millions of dollars in medical bills that followed his accident and subsequent treatment would have been devastating if he, NASCAR, and his race team hadn't had good coverage. But to Irvan, there was another kind of coverage that has become even more important to him. Eternal life insurance, you might call it. For him, it began at the Poco no Raceway in

M AN

Long Pond, Pennsylvania. It was Sunday, and as usual a large crowd had gathered in the garage area for chapel just an hour or so before the start of the race. As was his custom, Max Helton, NASCAR 's popu lar chaplain, led a serv ice for the drivers and crews, complete with music and a message. On that July Sunday, Ernie Irvan got the message. He realized that when Max Helton talked about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Max was talking to him. So Ernie got together with Max and talked about this idea of having faith in Jesus. "I gave BAW< SPUR.o câ&#x20AC;˘ myself to Christ," is how lrvan puts it. "It was the biggest thing I ever did," says the man who once won $233,000 in one weekend racing a car. "When I gave myself to Christ, it was like taking out an insurance policy," Irvan explains. Perhaps Irvan was not making the most sophisticated expression of faith, but he knew that by putting his faith in Jesus Christ, he was assured of a place in heaven should he die. He had no way of knowing how close he would come to needing that "insurance" just a few weeks later. "I really didn't know trusting Jesus was that easy," says lrvan of trusting Christ as his Savior. "You always think it's tough. You think you've got to stand up in front of a bunch of people and be embarrassed about it. Some people are bold, and some people aren't." For years, Ernie lrvan was known for his boldness as a stock car driver. Perhaps because he had to fight his way onto the circuit, he felt he had to fight to stay on. It took him 5 years from the time he moved from Salinas, California, to North Carolina to work his way up to earning a ride on the NASCAR circuit. With sweat equity and a little help from some friends, lrvan raced five times in 1987 and won $23,050. Two more seasons went by before Irvan wo n a race, the 1990 Goody's 500 in Bristol, Tennessee. Eight years after a moneyless Ernie lrvan had pickuptrucked his way across America hauling a homemade car frame behind him, he established himself as a NASCAR champion. But all was not well between Ernie and his fellow drivers. His bold, flat-out style of driving angered some of the established drivers. He was wild and unpredictable- two frustrating traits for other drivers to deal with as they all share the road at 150 miles per hour. Finally, sensing that his career was dependent on his relationship with his peers, Irvan went before his fellow drivers and apologized for his recklessness. It was a bold move by a brash driver who wanted to be known for a great driving career instead of for dri ving a potential career into a brick wall of his own making. In the spring of 1995, less than a year after he had trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior, lrvan made another

