Inspiring Athletes

Inspiring Athletes

A conversation with NASCAR driver David Starr

posted by Chad Bonham
NASCAR driver David Starr (photo courtesy of NASCARMedia.com)

NASCAR driver David Starr (photo courtesy of NASCARMedia.com)

It doesn’t matter if it’s the Camping World Truck Series, the Nationwide Series or the Sprint Cup Series. All NASCAR driver David Starr cares about is getting behind the wheel and doing what he’s loves best—racing.

Starr has spent most of 16-year career in the Truck Series where he has won four races and collected 117 top-10 finishes. He currently competes in the Nationwide Series for TriStar Motorsports in the #44 and #10 cars. But it was a conversation with Interstate Batteries president Norm Miller that led him to his greatest victory.

In this Inspiring Athletes interview, Starr talks about the family-friendly nature of NASCAR, how one question changed his life and why passion and purpose are starting to look more alike every day:

Chad Bonham: Just like a lot of people in the NASCAR community, family seems to be a very important part of your life.

David Starr: It really is. This is such a great sport. There’s so much excitement with the competition on racetrack. The sport has really grown over the years. But one thing about the whole industry is it’s definitely a family-oriented sport. Most of the drivers have wives and kids. The sport really brings families together. I meet people all the time who come to races with their parents, their kids, their aunts and uncles. They camp out at the races. It’s a common bond for a lot of families out there. I’m very blessed and very honored to a part of this sport.

Bonham: I first heard your testimony as part of an “I Am Second” video piece. Tell me about how Norm Miller helped lead you into a relationship with Christ.

David Starr drove the #10 car for TriStar Motorsports at the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International in February of 2014 (photo courtesy of NASCARMedia.com)

David Starr drove the #10 car for TriStar Motorsports at the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International in February of 2014 (photo courtesy of NASCARMedia.com)

Starr: We grew up in a Catholic church. I come from a family that had a strong faith in God. But I was just like any other typical kid. I got into fights. I got mad. I was competitive. And for a long time, I’ve just been a kid trying to grow up. When you enter adulthood and you get married and God has blessed you with the talent to be in this sport, it makes you start looking at things differently. Norm approached me years ago and asked me how my relationship was with God. I was like, “Man, that’s kind of a strange question.” I told them that I grew up going to church but he wanted to know if I was personally connected to God. I started trying to understand and we prayed together and I accepted Jesus into my life. From then, I’ve tried to live by His Word and tried to do more Bible study and live like Jesus would want me to live. I’m not one that goes out there and tells a lot of people about my faith. If people ask, I’ll tell them about it. But I’m a normal person. I make mistakes. I’ve gotten in some fights after some races. I’ve very competitive. So when I tell people that I have a personal relationship with God, they’re shocked sometimes. But just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I’m not a competitor. That doesn’t change anything. But the Lord has blessed me so much. You have to keep things in perspective. Sometimes we can get lost in what we’re doing here with the TV exposure and the sponsors, but we have church every weekend at the track and it’s important to have that quality time with the Lord and learn more about His message. Years ago, I used to be all wrapped up in what I do and how I make a living, but now I try to put the Lord first and let everything fall into place after that.

Bonham: There seems to be a wide variety of faith expression in the NASCAR garage from the young group coming up to an older driver like Morgan Shepherd and even in how some are more vocal while others tend to quietly lead by example. How does that make the NASCAR experience unique?

Starr: With Blake Koch and Trevor Bayne and Michael McDowell, you have some guys that are very vocal about their faith. I think that’s wonderful. Everybody is different with that. The Lord wants us to spread His spread. Some are comfortable with that and some aren’t. I’ve personally lived by His Word and had a personal relationship with him, but I don’t go around and talk to people about their faith. But I think it’s wonderful to have drivers like Morgan Shepherd and these younger guys getting the Word out there. It is very diverse. When they do that, I sometimes look at myself and wonder why I haven’t been more vocal. But at the end of the day, all that really matters is that you have a personal relationship with Christ. If someone wants to talk about things or if they’re struggle, I’ll be the first one to go to them and talk to them and pray for them. God is the one who can heal and fix things and guide you in the right direction. So I’m glad that we have a diverse environment. I’m glad for the ones that are putting their faith out there. We have a big audience and it’s wonderful that they take advantage of that platform.

