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June 26, 2014

A wheel and a prayer: Clarksville's Raceway Ministries to feature locally restored race car at NASCAR race

On display at the track this weekend when NASCAR comes to Sparta, Ky.

CLARKSVILLE — There will be a local connection to one of the race cars at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, but the mission behind the machine is centered on what happens off the track.

Kentucky Raceway Ministries, or KRM, has been involved in Christian evangelism at the Speedway since 2000. As a way to garner a little extra attention to the cause, a donated race car has been restored by local body shop Clarksville Collision Center, and it will be on display at the track this weekend when NASCAR comes to Sparta, Ky.

The decal on the car reads Philippians 4:13, which states “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The car once belonged to the Robert Yates Racing team, and was driven by No. 88, Dale Jarrett. Clarksville Collision Center fixed the major dents and then painted the car for KRM, and donated the services to boot.

Tom Ragland, owner of Clarksville Collision Center and a KRM board member, said the car will be showcased at the Speedway Kids Zone so people can have their pictures taken beside it.

Anybody can volunteer for KRM, as it really just takes a willingness to talk to people about the Bible and show kindness, Ragland said.

“It’s a very rewarding ministry,” he said.

The Sprint Cup Series’ Quaker State 400 will be the main event in Sparta on Saturday. It will be the third year the Kentucky Speedway has hosted the top NASCAR circuit.

KRM will again be at the track giving away Bibles and bottles of water. Last year, Ragland said the group handed out more than 10,000 bottles of water and 5,000 Bibles.

“We have had a really good response,” he said.

Maybe it’s because of its Southern, Bible Belt roots, but NASCAR has traditionally featured a close relationship with religion. Prayers are just as common as the national anthem before the green flag is dropped, and Ragland said his family and others associated with KRM have found race tracks are a fertile ground to spread their faith.

“We attend a lot of NASCAR races, so we normally go to a church service when we’re at the race track in different cities,” Ragland said. “We saw that when Kentucky Speedway got the Sprint Cup race, it was a great opportunity.”

KRM was formed in 1999 by J.T. Marsh and John Roberts, and held its first worship service at the Kentucky Speedway in 2000.  According to the organization’s website, go2krm.com, 35 fans attended the first service, but that number grew to 75 for the next edition.

“Basically it grew from the two of them until last year where we had 207 volunteers,” Ragland said.

KRM members minister at each of the five campgrounds at Kentucky Speedway.

More than 60 churches are involved in the ministry, including the Indiana campus of Southeast Christian Church, where Ragland attends.

Sharing their beliefs with others isn’t that difficult, Ragland said of the group, and it ends up being an enjoyable and sometimes life changing experience. The volunteers also provide needed services for race patrons, and they attend training sessions prior to race week to prepare for the event.

For more information about KRM, call 859-496-0106.

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U.S. Department of Justice Senior Litigation Counsel Brad Blackington, left, speaks about a grand jury indictment surrounding Clark County Sheriff Daniel Rodden and his alleged involvement with a prostitute during a press conference at the Lee H. Hamilton Federal Building in downtown New Albany on Tuesday afternoon.

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