S PORTS S PEC TRUM â&#x20AC;˘ AU G U S T 1 995


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bold move. He stood up in front of a huge audience and spoke out for his new faith. It may have been even harder than standing up in front of a bunch of skeptical NASCAR drivers and telling them he was sorry, but for a man who had faced death head-on and won, it was not impossible. "There were about 2,000 people there," Irvan says. "It was the first time I had talked about my faith in public. The first time I had given my testimony. Then Max Helton came up after I talked and told the people how to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. That night, something li ke 180 people trusted Jesus." As Irvan thinks about why he didn' t die last August despite the traumatic bashing his body endured, he searches deep for the answer. "I was saved for some reason, and I really don' t know what that reason is," he says. "I know that if it was simply to go to Atlanta and talk to those people, God would have taken me right after that. But He didn 't, so I've still got other things to do for Him." During the 1995 season, Jrvan has been trying to see if one of the things he is supposed to be doing is making a comeback. If his own work ethic has anyth ing to do with it, he will. "Physicall y, I'm in far better shape than I was before," he says. "I work out every day. I got with some good people, and they showed me how to work out properly. When I come back, I'm going to be in better shape than ever." The road back to the track has been made longer by a persistent problem wi th Ernie's eyes. One of the residual effects of the head trauma has been double vision. Yet that has not kept Jrvan from dri ving. Hi s first ex perience behind the wheel cam e at Darlington on March 14, where he drove his Busch Grand National Series Thunderbi rd around that 1.4mile superspeedway. With no one else on the track, Irvan hit speeds of 160 miles per hour. Other road tests for the rehabbing Irvan included a few spins around the North Wil kes boro , No rth Carolina, track in his Ford F- 150 pickup, which is driven in the NASCAR SuperTruck Series by Joe Ruttman. And right after that, Irvan joined teammate Dale Jarrett on the track at Road Atlanta. This time lrvan drove one of the Havoline Thunderbirds. The comeback attempt has captured the attention of fans and fellow drivers alike. Darrell Waltri p for one has been praying that Ernie makes it all the way back. "When he got hurt," Darrell says, "the thing my wife and I prayed for over and over was this: ' Lord, Ernie is developing a relationshi p with You. This is an opportunity for You, Lord, to heal him and bring him back.' Everybody's prayi ng for him." So far, in addition to the hard work and the prayers, lrvan sti ll needs additional help from physicians, who have helped bring him this far. In earl y May, lrvan underwent successful surgery in San Francisco to repair a pseudo-aneurysm at the base of his skull and to preserve the left carotid artery. At the time, the doctors suggested that Irvan sit out for 3 more months before getting back to driving on the track. Two days after the surgery, Irvan was on the scene in Sonoma, California, for the Save Mart 300- a race

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Irvan had won in 1994. He was not driving, of course, but he wasn't far from it. It's been nearly a year now since Ernie lrvan's life was rearranged because of a blown-out tire. He reali zes that the distance he has come since he was pulled from his crumpled Ford is nothing short of a mi racle. "I'd never been involved with any part of an injury like that. The doctors kept telling me that the recovery has been unbelievable. I think my faith reall y showed its true colors through all this." That faith will be tested even more as the months go by and the races go unraced. For now, Irvan has the kind of attitude that will help him survive, whether he can race again or not. "If I don 't race again, I know

there's something else God has planned for me. I really don't want to look at that side of things, but I know there's something for me." In any sport, a serious accident can leave the injured athlete unsure of himself- afraid of the future. For Irvan, it seems to have worked in an opposite way. Waltrip says of lrvan, with whom he participates in Bible studies, "He's a lot more committed [to his faith] than he was. He knows what saved his life. I' m not sure he knew that before the accident." The rac ing world is glad Ernie Irvan is still ali ve. And eager to see what the futu re holds for the mi racle man.

A On the road back. Just 2 months after racing fans watched Ernie lrvan being airlifted out of the Michigan International Speedway in critical condition, they welcomed him back at the Mello Yelle 500 in Charlotte.

What's The Purpose? Having fa ced down death , Ernie Irvan is aware of the importance of asking life's tough questions-such as, why am I here? If you too are looking for an answer to that question, we have a booklet for you. To receive a free copy of Why In The World Am I Here? check th e box labeled LIFE on the card between pages 24 and 25 and send it to us.

S P OR T S S P ECTR UM- A U G U S T 1 995

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People In Sports Tell Their Own Stories OfFaith By Darrell Waltrip

