Inspiring Athletes

Inspiring Athletes

A conversation with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison

posted by Chad Bonham

Bobby Allison at his 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Bobby Allison’s Hall of Fame career was full of incredible highs like his three Daytona 500 victories and his 1983 Winston (now Sprint) Cup championship. But many still remember Allison for the tragic lows he experienced in 1992 when he lost his son Clifford to a practice session crash and in 1993 when he his son Davey was killed in a helicopter accident.

In this Inspiring Athletes interview, Allison talks about his early race days, how his faith helped him deal with the loss of his two sons, and why NASCAR is so influenced by the Christian faith:

Chad Bonham: How did you get into racing?

Bobby Allison: I’m from Miami and racing was starting to begin down there when I was a youngster. Out of high school at age 17, I got the opportunity to go to Wisconsin and live with my aunt and uncle and my cousins and go to work for Mercury (at Ford Motors) in the proving grounds. My mom was trying to get me away from racing. I got to Wisconsin in the summer and every town in Wisconsin had a racetrack it seemed like and they raced seven days and seven nights a week and sometimes twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday. I went to lots of races. I didn’t race there but I went to lots of races and watched and got a few heroes of my own along the way.

Bonham: How were you able to deal with losing your two sons so close together?

Bobby Allison leads his son Davey at the 1988 Daytona 500 where the two would go on to finish first and second (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Allison: It was really tough. I had been hurt at Pocono and had a head injury as well as the physical injuries. I healed up from the physical injuries quickly and incredibly well, but my head injury gave me terrible memory loss and confusion. I would see somebody who had been a good friend and I wouldn’t know them. I was dealing with a lot of personal confusion and then our youngest son Clifford got killed. It was an incredible tragedy. I can’t even put it into perspective from my standpoint. I wasn’t mentally recovered enough to be able to deal with it like I could have had I not been injured at Pocono. It was so devastating to me. It caused me so much mental agony on a constant basis. Somebody would walk up and say something and I’d start crying. It was a terrible, terrible deal. I finally recovered from that a little bit and got to where I felt under control a little bit better. Davey began to ask me to travel with him to different events. I had been with Davey in New Hampshire the week before he died on Monday in the helicopter. When we lost Davey, it put me right back into such a feeling of being totally defeated. It was mental and physical pain that you can’t believe. The one thing that I could do is I could pray.

Bonham: What has NASCAR traditionally embraced expressions of faith and ministry at the track?

Allison: Most of these guys, from the lowest mechanic down the line up to the highest NASCAR official, have been aware of Christianity. They have had some recognition of Christianity in their life. They feel like this has helped from the beginning and its grown and grown. It’s continued to help people. Everybody supports it because the one thing we have in common is the love of Jesus Christ.

This is a just a small portion of a longer interview conducted with Bobby Allison for an upcoming Judson Press book called Faith in the Fast Lane set to release in January of 2014. This book chronicles NASCAR’s rich faith story and include additional commentary from legendary drivers such as Richard Petty, Ned Jarrett, Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte, Darrell Waltrip and Phil Parsons.

Kevin Streelman wins first PGA Tour event in Tampa

posted by Chad Bonham

Kevin Streelman (Photo by Chad Bonham)

Kevin Streelman has been plugging away for the past 12 years on various golf circuits including the last five on the PGA Tour. So when he was in contention to win the Tampa Bay Championship this past weekend, Streelman relied on the same steady patience that allowed him to make it this far in the first place.

In his 153rd career start, Streelman finished 10-under par on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook to claim his first PGA Tour victory.

Golf has been one of Streelman’s passions since he was introduced to the game by his parents while growing up in the Chicago area.

Streelman was recently featured in the book Life in the Fairway and part of that interview was highlighted by Inspiring Athletes.

“When you are a believer (in Christ), when you have your priorities in life lined up, situations in life come up and you first look to Him,” Streelman said. “The answers to your questions are quickly answered. Who can set a better example than a perfect, living God.”

Check out the entire Inspiring Athletes interview with Kevin Streelman by clicking below:

A conversation with Kevin Streelman

Read more from Streelman along with Webb Simpson, Stewart Cink, Ben Crane, Jonathan Byrd and several other PGA golfers on the subject of integrity in Chad Bonham’s brand new book Life in the Fairway. Others featured include Aaron Baddeley, Justin Leonard, Bernhard Langer, D.J. Brigman and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright who wrote the foreword.