David Starr's #44 car on pit road just before the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 (photo by Chad Bonham)

David Starr’s #44 car on pit road just before the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 (photo by Chad Bonham)

Bonham: Do you look at racing as your passion or is there also a sense of purpose that keeps you in the sport even when things might get tough?

Starr: That’s a great question. There are a lot of wonderful people out here. You’ve got to have sponsors. You’ve got to bring money to the team. It’s different than when I first started 16 years ago. I feel like the good Lord has blessed me. I feel like He’s trying to use me to spread His Word. I’ve wanted to do this since I was a little boy. Ever since I can remember, this is all I’ve ever thought about doing. But God has put me here for a reason.

Bonham: So how do you deal with the uncertainties that come each year?

Starr: You never know sometimes what you’re going to do from season to season. But at the end of the day it’s in the Lord’s hands. He wants me to do what He wants me to do. Norm has taught me that. You put it all in God’s hands and He’ll put you where He wants you to be. I pray about it. Sometimes I think they’re selfish prayers. But I want to continue to do this. It obviously takes a lot of money to do it and God has blessed me with a lot of great people in my racing career. I thank Him for those people and I ask Him to continue to let me do what I love to do. If there’s a different direction He wants me to go, then I’ll go that way and I’ll praise Him for it. You put God first and everything else will fall in place. There was a long time in my life when I didn’t put Him first. It was all about racing. As I’ve gotten older, my perspective has changed through having sons and a wife. None of this will matter when you’re not here anymore. I want to win the final race. The final race is being in Heaven. I want to win every race, but more than anything I want to win the race of life. Because I have a relationship with the Lord, I know that I’m going spend eternity with Him when it’s all said and done.

Read about the history of the faith movement within NASCAR. Pick up a copy of Faith in the Fast Lane featuring stories and commentary from Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison, Matt Kenseth and many more racing personalities.

A conversation with NASCAR driver Tanner Berryhill

posted by Chad Bonham
Tanner Berryhill next to his #17 Nationwide Series car just before the start of the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 (Photo by Chad Bonham)

Tanner Berryhill next to his #17 Nationwide Series car just before the start of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014. (Photo by Chad Bonham)

The state of Oklahoma is known for its powerhouse football programs, legendary country music stars and rich Native American heritage. Notice the absence of “famous stock car drivers” from that list.

Taylor Berryhill, barely into his 20’s, hopes to change that. The Bixby native and Nationwide Series driver has some serious racing genes in his DNA, a support system that includes his father (who doubles as team owner), and a strong faith that is rooted in an equally strong sense of purpose. In this Inspiring Athletes interview, Berryhill talks about how he got into racing, how he hopes to set a trend within his home state and what’s even more important than his career on the track:

Chad Bonham: How did you get from Bixby, Oklahoma, to NASCAR?

Tanner Berryhill: There wasn’t a whole lot of racing in Bixby, just some dirt racing here and there. I traveled to Texas Motor Speedway every weekend when I was 12 years old to race legends cars and Bandoleros. I did that for about two years and then I started traveling nationally to race. I raced in Tulsa a few times at JRP Speedway when they ran some stuff there. I just kept moving up the ranks. My dad had an Indy Car team when he was 29 and a Craftsman Truck team when he was 33 and an ARCA team from 2004 to 2005 and a Busch Series team from 2006 to 2008.

Bonham: So you got into this because you were exposed to it a young age.

Berryhill: Right. My grand dad raced. His dad raced. My great uncle raced. Everybody raced. I was basically next in line. Pavement was the way to go. My dad knew that if I wanted to make a career out of it, I needed to go to NASCAR rather than dirt racing. Personally, I like dirt racing a little bit more. It’s a little more fun.

Bonham: What has been your involvement in the famous Chili Bowl that’s held in Tulsa every winter and has featured NASCAR drivers like Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, J.J. Yeley and Justin Allgaier?

Berryhill: My grand dad actually used to own the Chili Bowl. I try to come back and do that as much as I can. It’s a really fun race.