estern Auto #17

"I .JUST HAD TO GET MYSELF STRAIGHTENED OUT" N 1983 I WASN ' T VERY popular with the fans. As a matter ! of fact, I wasn't very popular ! at all. I was a smart-mouthed, cocky, arrogant sports figure. But then a couple of things happened that got my attention. First, I had an accident at Daytona and suffered a serious concussion. I didn ' t break any bones or anything like it, just the head injury. It was a really ugly scene. After that crash, I kind of stepped back a little bit. I said to myself, "You know, I could get seriously hurt doing this sometime, and my priorities are not right. I'm not committed to the right thing. I've been committed to racing." At the time, I was a "blame" guy. If I didn 't succeed, I'd blame somebody else. My crew wasn't any good. Or my car wasn't any good. Or another dri ver wasn' t any good. I had a real tendency to blame everyone but myself for my failures. On the other hand, I was per- • feet. At least that's what I thought. ! Also in 1983, my wife, Stevie, ! and I wanted to have a family, but ! .A Looking back; looking ahead. Darrell Waltrip started racing on the NASCAR circuit in 1972 and has accumulated a truck full of we were not having any success. : awards, Including three-time points champion (1981 ,'82, and '85), We had a couple of miscarriages. ! third-place ranking in all-time winnings, 84 Winston Cup victories, I was so wrapped up in my ! and two-time Most Popular Driver. But the gregarious driver from professional life that I'd never ! Franklin, Tennessee, Is not resting on the past. He would love to really thought much about my hit the 100-win mark and capture another Winston Cup title. personal life. I've had success, but there was but I have this hollow feeling in And I never thought about a just something missing." When me- this emptiness in me. I'm commitment to God. Yet there they said those th ings, I was achieving, but I'm not satisfied were so many things in my per- always sitting there wondering, with what I'm achieving." sonal life I wasn't happy about. "What could it be? What could be That drew me- the accident All along, I had been listening missing?" and our problems at home-to an to other people's testimoniesAs I became more and more : interest in what the Bible had to particularly athletes and success- successful at raci ng, and as I ! say about what I was doing. I ful people. They were always accomplished the goals that I had ! wa nted to know what it said saying , "Well , there was ju st set for myself, I found the same ! about my pride, my ego, my prisomething missing. They would thing to be true for me. orities, my successes, and my say, "I've made a lot of money, I'd think, "I have a great life, ! failures. L . __

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SPORTS SPEC TRUM • AU GUST 1 995

I sat down one night with Stevie, and I talked to her about what was going on. "You know," I told her, "I've got my priorities all wrong. Raci ng first, me second, maybe you' re third, Stevie." And I told her that it's not working. That this is not the way I was brought up. That I know better, and I just had to get myself ! straightened out. Soon after that, I met a minis! ter named Dr. Cortez Cooper. We ! didn't go to church a lot because ! we were always racing on ! Sundays. Dr. Cooper happened to : have a Bible study on Wednesday ' nights in Nashville. Some friends were going, and they said, "There's no reason you can't go on Wednesday night. You' re in ! town every Wednesday night, it's ! a covered dish supper, and they • have an hour of study. You need to go and get involved in a Bible study." "Nah," I told them. ''I'm too busy. I don't have many days at home, so I need to just kind of hang around the house." Eventually, I wen t because Stevie drove me down there, and I got to know Dr. Cooper. I haven' t had a lot of personal friends in my life, a lot of people that I confide in. You know, when you compete against people all the time, they can' t be your heroes. They can't be people you confide in. They can't be people you talk to , because you're always out there trying to beat them. You want them to think you' re a lot meaner than you are. It had gotten to the point where I didn't have any mentors-no one to spill my guts to. As I said earl ier, I was not very popular. I had a beer sponsor, and I was a pretty rowdy ! guy. But surprisingly enough, Dr. Cooper knew all about me. ! He knew about racing; he knew


to Stevie. We wanted a family , and when it didn't happen I'd tell her, "You know, being a Christian and trying to live a Christian life and trying to be a right kind of guy-I don't think it's working for me. I don ' t think the Lord likes me. I think He looks at me as if I' m a hypocrite or something. I don't even think He hears my prayers." That 's when I told her I had to start figuring out a better way to get through â&#x20AC;˘ to Him. "Maybe I'll tell Him I'm No. 17, and He 'II know who .A. Old days. Racing with the Rick Hendricks/ that is." Tide team in the late 80s, Darrell had great But even durin g success on the track, winning 9 races between September 1987 and September those tough times, Dr. 1989. Off the track, he and Stevie welcomed Cooper taught me that many changes, including the birth of their everything isn't always first child, Jessica, in 1987. all right. What I have learned about everything I'd done. is this: God is there all the time. So we developed a real solid relationship. He counseled me And whether you're having a good, bad, or indifferent day, and showed me a lot of love and respect. He was the first minister you can talk to the Lord. You in my life who could really make can be mad at Him. He's got a great sense of humor. He's the Bible come alive. everything you'd want your best With his help, I accepted Jesus to be. friend as my Savior. I made a commitAnd that's exactly what He is. ment to Him, and hav e been D working hard to live up to it ever since. Dr. Cooper taught me so many biblical principles that I'd never known before. He was a breath discovered 12 years ago was of fresh air for me. He kind of an importalll truth. Through led me where I needed to go. He salvation you can establish a didn't force me; he didn't push relationship with the God of the me. Stevie and I became real universe. We have a booklet on close to him and his wife. this topic. To receive a free copy That year was a real turning of What Does God Think Of Me point in my life. Now? check the box labeled Yet we still had problems. We BEST FRIEND on the card had a couple more miscarriages, between pages 24 and 25 and and that was really disheartening drop it in the mail.

