Beliefnet
Championship-winning racecar driver Jeff Gordon sat down with writer Dave Caldwell to talk about his faith, his Chamionship career, and the impact of Dale Earnhardt's death.

What is your religious background?
I didn't grow up in a religious family, or even in a family that went to church. I always knew I believed in God, but I don't know if I actually knew what that meant, you know?

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  • Further down the road, I got involved in the NASCAR Busch Series, in 1992, I started going to the chapel service that was going on there, then to the Winston Cup chapel service. I started kind of paying more attention, then became friends with Bobby Hillin, another driver. Then I got to know guys like Darrell Waltrip.

    Then I met Max Helton with Motor Racing Outreach. He was a big influence for me. I admired him for a lot of different reasons. He never really was pushing people into it. He just very subtly would talk to me about God. He also came to me and said Joe Gibbs wanted to talk to me about driving for his Winston Cup team, so I liked that, too. (Laughs.)

    Later, I met Brooke, who became my wife, and that was a part of her life she did grow up with. It was important to her, and she wanted it to be important to the person she was with. A lot of the (religious) questions that I felt I couldn't just ask of anybody, I felt I could ask her. I really became interested in it, and my belief just grew and grew and grew. It's just continued to grow from there.

    Have you been re-born, or had a spiritual rebirth?
    I guess you could call it that. Technically, that's what they call it. I've committed my life to Christ. I was also baptized in the same church that Brooke was baptized in. I did that just before we got married.

    What is your home church?
    We really don't have a home church. The church I was baptized at was in King, N.C., which is where Brooke's family goes to church. For me, it's just MRO, going to the chapel service that travels with us. Max Helton married Brooke and me. That's pretty much what I consider to be my church.

    Do you read the Bible?
    I go more by the message - the message in layman's terms that you can get into and understand. We have Bible studies that we go to every other week in our area. We have a lot of different Scripture books that we look at. As far as reading the Bible, I don't do it as much as I need to, that's for sure. I try to follow the message, and a lot of it we go through in our Bible studies.

    How important is Motor Racing Outreach in your spiritual life?
    I think it's extremely important, because you constantly have to be encouraged. You have to push your faith, you know, to continue to grow. And what they do for our community is just amazing.

    More on Jeff Gordon

    God Speed: After Dale Earnhardt's death, Jeff Gordon examines the risks and rewards of racing

    Listen to Jeff Gordon talk about his newly found faith
    (RealPlayer required)

    Visit Jeff Gordon's Website

    Plus:
    Remember Dale Earnhardt by adding your prayers and memories:
  • Dale Earnhardt
  • Dale Earnhardt & Family
  • Theresa Earnhardt, Dale's Widow
  • To have a chapel service is one thing. If you look at the wives and the kids not only of the drivers, but the car owners and the crew members, they feel like they're accepted here, and they feel like there's a family atmosphere.

    I give a lot of credit to MRO. They have something good over in the motor coach area at the tracks we go to. They a whole family center over there. The kids can go play, but they're around a good atmosphere - teaches them about the Bible and everything. I think it's just a wonderful thing.

    Do you and Brooke get together before a race, maybe in a special place, just you and her, and pray?
    Not really. We go to chapel together, and that's the time for us. That's really one of the last things I do before I come into the hauler and get ready. What happens is that I go over to the chapel service, and that puts me in a good frame of mind. I get to feeling good about things.

    I come over to the hauler, have a quick bite to eat, get changed, stretch my body real good, because we get cramped in there. Brooke and I will talk about things. Sometimes it's about God, sometimes it's about the race. Then I have a meeting with my team, and when we get done with that meeting, we pray. Then I walk out to the driver introductions.

    How profoundly has Dale Earnhardt's death affected your religious life?
    Of all the people that have had serious injuries or have died, I probably knew Dale the best. I wasn't very close to Adam Petty, and I knew Kenny Irwin but I wasn't very close to him.

    Dale, I wasn't extremely close to. But I had enough conversations and meetings with him to know him and the things he liked to do. The things that we had in common, they weren't a lot. But the things that we did do, we talked about. Certainly, with a guy like that, when something like that happens, it hits very close to home.
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