Cleat Geeks

Well-Said JAWS

When I was a young boy in the late 1970s. (Let me pause a moment while I choke on that statement.)

(Where was I? Oh yes.) When I was a young boy in the late 1970s, I remember a cold winter Sunday afternoon. My family had attended church services earlier in the day and then following lunch, we settled into our routine of a Sunday afternoon nap.

Not so for me, I didn’t like naps, though I have learned to appreciate and value them since. It was too cold and snowy outside for my friends and I to battle the elements, so I turned on the television.

It was mid-February. The football season was over. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were still in college and Michael Jordan was still in high school so the NBA had not yet become the popular commodity it is today. College basketball, though popular, was more regionally driven and certainly not at the nationwide level that it is today.

There were few channels on the television at this point. The Cable TV industry was just becoming a viable entity and the only sports on television at the time were on the network channels. For those of you too young to realize the four-letter network, ESPN, hasn’t always existed. ESPN was a twinkle, but had not launched yet.

I squatted in front of the floor console RCA television and turned the knob to change the channels. In our house I was the remote control, when I got tired or bored with clicking through the ten or less channels I stopped on the local CBS affiliate. CBS was showing the Daytona 500, a NASCAR race.

This was the first time in television sports history that there was flag-to-flag, green to checker and everything in between, coverage of an automobile race. Though it was a gamble for CBS to attempt it paid off big. There was a major snowstorm, The President’s Day weekend snowstorm of 1979 that blanketed most of the eastern United States. The audience was almost literally captive and soon captivated by the ‘Good Ole Boys’ of NASCAR.walrtip

I was one of those that became enthralled with the sport. I eventually even chose a favorite driver to follow and track, Darrell Waltrip. My decision to choose Mr. Waltrip was in large part to a film that was shown in my school within a couple of years of that first Live Daytona 500.

The film was actually a ‘Just Say No to Drugs’ initiative funded by an oil company and sponsor of NASCAR racing. I liked Darrell and it helped that he was from the state in which I lived at the time. So naturally my allegiance leaned in DW’s direction.

Darrell Waltrip is a three-time champion of the sport and won 84 races as a driver over his nearly forty-year career.waltripcar I remember him as a driver. However, many NASCAR enthusiasts of today only know Darrell as a lead analyst on television coverage of the sport on the FOX networks and purveyor of, ‘Boogity, Boogity, Boogity! Let’s go racin’ boys!’

My sincere hope that after his recent keynote address to the National Prayer Breakfast that more people will realize that Darrell Waltrip is much more than a retired racecar driver or a television sports personality. I hope that people will see what I saw in Darrell many years ago, a man to be admired and appreciated for being a Godly-man.

I am a practicing Evangelical Christian. I do not say this with any reservations or as an apology. I simply state this to you for transparency. I don’t hide my beliefs, but I do not force them down your throat either. I openly worship and proclaim Jesus Christ as my Savior and my Lord. He doesn’t have to be that for you. I simply request that your at least respect my perspective.

During the National Prayer Breakfast, Darrell Waltrip shared his story with not only those in attendance, but with the world through the medium of television via C-SPAN, and then to anyone else via the on-demand replays on the Internet. I encourage you to watch for yourself and not simply take my word for it.

Darrell’s story mimics many. Not the successful passionate racecar driver part, but the every man part. He admitted that he was not always a popular nice guy. He revealed the darker, unappealing side of himself. In so doing, he also shared his Christian witness and testimony with hundreds of thousands if not millions.

In the room, he was a proclaimer of Jesus Christ to the Dali Lama and the President of the United States among hundreds of others.waltripdayofprayer He told them and everyone, “If you don’t know Jesus Christ in a personal relationship as your Savior and Lord, then you are going to hell.”

I applaud Darrell for his convictions and his stance. I further applaud him for not taking the easy road in his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. He could have been very polished and politically correct. He could have just shared some neat stories and went on with life. No one would have criticized him or blamed him for doing so, except for maybe Darrell Waltrip.

He acknowledged in his sermon, that his Bible-study group as well as the Motor Racing Outreach, MRO, were praying right then for he and those in attendance at the breakfast. He commented on the time he had spent in prayer and preparation for the address. Through this invitation from the National Prayer Breakfast committee, Darrell Waltrip shared the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.mrologo

You can like it, lump it, or hate it, but what DW did took courage, strength, and resolve. The presence of the Holy Spirit of God was in that place. The words planted in Darrell’s heart and mind and then conveyed through his mouth were God-breathed. Those words fell upon the ears, hearts, and minds of people who desperately needed to hear them as we all do.

As a fellow Believer and long-time DW fan, I am so very proud to call him my brother in Christ. I am very encouraged to know that there are still men and women of God ready, willing, and able to take a stand for their faith.

Darrell will be persecuted for his speech. In some forums he already has been. However, he just showed up and showed off for God. It is amazing how God works through people when and if we allow Him to.

Back in Darrell’s early days of NASCAR, they called him ‘Jaws’ because he was not afraid to tell anyone and everyone what he thought. Be it about the rules, about how good he was and ornery his competitors were.

God used a crash at Daytona International Speedway in 1983 to literally, ‘Scare the hell out of him.’

Darrell Waltrip crash at Daytona in 1983.

Darrell Waltrip crash at Daytona in 1983.

The jolt of that crash caused Darrell to answer the question that all of us need to answer. If you died today would you go to heaven or hell? The answer is up to you, but choose before it’s too late.

God now uses ‘Jaws’ for His Glory! Well said Jaws, well said.

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