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E..l:=J.rJ .rJaD J~ E) .fJ 33JJ1J1J 1884 aJUCKYARD IIINI8Ht 8TH liLAC.

I HOPE I DON'T OFFEND ANYONE, but the Indianapolis track truly is the holy land of racing. As a kid growing up in Owensboro, Kentuckywhich is not too terribly far from Indianapolis-and after watching the Indy 500 year after year on TV, I've grown to love that race. I never thought I'd see the day when I would go there and compete. It's not often a person gets to live one of their childhood dreams. Les Richter, who was the director of competition, called me up a couple of years ago, and said, "How would you like to run at Indy?" I said, "Oh man, if you'd called me 10 years ago I would have probably done it. But I'm just too old. My wife Stevie would have a fit if I told her I was gonna even think about going to Indy. He started laughing and said, "No, no, no, no! How would you like to run Indy in your own car?" "Oh yeah, now you're talking," I said. A lot of exciting things happened to me at Indy last year. One of them hap- .A. Dream come true. Darrell Waltrip pened during qualify- calls racing at Indy " better than a ing. 1 didn't qualify in dream because in my dream I was the top 20 the first driving an Indy car. But I get t.~ drive day, so we have sec- my own Western Auto Chevy. ond round qualifying. In NASCAR, if you don't get in on the first day, you know you'll make it the second day. So there's not a lot of pressure on those of us who have been racing for a long time. I go out on the race track on the second day of qualifying, and the place is packed- just for qualifying. I have a much better time on the second day, and I'm pretty satisfied. As I'm coasting around the track, people are screaming, they're hollering, they're throwing their hats in the air, they're waving. I'm riding down through there and I'm thinking, "This is big, this is really big. I don't know what I've done, I must have broken the track record." I look up at the board, and I see that I'm like 23rd at that point. And I said to myself, "That's not so great." As I continue to ride toward the pits, I let the window net down and the people are screaming. What I didn't realize was that the people that go to Indy consider qualifying for the Indy 500 to be a great achievement. With NASCAR, it's almost a given. These people didn't realize that, hey, this is just second-round qualifying. It ain't really that big a deal. They just realized I had made the race, and they were all excited. It was such a different atmosphere. I can't wait to get back! - Darrell Waltrip

SPO RTS S PEC TRU M â&#x20AC;˘ A U G U S T 1 995

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It's been a fast and furious entry into NASCAR for Norm Miller and the Interstate Batteries team

... With Rob B entz

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Sports Spectrum: How did the Chairman of the Board o·f Interstate Batteries become involved in NASCAR racing? Miller: We had been thinking th at we needed to get into racing. And once we star ted th e Interstate Batteries Great American Race, an antique classic car race, ~ we became more visible to the automotive -. "racing" type crowd. So, we began to get •a offers to be in different racing venues, like Indy and some NASCAR stuff- but we •a didn' t have the money we felt we needed to :• clo the best we could, so we endeavored to do something else.