Bonham: Do you hope that your presence in NASCAR helps encourage more drivers from Oklahoma to get into the sport?

DRIVE4COPD 300 - Practice

Tanner Berryhill drives the #17 car during practice at the DRIVE4COPD 300 in Daytona on February 22, 2014. (Photo courtesy of NASCARMedia.com)

Berryhill: That would be great. I’m actually good friends with Kenzie Ruston from El Reno. She started racing about a year after I did. We raced legends and Bandoleros together. She moved to North Carolina before I did and she’s racing in the K&N Series right now and doing really well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in some truck races or Nationwide races in the future.

Bonham: Talk about the family element of this sport and how that has helped you get through the challenges that come with a racing career.

Berryhill: My dad was my crew chief for the first year and a half that I raced in the Nationwide Series. That was pretty interesting. Then we hired another crew chief. But our team is very family oriented. It’s cool. There’s strength in family. I’m a big believer that the family that works together will succeed if the right opportunities come along. It’s a cool thing for my dad and I to be able to do this together.

Bonham: Where did you attend church in Tulsa?

Berryhill: I miss Life Church in South Tulsa so much. I lived in the neighborhood behind the campus. When I was younger, I rode my bike there. I went there for 10 years before we moved to North Carolina. We were really involved in the youth group “Switch.” When I first moved to North Carolina, I was trying to find another church but I couldn’t find anything that fit like Life Church. I went to Elevation Church and the first service I went to, (Life Church pastor) Craig Groeschel was preaching. I just thought, “Well, I think I found my church.” Steven Furtick is the pastor at Elevation and they’re growing big time out on the East Coast. Steven considers Craig his pastor. It’s pretty cool to listen to someone who has the same beliefs as Craig does.

Bonham: Expressions of the Christian faith are a pretty common thing in NASCAR. How has that made it more comfortable for you to be in this sport?

Berryhill: I started racing Nationwide when I was 18 years old. It’s crazy because there are kids that are younger than me. But what’s really helped is having an organization like MRO around. They have the chapel services and they’re around the garage if you ever need anything. We get some cool guys to lead worship for us and we have small groups during the weekend. It’s been very enjoyable. Being on the road 33 weeks of the year, this becomes your community. You have to get to along with everybody. Racing becomes your life. You still have your friends at home, but you’re with these people so much. You have to get along.

Bonham: How do you channel your passion for driving into the greater purpose for why you’re here?

Berryhill: That’s one of the coolest things about being a racecar driver. Even if its one tweet a day, the platform allows me the opportunity to change someone’s life. That’s what we’re here for. When we’re struggling on the track, I try to take myself out of the situation and realize how small these earthly problems are. I love being able to spread the Word. That’s my main purpose in life. Driving in NASCAR is icing on the cake.

Follow Tanner Berryhill’s racing career by visiting his official website at www.visionracingteam.com

Read about the history of the faith movement within NASCAR. Pick up a copy of Faith in the Fast Lane featuring stories and commentary from Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison, Matt Kenseth and many more racing personalities.

A conversation with NASCAR crew chief Jason Ratcliff

posted by Chad Bonham
Jason Ratcliff, crew chief for Matt Kenseth and the #20 Sprint Cup Series car (Brian Czobat/Photo courtesy of Joe Gibbs Racing)

Jason Ratcliff, crew chief for Matt Kenseth and the #20 Sprint Cup Series car (Brian Czobat/Photo courtesy of Joe Gibbs Racing)

For the past 15 years, Jason Ratcliff has slowly worked his way through the NASCAR ranks as a crew chief for the likes of David Green, J.J. Yeley, Aric Almirola and Jamie McMurray. He’s spent time working with Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin early in their careers and most notably helped lead Busch to the 2009 Nationwide Series title. But now that Ratcliff has made the move to the Sprint Cup Series working with Matt Kenseth and the #20 car, he admits that keeping his life’s priorities in order is more challenging than ever.

In this Inspiring Athletes interview, Ratcliff talks about Joe Gibbs’ influence, what he’s observed about Kyle Busch, which baseball legend reminds him of Matt Kenseth and how his faith in God helps him keep it all together:

Chad Bonham: Tell me about your faith background.

