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SPECIAL REPORT: Trevor Bayne
It was just last October when Michael Waltrip Racing dropped 19-year old Nationwide Series driver Trevor Bayne over sponsorship issues. Even though Bayne was ranked seventh in points and was clearly one of NASCAR’s rising stars, the Knoxville, Tenn., native found himself looking for a new ride just days before the race in Kansas.
Bayne never lost hope and was quickly picked up by Roush-Fenway for whom he will drive throughout the 2011 season. Even then, few had heard of Bayne outside of NASCAR’s media circles and the sports most hardcore fans.
That all changed this past Sunday when Bayne shocked the stock car racing world and became a household name with his improbable victory at the Daytona 500. He did so driving the #21 car for the legendary Woods Brothers.
“This just shows you how powerful God is,” Bayne told ESPN in Victory Lane after the spectacular finish.
Even Carl Edwards, whom Bayne masterfully blocked all the way to the finish line, was compelled to heap mounds of praise on the kid that outraced him.
“Trevor Bayne is a good guy,” Edwards told ESPN. “He’s a cool guy.”
Trevor Bayne (Photo courtesy NASCAR)
Bayne celebrated his 20th birthday a day earlier but has turned the life-changing experience into something much more than a self-indulgent moment. Bayne, who earned just over $1.4 million with the victory, traveled to Mexico during the offseason to work with orphans through Back2Back Ministries and he made sure to use his platform to raise awareness for the cause.
“Hopefully this money will help us get some more races, and there are a lot of foundations and ministries that need support,” Bayne told reporters. “Back2Back Ministries in Mexico is one, and there are a lot of good organizations that need some help, and we will help them out as much as we can.”
Personally, Bayne’s reaction and response were no big surprise. NASCAR chaplains and his fellow drivers alike have only had great things to say about his faith in God and his steadfast desire to live it out in a very real way.In fact, Bayne meets every Saturday morning just before Nationwide qualifying for a Bible study with some of his fellow Christian peers such as Justin Allgaier, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael McDowell. He is also a regular attendee of weekly services hosted by Motor Racing Outreach.
“It’s awesome to have MRO here, to have believers and followers, most importantly followers,” Bayne told me last October. “That’s been a core support for me because we’re not home on the weekends. A lot of times we get back late. We try to get back to church as much as we can, but the Cup races are on Sunday. It’s good to have that support here.”
Bayne was raised in various Baptist and Methodist churches but also likes to attend a non-denominational house of worship in Mooresville, NC as well. And as many saw on Sunday (and will continue to see throughout this season), Bayne’s infectious smile and boy-next-door attitude is a true reflection of what’s in his heart.
“I want to be real,” Bayne told me. “I don’t want to pose as anything. I don’t want to pose as a tough guy. I don’t want to pose as a nice guy. Whatever Trevor Bayne is, that’s what I’m going to be. Staying humble is the key to this. I try to let that shine through. This can be gone in a second.”
Inspiring Athletes will be posting a full interview with Bayne in the near future.