Sam Hornish Jr. wins Nationwide race in Las Vegas, maintains points lead

posted by Chad Bonham

Sam Hornish Jr. (Photo by John Harrelson/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Sam Hornish Jr., didn’t realize until the morning of the race that the Nationwide Series race in Las Vegas was called the Sam’s Town 300. Although Hornish isn’t a gambling man, it turns out that betting on him to win a race with a sponsor that bears his name would have been a lucrative choice. His Penske Racing Ford Mustang led 114 of the 200 laps and pulled away from Kyle Busch for his second NASCAR victory.

Hornish Jr., entered the third race of the season in a tie with Justin Allgaier for the points lead and finished with a 19-point lead over Allgaier, Elliot Sadler and Brian Scott.

Inspiring Athletes spoke to Hornish Jr., earlier in the week and we’ll be sharing that full interview later during the season.

In the meantime, click the link below to read a previous interview with the former Indy Car champion in which he talked about his family’s racing obsession, the importance of maintaining his Christian witness and why he won’t be gracing a church pulpit anytime soon.

“This is kind of my own way to minister to people,” Hornish Jr., said. “It’s not necessarily about being the guy that’s up there sharing from a pulpit. But I’ve been able to profess my faith and maybe reach more people than if I had been a pastor.”

A conversation with Sam Hornish Jr.

A conversation with Carolina Hurricanes goalie Dan Ellis

posted by Chad Bonham

Dan Ellis of the Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Dan Ellis knows a little some about faith. He’s had to rely strongly on his faith in God during an up and down NHL career that has included playing for five different teams, enduring two lockouts and sustaining an unfortunately timed injury. In this Inspiring Athletes interview, Ellis talks about his definition of faith, how it’s sustained him through his professional and personal struggles, and his encouragements to other players and coaches:

Chad Bonham: How would you define “Faith?”

Dan Ellis: Faith to me is having absolute certainty that God is in control of my life and that He has my best interests at heart. There may be times in my life where a situation looks bleak or doesn’t make sense, but having faith in God allows me to know that He will take me through that situation and make me better off than I was before. Having faith in God means trusting in Him even when everything inside of you wants to take control. Loosening control of your life into Gods hands brings an overwhelming sense of peace and confidence.

Bonham: How have you learned this biblical principle?

Ellis: Life experiences have taught me the most about faith. Many times in my life when things were not going as I had planned, I would try to take control and fix it. The harder I tried to fix things the harder the situation or the stress from the situation became. As I learned to trust that God had the best solution, my life became much more peaceful and I was able to get through problems much quicker. God never puts something in our path where He has not already equipped us to handle.

Bonham: What Bible verse has helped you have more faith?

Ellis: In 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul talks about how we walk by faith, not by sight. Faith comes before you see any results. It’s when we take the leap of faith that God places the next step under our feet, often propelling us to heights which we could never have imagined.

Bonham: What have you learned about faith through the life of Jesus Christ?

Ellis: You see His faith on the cross, where Jesus took all of our shame and sin simply because His Father said so. Jesus put his life on the line because He trusted that His Father had a greater plan.

Bonham: How has that principle applied to your life as a professional athlete?

Ellis: I was in a contract year last season. You want to have your best season so that you can get a new contract and stay in the league. At the beginning of the season my playing time dipped more than any point in my career and right as opportunity was knocking at the door I sustained grade-three groin tear. Knowing that my opportunity to earn a contract has faded, my trust and faith were completely in His hands. Even when things like that happen, I know without a shadow of a doubt that God has a better plan. That He will take care of me and I will be better off than I ever could have imagined.

Bonham: How does faith impact other areas of your life?

Ellis: Being a family man with two small children, I take that same faith into family matters. Whether it is dealing with a sick child, dealing with our finances or dealing with my marriage, God works through all things for the good of those who are called in Christ. No task is too big or too small for God. He cares for us. He wants the best for us. More importantly He just wants us to include Him in our lives by trusting in Him. He has a great plan for each of our lives. We just have to have the faith to see it through.

Bonham: What is your encouragement to other athletes and coaches?

Ellis: Things don’t always happen the way we planned. As we learn to trust in God’s plan, we will see that He has our best interests at heart. His wisdom is much greater than man’s wisdom. Things that don’t make sense don’t need to because God the Father has a plan for us. As we put our faith in Him will see that plan through and be better off than we ever could have imagined.

Dan Ellis is one of several current and former NHL players to be featured in a new FCA Hockey New Testament. Learn more about this resource by visiting the organization’s official website HERE.

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