Jason Ratcliff: I was very fortunate to grow up in a Christian home. My dad was a minister for a little over 25 years in the Church of God (Anderson). I was very blessed to have that kind of upbringing and influence from both of my parents. That’s where it all started for me. Then probably around the age of 10 or 11, I got saved. My wife and I and our kids, that’s what we live for. Our faith is the most important thing to us. Everything we do, we try to do it to glorify God.

Bonham: What are some things you’ve learned while working at Joe Gibbs Racing?

Ratcliff: I’m very fortunate to work for Joe Gibbs. His belief and his faith are very important. Joe has been very inspiring with not just his beliefs, but with his passion and his competitiveness and how he ties that competitiveness into professional sports. He shows that there can be relationship there. You can be passionate and aggressive about what you’re doing but still be humble and still glorify God in everything you do, even when you’re on the playing field. Our mission statement is to go out there and kick everybody’s tails as often as we can, but in the end, we know that, win or lose, we are extremely blessed to be here.

Bonham: As someone who worked with Kyle Busch during his earlier years, how would you say he’s matured and grown during the past couple of seasons?

Jason Ratcliff (far left) poses with (from left to right) Nationwide Series Champion Kyle Busch, J.D. Gibbs and Joe Gibbs (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Jason Ratcliff (far left) poses with (from left to right) Nationwide Series Champion Kyle Busch, J.D. Gibbs and Joe Gibbs (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Ratcliff: Kyle is no different than the rest of us when we get married. We settle down a little bit. At the same time, When Kyle first came over to Gibbs, he was young and he still is. We’ve worked with Kyle on that part of his life. He’s benefitted from Coach’s influence and being around some people that believe in him and encourage him and support him—like Norm (Miller). Those types of influences and those types of people have meant a lot to me and I know they’ve meant a lot to Kyle as well. He’s changed a lot compared to when he first walked in the door. He was about 21 when I first started working with him in the Nationwide Series. His passion hasn’t changed a bit. He still hates losing. He still hates finishing second. But I think he’s more humble now and his outlook on life has changed. Kyle and his wife Samantha are great people. Watching Kyle grow and watching his life come together means a lot to me.

Bonham: On the flipside, you’re now working with a driver in Matt Kenseth who is the exact opposite.

Ratcliff: Nice and steady.

Bonham: It must be a completely different vibe working with him.

Jason Ratcliff (left) and Matt Kenseth (right) pose with the Quaker State 400 trophy at Kentucky Speedway on June 30, 2013. (Photo courtesy of NASCARMedia.com)

Jason Ratcliff (left) and Matt Kenseth (right) pose with the Quaker State 400 trophy at Kentucky Speedway on June 30, 2013. (Photo courtesy of NASCARMedia.com)

Ratcliff: It is. I didn’t really know Matt until a couple years ago. When I think of Matt, I think of a great family guy. He has three girls now. He loves his girls. He loves his wife. He puts things into perspective. He wants to win more than anybody out there, but he knows that there are going to be days when you can’t win and he’s going to take advantage of the days that he can and appreciate those. Earlier this year we were watching a special on (New York Yankees great) Derek Jeter. He’s just a ballplayer. He’s not going to win a home run title. But he’s just good all-around. He’s like the Matt Kenseth of baseball. Matt’s not going to go out there and lead all the laps. He’s just nice and methodical and patient and he’s going to be there at the end. He’s going to work hard to try to be the best at every aspect of the sport.

Bonham: What are the unique challenges that come with trying to balance your profession with your commitment to family and your relationship with God?

Ratcliff: It can get really crazy. Moving from the Nationwide Series to the Sprint Cup Series was quite a change. We knew it would be for us—especially not having that Sunday at home. We felt like as a family we could prepare for that and adjust our schedule and do the things we needed to do to make up for it. But it’s very difficult. We can’t sit here and say that we’ve got it all together and that we find time for everything. It’s tough to work seven days a week and come out here and be competitive and put all your time and energy into this and still have time to focus on your family and focus on God and focus on the things that mean the most to you. We’re very intentional about it. I believe in the Sabbath and I think everything that God commands us to do is important. When you live it, you can see why. It’s not for His benefit. It’s for our benefit. It’s difficult to manage that and to find that day where you can just focus on family time and make sure you’re involved with your church and that your faith is still growing and maturing. It’s definitely harder to do in this series. But I think, at the same time, this is an opportunity and a blessing for me and for my family. I think there’s a reason why I’m here. So we’re going to do our best to manage it and have faith that God will give us the strength and the direction and the guidance that we need to make it happen.