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Stanley Sm ith , who was racing on the NASCAR circuit in th e All -Ameri can Challenge Series, presented us with a sponsorship proposition. He had been in racing for a number of years and hac! finished third in that series the previous year, so we thought it was a good place to get our feet wet. We agreed to sponsor him and announced it to all of our distributors. The response of our constituency was great! In the middle of that, somebody offered Stanley a limited ride on the Winston Cup circuit. But they still needed us to help sponsor the car. So, that whet our appetite for the big time.

During the next year, Stanley ran some Busch races and a few Winston Cup races. In the midst of that, I got a call from Joe Gibbs. He told me that he was going to start a Winston Cup race team, and he wanted to present us with a proposal. What was funny was in that first phone call he said he would not accept somebody else's offer until he made us a presentation. I remember thinking, "That's kind of unusual." He came down to visit me here in Texas a couple of nights later, went through the proposal, and went back to Washington. I got my three senior management guys together, and


'93 season, you struggled a we looked at the pluses, the little bit in '94-fi ni shing minuses, and the potential. We 16th in the final Winston Cup knew Joe was dedicated to A standings. Then Dale Jarrett putting a winner up front, and Have you ever heard decided to leave your team for our constituency loved racing someone refer to a busithe Robert Yates-owned so much that we decided to go ness as a Christ-centered Havoline team. What are your for it! business? Ever wondered thoughts on how that scenario SS : What made you decide what in the world they're played out? to venture into stock car racing talking about? Interstate Miller: At first I was shocked rather than Indy car? Batteries Chairman Norm and dismayed that the whole Miller: Stanley Smith Miller has the answer, thing fell apart . But after I brought us into NASCAR. It because he strives to thought it out, I decided that we wasn't Gibbs. It was Stanley make his company, the didn 't have a driver when we and his son Brett. Brett was country's No. 1 seller of signed on, and God gave us just dialing the phone, coldreplacement batteries, a Dale. So we trusted God, and He calling people. That's how we Christ-centered business. gave us the driver He wanted us got started. "We decided that we've to have now. We're really SS: When you started disgot to think about trying pumped to have Bobby Labonte. cussing a deal with Joe Gibbs, to honor God, not man, Especially the way he's looked what were some things that with what we do. So we so far this year. were important to you in committed to do it. We SS: What specific goals were putting the Interstate/Gibbs now try to put God first set for the Interstate/ Gibbs team together? and platform Him whenteam as you headed into this Miller: When Joe and I startever the opportunity is ed working on a deal, I told season? available. Miller: The team's goal was to him I felt as if God wanted me We ask God to help us win a race, which we've already to be sure that whatever I got be perfectly bold and done, and finish in the top 10 in involved in, it had an evangeappropriately sensitive. listic drive to it. Joe said that's Winston Cup points. Ideally , We don't want to be we'd love to finish at least in 5th exactly how he felt . So there offensive. We just commit place in the standings. was an immedi ate union. I our ways to Him, and try SS: Norm, yo u mentioned always sensed a real strong to honor him in the way that one goal of the team was moving of God for us to do we act and the way we to win a race. You already this deal with Joe. treat everybody." accomplished that when Bobby SS: Your racing relationship That's a business with won the Coca-Cola 600 and the with Joe Gibbs started with the a refreshing difference. UA W-GM Teamwork 500. But 1992 Winston Cup season, and - Rob Bentz Dale Jarrett was your driver. what abo ut your personal goals? What are some things Describe that first year. Miller: The first year we had all kinds of you want to see happen? Miller: The thing I'm excited about is that problems. In Daytona, we started 35th yet after 85 laps we were running 7th-we were NASCAR is growing. It is certainly a national venue. It's not regional, as some people say it smokin' ! We had a great car, but we got caught up in is. With new tracks being worked on in Dallas a big wreck. Dale was wrecked, sitting there and California, it's being nationally acclaimed. sideways, and he got T-boned. He said it was I just see this thing as being a great ministry the hardest lick he'd ever taken in racing. After opportunity. A number of these guys are boldly honoring God in public. that, the whole year was just a scramble. SS : After a rou gh first yea r with the SS: The NASCAR circuit received a lot of Interstate/Gibbs team, you came out strong in publicity with last year's first-ever Winston the first race of the 1993 season at the Cup race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. What are your thoughts on NASCAR racing Daytona 500. Miller: Yeah, we jumped out of the chute at the legendary Brickyard? Miller: I love it! I think it's just wonderful with a victory at Daytona and ran strong all year. We finished the year 4th in Winston Cup for NASCAR to have that union with the old points. Winning the Daytona, without a doubt, Indy history and tradition. They love racing in has been the highlight fo r us so far in Mid-America. Indy racing is wonderful and NASCAR. NASCAR is wonderful, and I just love seeing SS: After the team had great success in the the two of them get together.

