Welcome to the beginning, the beginning of a new set of numbers on the calendar that tell us the slate is wiped clean, a time to begin again. It is common to look at the calendar for guidance to the timing of things but in reality each day brings us the chance to begin again. As we look ahead with hope and anticipation let us not forget where we have been and what we have accomplished. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The anticipation of a new season has many faces; some good, some bad. For the most part a chance to begin again, wipe the slate clean and start over is welcomed. We forget our past shortcomings and failures. We count the lessons learned and commit them to memory. We make resolutions to travel down a different path, embrace new habits, and embark on new journeys. The positive energy that comes with renewal is great and can be a significant motivator. I encourage you to plug into it and let it help sustain you as you guide your life to new adventures.

Racing falls into the category of a calendar year sport, it starts and finishes in the same calendar year. That makes it easy to keep track of things. How many years have you been racing? Easy just subtract the year you started from the current year and you have the answer. I was thinking of that as I sat down to write this column. I’ve been at this for almost 15 years. Back in 2004 when Brother Pat’s health was failing he asked me to help him with the column. I agreed but the truth be told I was very intimidated. Funny how a white sheet of paper can be so powerful. I remember his help with those first few as I would write something, send it to him and he would use it to make something readable. In time he released me and let me run on my own. What a tremendous gift he gave me.

I think as we reflect on where we come from there might be someone in your past like Pat. Someone who took you alongside guided you through your first few efforts and then let you run on your own. What a gift we have received. We have had the benefit of someone’s life lessons learned given to us and allowed us to move forward. When we reflect, remember those who came before and paved the way. Those who were willing to help us learn the ropes. Those who fought the battles so we could win the war.

I wonder if we fully understand the blessing of having someone show us the way, a teacher. I see them back there watching the things we do with the information they gave us, wanting to see us succeed and prosper. They remain available to guide and counsel, all the time looking out for our wellbeing. The hardest part for them is watching as we make mistakes, knowing they cannot save us from them. They understand the challenges and hurdles we must overcome on our own. But yet they are there, watching waiting, ready to pick us up, dust us off, or maybe give us the kick in the shorts we need to keep going. They want nothing more than to celebrate our success with us. They want nothing more than to see things continue for another season.

This last year has been particularly hard as many of those types of people have left us. People who taught us the ropes, people who encouraged us to keep going, people who had our back and covered our butts. I am truly thankful for them and hope you would be also. Give some thought to who those special people are in your life. Surprise them once in a while by turning around and thanking them. Oh they are there watching and if you look quick enough you’ll see them.

We lost a good friend this past week, one who fit into that category. You know you are in that category when people seek you out and want to be with you. At the track he was intimidating, rough looking and menacing. Inside he had a heart of gold. Larry “Grub” Solbo was more than a member of the racing community, he was a big part of its heart. He wasn’t an angel and had his share of experiences with violating the rules but he genuinely cared for people. He wanted the best for you. He was one you were glad to see after you realized the exterior appearance was covering the biggest heart. He had your back.

We were privileged to know the other side of Grub, he spent many times talking with us chaplains about this and that, personal stuff. He always sought us out and wanted to know how we were doing. He would ask if anyone needed “taking care of”, you know the way a guy who looks like Grub would “take care” of things. We would say no, we’re good. He teased me about my “scooter” telling me I needed to step up my game if I wanted to ride with him. We built a close relationship with Grub, as we do with many in the racing community, and we were there for him in his time of need. As he faced his diagnosis and the finality of life he sought out the Lord and we were there to make introductions. I am confident in knowing we will meet again. Grub’s name was written in the book of Life.

John 3:16-17; NLT, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

Hebrews 9:27; NLT, And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,  so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people.

When we face the reality of life, it ends, we need to remember there is a loving God who wants us to be with Him. He desires that so much that he provided a way to overcome the obstacles, sin, that separates us. He provided a sacrifice in Jesus that covers us. We were able to reach out to Grub and help him know the grace that God offers. We were available and ready to pray with him as he accepted the gift of salvation. There is no greater gift that we can receive.

Remember the times we had, let that inspire us to move ahead. Remember the road other’s walked for our benefit and let that motivate us. Remember God and his gift of grace, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and let that save us.

Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.