For the most comprehensive history of the faith movement within NASCAR, pick up a copy of Faith in the Fast Lane featuring stories and commentary from Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison, Matt Kenseth, Michael McDowell, Morgan Shepherd, Trevor Bayne and many more racing personalities.

A conversation with Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore

posted by Chad Bonham
Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore (Photo courtesy Kansas City Royals)

Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore (Photo courtesy Kansas City Royals)

In this day and age, it’s amazing that Kansas City General Manager Dayton Moore is even around to enjoy his team’s inspiring rise back to prominence. After all, in his nine seasons at the helm, the Royals suffered through seven consecutive losing seasons before finishing 86-76 in 2013 and finally breaking a 28-year playoff drought in 2014.

Within Major League Baseball’s ranks, patience is not usually a virtue that owners and fan bases are willing to afford. Yet here Moore somehow stands—in the background usually—enjoying the fruits of his labor. But that has never been the preeminent goal. Certainly winning games is his job, but being the general manager of his family and being an active contributor to the betterment of his community stand much higher on Moore’s priority list.

In this Inspiring Athletes interview, Moore talks about his faith, how it impacts the way he does his job and which team matters to him the most:

Chad Bonham: How do you deal with the inherent pressure that comes from running a Major League Baseball team?

Dayton Moore: First and foremost, my number one team is the one waiting for me at home every night. This life is going by pretty fast and I can’t spend a lot of time dwelling on successes or failures. More than being remembered as a great general manager, I want to be remembered as a man of God and a great father.

Bonham: What led you to becoming a Christian?

Moore: I got saved in middle school but I didn’t really understand what that meant until I recommitted my life when I was a 19-year old baseball player at George Mason.

Bonham: What are some of the challenges you see facing today’s professional baseball players.

Moore: They tend to get off track because of bad relationships or because they tie their self-worth to performance. One of my personal desires is to help players deal with those issues and help them manage the highs and the lows of the game.

Bonham: What’s your favorite Bible verse and why?

Moore: Philippians 2:3. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” In my position, there are a lot of people who are always trying to do something for me. But I want it to be the other way around. I want to find ways that I can be a blessing to others.

Bonham: How does being a Christian impact the way you look at your position?

Moore: Being a Christian and being in a position like this is somewhere between a blessing and a burden. I didn’t ask to be in this position. In a lot of ways, I have found working at the minor league level in player development to be more fulfilling. But it’s a blessing to do something that you love to do and that you’re passionate about. Sometimes the world and the media tend to put people in positions like mine on a pedestal that they don’t really deserve. If anyone deserves to be put on a pedestal, it’s the people who really do the difficult work—people like missionaries and pastors and those who work in homeless shelters.

Previous Posts

A conversation with NASCAR driver David Starr
It doesn’t matter if it’s the Camping World Truck Series, the Nationwide Series or the Sprint Cup Series. All NASCAR driver David Starr cares about is getting b

posted 6:00:28pm Nov. 11, 2014 | read full post »

A conversation with NASCAR driver Tanner Berryhill
The state of Oklahoma is known for its powerhouse foo

posted 1:00:16pm Nov. 01, 2014 | read full post »

A conversation with NASCAR crew chief Jason Ratcliff
For the past 15 years, Jason Ratcliff has slowly worked his way through the NASCAR ranks as a crew

posted 4:30:24pm Oct. 17, 2014 | read full post »

A conversation with Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore
In this day and age, it’s amazing that Kansas City General Manager Dayton Moore is even around to enjoy his team’s inspiring rise back to

posted 4:00:04am Oct. 11, 2014 | read full post »

A conversation with NASCAR crew chief Dave Rogers
Since 1998, Dave Rogers has been full

posted 7:30:01pm Sep. 24, 2014 | read full post »


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