by Rev. Don Rivers
Believe it or not it has been four years since the passing of our brother
and friend Rev. Pat Evans. I mention this because he laid the ground work
for the step Racing with Jesus Ministries took this week. Pat worked hard to
honor God and build this ministry. This week the fruits of that labor have
started to be harvested. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Rev. Pat's vision for this ministry was that we would broaden our
support base enough to allow us to concentrate on God's work. That day has
come for Racing with Jesus Ministries . It is with great joy that I announce
Racing with Jesus Ministries has added their first paid staff person. I have
accepted the position of Pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in West
Springfield, MA. The Church has agreed to share me with RWJM. Also, the
Board of Directors here at RWJM have agreed to contribute to my financial
support. With both combined it was time to step out on faith and give my
notice at my day job. After a short time of transition I will be dedicating
my efforts to the Lord’s work. It will also allow me to more fully support
my wife’s efforts as she runs our coffee shop, The Daily Grind Café. God’s
plan has come together and I am excited about what tomorrow holds.
It is appropriate to remember Pat and the things he taught us. With
that in mind I wanted to share some of the column his long time friend and
companion, Dick Wibblesman wrote to honor Pat.
It was during the mid ‘70s that Pat developed a yearning for
a closer relationship with the Lord. Once he was born again, he started to
feel there must be a way to combine his two loves, for the Lord and for auto
racing. He started talking with certain drivers and other personnel in the
pits at various tracks, and with his gift of gab, talked his way into saying
a “little” message at the driver’s meetings. Finally he formed Racing With
Jesus Ministries in 1978. In 1979, at the urging of a good friend—Val
LaSieur, who published Speedway Scene—Pat started a racing column in the
paper. At first it was a brief message about the Lord followed by lots of
racing news and his opinions. It was the latter that caught the attention of
drivers, whose side he seemed to be on, and track officials/owners who were
often on the receiving end of pointed comments about how the race should be
run, or the track operated. But, he did get the reputation for being fair,
honest and discreet—three traits that helped him become the reporter people
read and believed for the truth. That allowed him to expand his Bible
teaching in the column and touch more people. Nonetheless, Pat was many
times the voice in the wilderness, ignored by many, listened to by few as he
declared “prepare ye the way for the Lord”.
I first met Pat at one of those times. He was at the Speedway
Scene-sponsored 1980 Racearama sitting in a little 4x4 booth with a card
table, two folding chairs, a Bible and no audience. My wife must have spent
two to three hours talking to him to keep him company and to discuss her
recent Born Again experience. Me? I was there for the cars.
However, they must have had some prayer influence because I
accepted the Lord one month later and thus started the 25 year long,
wonderful relationship with Pat and his new ministry. Soon I was on the road
almost every weekend with him—many of you probably know me only as the tall
chubby fellow who was either standing in the background as Pat held court,
or schlepping some podium, chair, book stand etc., or taking a collection at
service. All vital jobs that needed doing—well maybe not the standing part.
My first eye-opening taste of what it took for Pat to do his job
was a mid-July trip to Oxford Plains for the ’80 Plains 250. There we were,
driving up in an unairconditioned Chevette with my feet out the passenger
window, screaming along at 75-80 mph (remember this was the double nickel
era) hoping we got there before the engine breathed its last. It was not the
last learning experience.
Most people have no idea what it took Pat to pull off this
ministry. First there was the money side. Pat held a number of jobs during
the 1980’s, generally none longer than several months to a couple of years,
because his bosses either got tired of him always needing time off to pursue
his ministry obligations at a track anywhere from northern Maine down to
southern Virginia, or because they didn’t see eye-to-eye with him being so
upfront with his love for the Lord. This also meant that he never had a job
where his income could support both his day-to-day expenses and the extra
cost of the ministry—travel, motels, meals, etc. It was and remains today
the biggest concern. Second was the time investment. Not only was Pat doing
all his ministry work at the track, and holding down a job, he also had the
column to write and the many instances of counseling to cover. It seemed as
if Pat were squeezing 27 hours into each day.
All those extra calls on his time were what made his efforts
worthwhile. Pat was never happier than when he was asked to preside over a
wedding or a christening, or was able to call me up and say another person
had come to the Lord. THAT is what he felt called to do. Each year, at year
end he would, with great joy, tell us how many of each had happened during
Over the years, Pat came to be accepted by more and more people.
The turning point was probably the best and worst weekend of his life
however. In October 1985, at Martinsville , one of Pat’s closest friends in
racing, and one whom Pat had considered his biggest challenge regarding
acceptance of faith, Richie Evans lost his life during practice. Pat was
asked by track management to do a memorial service for Richie. Ultimately
they broadcast the service to all 15-20,000 in the stands at the time.
People heard him for the first time in many cases and realized that he was
doing this job—the Ministry—for a reason, and it wasn’t money. It was a love
of the Lord and the realization that these racers needed some divine
protection. It helped Pat through this loss that Richie had told him earlier
that week that he had found the Lord.