Business With Difference

S PORTS S P EC TRUM â&#x20AC;˘ AU G U S T 1 99 5

GReG CRISP

A. Super Bowl of racing. Joe Gibbs' first NASCAR win was the big onethe Daytona 500 with Date Jarrett at the wheel.

Still Winning Talk about your two-sport stars I When discussion turns to talk of sports figures who have excelled in two sports, names like Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson usually come to mind. But there's one man who's done something so unique it deserves a special place in sports history. Joe Gibbs has led two teams in two clearly different sports to each sport's top prize. Until Pat Riley takes over the Yankees and leads them to victory in the Fall Classic, we won't see anything close to what Gibbs has done. First, Gibbs won four Super Bowl rings as coach of the Washington Redskins. Then he earned a spot in the winner's circle at the Daytona 500 when his car, the Interstate Batteries Lumina driven by Dale Jarrett, won the race in 1993. "The win at Daytona came at a critical time-right when we needed real encouragement," says Gibbs, who knows a lot about critical times and encouragement. He has had to be the encouraging factor for his wife, who has faced critical surgery in the past few years. Gibbs knows that despite his success, he is not in ultimate control of things. 'When I stand back and look at football, I realize how little I could control. You know, the ball bounces in funny ways, players get hurt. I realized the whole time I was in the NFL how dependent I was on the Lord. Then I got into auto racing, and I think it's worse. You've got so many things you can't control. "Guys get hurt, cars get torn up, drivers want out. We've got all kinds of things that can happen. Yet, through all that to have a Christian owner like Norm whom you can call and talk to-it's like a support group. "We've gone through some tough things in the 3 112 years we've been together. And I think it's neat to have that kind of support and know that they're praying for me. We all need to depend on the Lord." - Dave Branon

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And The Winner Is ... At Indy, just one entrant will capture the checkered flag; in life, though, everyone can win the ultimate prize-including you T'S AUGUST 5, 1995, and 43 cars line the grid at Ind y. Wa ves of August heat rise from the pavement as the drivers strain to hear those four famous words, "Gentlemen! Start your engines!" Suddenly, a thunderous roar vibrates across the Indy asphalt that covers the original 3 million bricks which gave the race its name. The fl ag drops as 43 drivers, itching to go flat-out for glory, warm up their tires as they chase the pace car down the track. More than 200,000 people rise to their feet as one, with a sound that rivals the decibel level of the cars. For the next 3 hours, the pack will shadow Jeff Gordon's 1994 glory as they attempt to take home the huge first place purse. Every member of every team will shave off every second they can- whether it's a crew member in the pits changing tires or the spotter in the booth searching for a good groove to ride or the racer in the driver's seat planning his strategy. Everyone wants to win. But no one wants everyone to win. What good would it do if at the end of the race the Indy officials announced that because everyone gave a great effort, because all the teams were sincere in their belief that they could win, and because it wo uldn ' t be fair if someone lost, eyery driver would be declared the winner of the 1995 Brickyard 400? The 43rd-place finisher would be a winner because the crash he was in wasn't his fault. The 37thplace driver, whose transmission gave out on lap 126, would win because after all, he didn't design the thing. And the 3rd-place driver wou ld win because everybody felt so sorry for him. It wouldn't work, would it? We all have this intrinsic feeling that a driver has to earn a vic-

