Idol Chatter

Once upon a time, the Indianapolis 500 was as American as, well, as NASCAR and Bible Belt Christianity. This weekend’s 500 is as loud, fast, and potentially lethal as any stock-car event, but the open-wheel racers of the Indy Racing League circuit are an elite, relatively cosmopolitan set–equestrians to NASCAR’s rodeo cowpokes—and the top qualifiers include a Brazilian Catholic, and a Brit about whose denomination this week’s Christian Science Monitor’s story on faith at the 500 is suspiciously silent.

But the Monitor makes clear that NASCAR doesn’t hold a monopoly on monotheism. Though pit-side prayer meetings are not common, the circuit does have an official chaplain who arranges for services for the racers in their venues around the world. And where three dozen cars go into a turn at 180 m.p.h., there are guaranteed to be few aetheists. “I find myself really leaning hard on my relationship with God,” one competitor tells the Monitor. Sam Hornish, who holds the pole position for Sunday’s race, says that as a child he considered becoming a minister.

For parents who strive to get to church on time each week, however, the best insight into Hornish’s calling comes when he also notes that his family attended a church 30 miles away from their home. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how race-car drivers are made.

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