People of the cloth urged to join ‘Faster Pastor’ charity race |

People of the cloth urged to join ‘Faster Pastor’ charity race

Rhonda Costa-Landers, Appeal Staff Writer

On Sunday mornings, racing becomes a religion.

With the strong influence of Winston Cup, Busch and other NASCAR-sanctioned events throughout the country, many individuals forego Sunday morning church services to see some of Winston Cup’s finest race on asphalt.

Rooms become shrines to the men who drive the Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge and Pontiac-powered cars. Horsepower causes even the most in-control man and woman to salivate at the sound of a revving engine.

In Carson City, racing excitement turns to Saturday nights at Champion Motor Speedway. Young and older drivers alike take the the high-banked asphalt oval of the track to display their skills and prowess amid their peers.

This year, Champion Motor Speedway is offering all pastors of the community to try their hands at the wheel of a racecar in their first-ever “Faster Pastor” Charity Challenge. It may be the first race of its kind anywhere. The winner receives $1,000.

Presented at this month’s Carson City Ministerial Fellowship meeting, CMS General Manager Jeb Onweiler discussed his plan for having pastors and their congregation be more active in a family-oriented atmosphere.

“I want to bring in new race fans,” Onweiler said. “I want more families in the grandstands and I want them to feel like they’re in a safe environment. Champion Motor Speedway is an exciting, positive place to be on Saturday nights.”

Onweiler further described the various racing divisions scheduled to participate in this year’s program at the track. Many activities are being added to entice families, as well as entertain children when cars are not active on the track.

“We’ll have the family section right next to Earnhardt Memorial Park,” Onweiler said. The park is in honor of the late Dale Earnhardt, who was killed on the final lap of the 2001 Dayton 500.

“We’ll have a large jungle gym for the kids to climb on, econo-box racing, face painting, a Kid’s Klub and bicycle racing for all age groups.”

Pastors laughed and talked among themselves and looked at pictures Onweiler brought to better explain the different racing classes.

“I think I’d be more interested in the bicycle racing,” Church of Christ Rev. Bruce Henderson said with a laugh.

But Onweiler’s serious about the pastors being at the track. He wants to continue weekly invocations by area pastors. He would also like them to start being a presence in the pit area during racing activities.

“A pastor is a positive image,” Onweiler said to the group. “Tense situations sometimes happen in the pit area. By having you there, you may be able to diffuse those situations. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.

“Just by having you walk through the pits, I think drivers, their crews and officials would feel more at ease.”

One of the first to sign up for the Faster Pastor challenge was Rev. Lary Rothchild from Capital Baptist Church.

“I don’t know why I signed up,” Rothchild chuckled. “I think maybe I need psychiatric care.”

Rothchild said members of his congregation would probably go to see him race, just like some go to visit the zoo — to see if it’s real.

“It’ll be fun and a good experience,” Rothchild said. “I think I’ll get to be the senior citizen of the crowd. This will be a high water mark in racing. It should be fun for generations to come.”

Alan Dorway, associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church, said it sounds like a fun event and commends Onweiler in finding a new way to tap into the community.

“What a great way to be able to drive aggressively in a safe environment and one you’re supposed to drive fast in,” Dorway said.

“I work with a lot of youth and they can say, ‘Hey, my pastor is going to be in a race, let’s go watch.’ I’d love to race against Bruce (Kochsmeier, pastor at First Presbyterian Church). It could be an in-house rivalry. I’d love to see what happens on the track.”

The first Faster Pastor Charity Challenge is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 14. Competitors must be 18 years of age or older. Pastors or their associates interested in participating can call Onweiler at 884-3045.

What: Faster Pastor Challenge

When: June 14

Where: Champion Motor Speedway