From this point on Pat earned new respect for who he was and what
he did. Attendance at services increased, more calls for ministering came
in, more weddings etc. A little more funding as well, but never enough.
In the early 90’s Pat changed the home of his column to Area Auto
Racing News, thanks to the kindness of Lenny Sammons, to whom we are
eternally grateful. He also started taking on additional people to help out
both in the office--thanks Scott and Lisa—and at the track, first with some
local representatives at places like Wall Stadium in NJ and Grandview in PA,
and then most recently with full ministers like Dan Petfield who joined up
in the late 90’s and Don Rivers a couple years ago.
The ministry will survive. But we will all miss our dear friend and
brother. I will miss times with him like the one in Virginia when he was
stopped for going 85-90 on the way back from Martinsville (again double
nickel days). The trooper looked at Pat, walked away for awhile, came back,
smiled and said in a very reverential tone “ Father, as a good catholic,
there’s no way I can give a man of the cloth a ticket for this, but for the
rest of the drive do you think you could try to keep it below 75?” We must
have laughed about that for 100 miles—but at the same time it kept us awake
at the end of a long weekend when we really needed it.
I will miss the many times we left for a track knowing that God had
something in mind for us. Like the time we drove all the way to the
Shangri-la track in NY, only to get rained out after arriving. On the way
back we stopped at Five-Mile point that was running, and after that show, we
finished up at Orange County . Pat had an anxiety attack while there and he
was taken to the hospital. We didn’t know it at the time but God was
preparing us. As we were getting ready to leave the Hospital, an ambulance
came in with a severely injured pit crewman from a track accident, followed
by his wife and two small children. Pat spent hours in the early morning
comforting that family that he didn’t know. To this day, I don’t know
whether that person survived or not—it was touch and go—but I do know that
God used His man to help the family through.
For twenty-five years Reverend Pat was there for “his” racers, pit
crews, track officials, and fans. In person and through his column, he tried
to bring people closer to the Lord and their salvation. Now the Lord has
called him home with a “good job, faithful servant”. The ministry will go
on, doing God’s work as instructed, But, we will miss tremendously our
friend, our brother, and, at times, our support - Patrick T.J. Evans.
Rest in Peace, my friend, Dick Wibbelsman
The ministry that Pat started has not only continued, but grown.
The things most precious to Pat remain the focus of what we do. I think Pat
is jumping for joy as he sees the rest of the story unfold before his eyes.
God is faithful to those who love Him.
Thanks for walking down memory lane with me, I feel honored to have
known Pat and share with him the level of commitment he had for this
ministry. We have reached another milestone in our journey. Let the record
show that Pat’s vision is being fulfilled.
THOUGHTS FROM THE ROAD
I did do some road work this week. The schedule called for Thompson
on Thursday, Stafford on Friday and Watkins Glen on Saturday. The weather
put a snag in Friday’s plans but it allowed me a few hours of shuteye before
heading out to the Glen.
Thursday saw Danny Cates win his first Modified Feature and he did
so with patience. As the leaders swapped paint and eventually exchanged
visits with the wall, Danny sat in position to benefit. He did and drove
home to his first victory. I am sure there are many more to come from this
We did have an issue in the Mini-Stock feature. Rick Blanchard
injured his wrist in a lap one accident. He was transported to the hospital
and will need to see a specialist for repairs. As I spoke with Rick he
shared with me that he wished he was a little more patient and waited a
little longer before he made his move.
I have said it before and will say it again, you can’t win on the
first lap, but you sure can lose. Being patient can pay tremendous
dividends. Keep Rick in your thoughts and prayers as he heals up. Thanks to
all who helped get his car secured and transported back to his garage.
I headed out to New York early Saturday morning. Early enough to
meet the bar crowd coming home. The trip went well enough but New York sure
is big! At Watkins I met up with some old friends, Al Robinson and Lee Roy.
Lee has been more successful at losing a few extra pounds than Al or I, so
much so I didn’t even recognize him. Al had the quote of the week though,
“If there is a famine, him and I are in the last group standin.” Lee was
helping out Marsh Racing as an extra spotter for the race. Al was the voice
of Watkins Glen. Oh yeah there was one other old friend I met in Victory
Lane, Martin Truex Sr. He was there to celebrate the first victory of son
Ryan who made a daring last lap, second to the last turn pass of road racing
ace Carl Long to post his first victory in the series. Ryan made it three
members of the same family to win in the series as his father and older
brother Martin Jr. have also won races. Ryan’s first call from Victory Lane
was to his brother!
We have a couple weeks off the road to catch up on some things
around the house. Take some time, rest up and visit your local track for
some live racing action. See you on the road, Rev. Don.
Be a witness for our
Lord with the ministry decals and apparel. See them at the Online Apparel
Store at www.RWJM.org.
Call us with your prayer and counseling needs and list all your prayer
needs, no matter what part of our racing family you are in, with the Racing
Family Prayer Request Page
www.rwjm.org/page/prayers.php also send your prayer request by mail.