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spot in the winner's circ le, not every person who walks this earth is a ut oma ti ca ll y g u a rant ee d entrance into heaven. There are, however, a couple of big differences between gett ing into heaven and winning a race. For one th ing, even though not everyone will be a winner in the race to heaven, the opportunity is open to all. And for another, no one can earn etern al life. Jeff Gordon can win the Brickyard beca use of hi s effort and ski lls. Neither Jeff Gordon- nor any tory. It shouldn't be given to him at no cost- unconnected to some other human-can earn a trip to God's winner's circle by his or solid criteria. Is what is true of rac ing also her own effort . Only Jesus Christ was able to true of something of even greater do what it takes to earn us importance? When it comes to thinking entrance into God's kingdom. Each of us is a sinner (Romans about who is going to go to heaven at the end of life, do we 3:23). And because we hav e tend to think that God is going to sinned, we cannot enter God's ju st wave eve ryone in wit h a perfect heavenl y kingdom. We all stand condemned to spend checkered flag? Is God simply going to open eternit y se parated from God. heaven's gate to all? One person That is the world 's worst-ever, gets in because he was sincere in worst-case scenario. But there is Someone who can hi s beliefs? Another person • sneaks by because she did a lot of : rescue us! Jesus Christ, who walked the good? Still another is ad mitted because he went to church some- dusty roads of the Middle East times? Someone else fil es past about 2,000 years ago, lived a perthe door because she had a never- fect life for 33 years. He was then crucified on a cross by people who give-up attitude? didn't know that they were killing Not on your eternal life! Just as not every driver who the Son of God. When Jesus died, fires up the old engine at Indy can He took on Himself the sins of all automaticall y be guaranteed a mankind. He became our substiS P O RTS SPEC TRUM • AU G U S T 1 995

tute. And 3 days later, He arose as the victor over death. That gave us an avenue to God. When we by faith put our trust in Jesus Christ to take away the burden of our sins, He redeems us and promises us an eternal home in heaven. Here's the plan: fTI Admit that you are a sinner. W Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." ltl Believe on the Lord Jesus l!JCflri st. Ac ts 16:3 1 says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." r.]Confess Jesus before others. l.!llln Matthew 10:32, Jesus said, " Whoever acknow ledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven." If you would like to place your faith in Jesus Christ, assuring you th ~ t you will have eternal life in heaven and a li fe of peace with God on earth, pray this prayer: " Dear Jesus, th ank you fo r dying for me on th e cross . I admit to You that I am a sinner and that I need to have my sins forgiven. I believe that by dying on the cross You took the penalty for my sin. I accept You right now as my Savior. Thank You for loving me enough to die for me. Help me to make Yo u the Lord of my life." In the race of life, that wi ll put you in the winner's circle of eternity.

6 Take A Free Booklet!

Are you still wondering how a person can know for sure that he or she can have the ultimate victory? Write and ask for the free booklet Can Anyone Really Know For Sure? You can get it by marking the box labeled SALVATION on the card be/IVeen pages 24 and 25 and sending it 10 Sports Spectrum.


••••••••••••••••••••••••••

As race time nears, chaplain Max Helton prays with Jeff & Brooke Gordon. It's a vital last-minute activity for many ofNASCAR's top drivers.

SPORTS S PECTRUM • A U GUST 1 995

31


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eyondth • II

When August rolls around and the Brickyard 400 rolls past, one thing is certain. It's almost time for the fall sports season. And that means college and pro football, the World Series, and the soon-to-follow hockey and basketball seasons. It's a sports-fan paradise. And Sports Spectrum will be there to help guide you through it. As we head into the new seasons, SS will bring you profiles on people in college football, women's track, women's tennis, major league baseball, the NFL, the NHL, the LPGA, college basketball, and the NBA. Plus a few other sports thrown in because we hate to leave anyone out. As we look beyond the Brickyard, the sports picture appears bright. We hope you'll be with us. It's going to be an awesome autumn.

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1995 August