Aside from his mouth, Waltrip never had much in the way of vices. He was simply so occupied with racing he had no time for anything else. Then, on a hot August night when there was no race, he agreed to go to a Wednesday church service with Stevie. Waltrip remembers being more of a spectator than a participant. He began each prayer with, "Lord, this is D.W., in car No. 17."

"I figured the only way He knew me was by my car number," Waltrip said.

Then 36, Waltrip had reached a point in his racing career where he could appreciate the success he had, but his struggles that summer had caused him to look at what his life might be like without trophies and regular trips to Victory Lane. "Every once in a while, you realize you're not invincible," Waltrip said.

He continued to go to the Wednesday night services. At the racetrack each weekend, he and Stevie would meet with Lake and Lisa Speed, another NASCAR driver and his wife, for Bible study. Bobby and Kim Hillin, another couple, joined them. The meetings grew into a ministry called Racers for Christ, which would develop into Motor Racing Outreach in 1988.

The couples were soon joined by Max Helton, a minister, who wanted them to form a ministry that would have a regular presence in racing. Helton infused the project with the energy--something none of the three couples could provide because they had a race to worry about almost every weekend. "At first," Waltrip said, "we thought, 'Uh, oh, this guy must be some kind of a nut. Why in the world would anyone want to do something like this? We were a little skeptical."

By this time, Stevie Waltrip, a devout woman, had already been taping a Scripture verse to the dashboard of her husband's car before each race. When MRO was not only accepted in the garages but began to grow, Waltrip too it as a further sign that keeping his faith was well worth the effort, whethe he was winning races or not. "A lot of people make a deal with the Lord," Waltrip said, "but being a Christian is probably just about the hardest thing you can do. A lot of people sit on the fence."

Some stay there, some fall the other way, and Waltrip said that is the way it goes. He analyzes races for a living, but he does not want to be judgmental of others. All he knows is that when he discovered a baseline other than a speedometer, his life changed. "My favorite saying is, 'You can't have a testimony without a test,'" Waltrip says.


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