Until next time, remember that God loves you, we love you and
Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing. GOD BLESS.
Mail reaches us at Racing with Jesus Ministries, PO Box 586,
Tolland, CT 06084. Check our weekly printed pages in "Area Auto Racing
News", the East Coast’s largest weekly racing paper" See our on-line Apparel
Store for subscription information. Check our home page
www.rwjm.org for past
articles. We invite you to input your thoughts as you sign our Guest Book.
Please remember, we can only do what we do because of your prayerful
Numbers 6:24-26 "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord
make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face
toward you and give you peace."
May God always Bless you, everyday in everyway. Rev. Don
MARCEL & LYNN L'ETOILE - This retired driver and proud parents of
Massachusetts ProStock driver Frank, share their 41st anniversary.
MARCEL & CHRIS DUSSEAULT - "Deuce" and his wife from Somersworth, NH are
former owners of the NASCAR CWES/GRAND NATIONAL Marc Motorsports team and
have their 44th anniversary.
SCOTT & JOAN NICKEL - This Thompson Speedway photographer and wife
share their 27th anniversary.
SAL & FRIEDA MAGLIO - These fans from Scranton, PA have their 36th
LENNIE & ELAINE STOCKWELL - Mom, dad and crew for the car driven by
their son Kip.
DICK & PHYLLIS WOLSTENHUME - This retired Beech Ridge Speedway
driving mutli-time champion and wife share their 49th anniversary.
AREA AUTO RACING NEWS - The East's leading weekly racing publication,
led by Publisher Lenny Sammons, celebrates its 44th anniversary.
DANA & LAURIE SAVARY - This Plymouth, MA Seekonk Speedway Street
Stock driver and wife celebrate 28 years together.
DEBBIE AND CHRIS McMURRAY - from Catskill NY are celebrating their 3rd
JOHN SNEAD - Oxford, MA former Modified driver.
STEVE DARNE - Woodbridge, VA LMSC driver.
NICOLE MICHILOWSKI - Daughter of Lebanon Valley driver Mark and wife
Robin is 18.
ASHLEY DUNAY - Daughter of Stafford SKMod crew member Joe.
THOMAS DUNAY - Son of Stafford SKMod crew member Joe.
KENNY TROYER - Rochester, NY asphalt Modified driver.
KRISTA HOWARD - Daughter of Waterford Speedbowl faithful Tom and wife
Carol is 19.
BRAD LEIGHTON - Center Harbor, NH NASCAR CWES driver.
LEE SHERWOOD - Waverly, NY NASCAR CWES/Modified driver.
SCOTT WOLF - From Freeport, NY a Riverhead Raceway driver.
MITCH POOLE - Lebanon Valley Modified driver.
PAT FEZZA - Riverhead Raceway Tech. Inspector.
DAVEY HAMILTON - Boise, Idaho SuperModified great, now IRL driver.
RON KEYS - Nottingham, PA Sprint/ Modified driver.
SHAUN BUFFINGTON - Plainfield, CT Modified driver.
DIRK STEPHENS - Tumwater, WA BGN/All Pro/CTS driver.
KEVIN RICHARDS - Spokane, WA NASCAR West driver.
IRENE GEHRIS - Grandview Speedway's VIP Registra and AARN Vickie's
ADRAI SCHAFFER - One of Grandview Mod driver Rick and wife Donna's
FRANK L'ETOILE, JR. - Son of Massachusetts ProStock driver Frank and
wife Betty is 17.
JACK MILLER - Dr. Jack, Carmel, IN IRL driver.
LEVI SCHULTZ - This Quakertown, PA 250cc Micro Srpint driver at
Borger's Speedway in Saylorsburg, PA.
JOEY CAVALLERO - This Wall Stadium fan and son of Tom and Sally and
also the nephew of Steve "Woody" Woods of the Evernham R&D Department and
wife Tammy, turns 9.
TODD HUMPHREYS - Elbridge, NY NASCAR CWES driver.
TREVOR NICKEL - This aspiring photographer is the son of Thompson
Speedway photographer Scott and wife Joan.
SCOTT PURSELL - Frenchtown, NJ dirt Modified driver.
DEREK LYNCH - Augusta, ME LM/NASCAR CWES driver.
VICTORY MIBELLI - Windsor, CA NASCAR West driver.
THOMAS SCHRAMM - Hulmesville, PA Legends driver.
BOB SNYDER - PA photographer.
NIKKI KITCHENS - Daughter of Birmingham, AL BGN driver, team owner
DAN POZZUTO - The VP of Operations for Ed Ferree's corporations based
in Saxonburg, PA and team member on Ed's winning Pennsylvania Motor Speedway
Big Block Late Model.
SHARE YOUR SPECIAL OCCASIONS WITH YOUR RACING FAMILY.
SEND THEM TO:
RACING WITH JESUS MINISTRIES
PO Box 586
Tolland, CT, 06084
TheChromeHorn RWJM Archives
Racing With Jesus Ministries Website
Don Rivers / Racing With Jesus Ministries