Established 1973

Old Pic

Many names were involved in the journey, one of those first to see the evangelical potential was Pastor Dan Caldwell in 1973. Calvary Baptist church was located at the corner of Smith Avenue and Weaver St. When the sleepy little town of Darlington (8,000) was inundated with race fans (80,000), the roads were clogged with cars sitting in the September heat…Calvary Church would offer snacks and Kool-Aid and tracts to the hot and frustrated visitors right on the church grounds. Only Calvary and Fourth Street Baptist Church seemed to see the mission opportunity.

In 1974 a tent was erected, and the ministry moved to the track. The field was white but what could only two churches do?? Pastor Caldwell brought the vision to the 1975 Welsh Neck Baptist Association Annual Meeting with prayerful consideration for help. Though many felt the ‘rowdy race track’ was no place for good Christian folk, but they trusted Dan Caldwell. Pastor Caldwell was elected as Director of Witness. Training volunteers were led by Pastor Caldwell and Pastor Don Purvis of Lakeview Baptist Church.

the mission

Hebrews 12:1-2 …”Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which do the so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the same and in set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”…

While God was dealing with Pastor Caldwell, Ed Quattlebaum, was also feeling the call. He’d heard in 1974 about resort ministries. The races brought tourist to Darlington…so that was a type of resort crowd. Pastor Ed Quattlebaum, Director of Missions at WNBA felt that surely other associations had experience with a ministry like this. But after writing to all the associations with speedways in their area, not a single church had stepped out to reach the thousands of people coming to their backyards. In 1976 one tent on the Hwy 52 side, was rented from the Darlington Rescue Squad, Twelve or so churches sent volunteers, all churches pitched in through giving to the association to buy drinks, paper products, and snacks…. we were moving forward.

As a mission project of the Welsh Neck Baptist Association in 1975, the call went out to the two mission branches of the Baptist churches, the Women’s Mission Union and the Men’s Brotherhood.

By 1978 WNBA had a float in the Southern 500 parade seeking to give a spiritual message before the masses of spectators. Members moved about the crowd purposely looking for opportunities to share their faith. A tabloid style paper was produced with a history of the track, biographical tidbits about the drivers and racing, tying the BIG RACE to our individual search for God and abundant life. The tent was staffed around the clock. “It’s the highest single event in our state and it’s unthinkable that the Baptist would not be there with the Good News of Christ” Pastor Ed Quattlebaum.

1980's

The schedule of events went from one hour of gospel singing and sermon to two hours…. then the First Family Puppets and Clowns from FBC Darlington and Puppet Love came to appeal to the children (of all ages). In 1985 a Sunday morning worship service was added…Volunteers were available to talk with the visitors and pray with them when asked. The race moved from September to April then May, then in 2015, back to Labor Day weekend, the track added lights for night racing. Raceway Ministry adapted to meet the changes in seasons and days. In the early days, Baptist had led the charge to prevent racing on Sunday.

Part of the relationship building had to begin with the track administration.
Another evangelical effort was begun in 1987. Bring-A-Boy Race Rally was the suggestion of Tommy DeWitt, a layman who worked with boys, many without fathers in the home. A ticket to the race, the raceway museum, entertainment, and food was provided for one price. The price included enough to pay for printing and mailing the promotional materials. That year over 800 attended.

the authority

Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, and the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria and unto the utter most parts of the earth.”

1990's

During Labor Day weekend in 1990 more than 1,400 attended the rally. In 1990 DOM Rev. Ed Quatlebaum was asked to give the invocation at both the Rebel 500 in the spring and the Saturday race in September. By 1992 mothers and daughters were added, so Bring-A-Kid Race Rally welcomed adults and young people to the track. Gospel music and God’s word was presented before tickets were passed out. Testimonies from Miss Southern 500 and from several race drivers who had given their hearts to the Lord encouraged the fans and became a turning point in the attitude of the ‘race fan community.’ The event and the presence of the RACEWAY MINISTRY was making a difference and the track administration saw it.

Rev. Quatlebaum worked with Rev. Max Helton, the chaplain for the NASCAR drivers and crews, and president of the Motor Racing Outreach. He lead Bible studies with drivers, their families, and crews, weekly. A number of the drivers were making open commitments to Christ and seeking sponsors other than beer companies when their contracts ran out. Drivers need our prayers. While the Chaplain for NASCAR works inside with the drivers/crews/families, Raceway Ministries concentrates on reaching the fans.

physical witness

Matthew 25:35-40 “For I was hungry and ye gave me food, I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink, I was a stranger and ye took me in”.

bring-a-kid

The idea is for an adult to bring a young person to a day of fun with a Christian focus.

Campground contact

Three tents are set up that give, snacks and drinks provided by local churches to whoever stops by. The touch is to welcome visitors and show the love of Christ. No evangelism is allowed by the track, but we can pray with anyone who asks for it…and we often get to answer the question ‘Why do /how do you just give away stuff’.

breakfast

Is served to visitors at the main tent on Petty Blvd Saturday and Sunday mornings. Breakfast is free for those who come, and a speaker gives testimony. At each table, a ‘volunteer’ sits to engage the visitors in conversation.

race schedules

Are handed out to visitors going in and out of the track. The schedule has a plan of salvation on the back. An article in the May 1979 Pioneer Royal Ambassadors publication noted that Hattie Gardener with passing out tracks…and nobody would refuse a track from 78-year-old Southern Baptist Missionary who had spent 38 years in the African bush. Everyone wants a race schedule…

Shade tree/tents

Is an area set up for people to sit, cool off, and rest. Volunteers are at the tree/tent sites to engage visitors in conversation.

worship services

Held at 10:00 am on Sunday morning at the Main tent on Petty Blvd.

Mayor's camper

Will be in the campground and manned 24 hours for the 3-day weekend, to help and minister to those who have needs…. i.e. prayer/immediate contact with medical and law enforcement/ general information questions…

ADA Parking

In 2018 the track asked Darlington Raceway Ministries to man the ADA (Adults with Disabilities Act) golf carts. Jimmy Sanderson had been hoping for that opportunity for a long time. Our only concern was we needed about 60 volunteers to commit. The volunteers came…and the ADA CARTS rolled Saturday and Sunday…and into Monday morning…People with disabilities and their guests were moved to and fro and given a race schedule (with the plan of salvation).

2000's

Over the years the names change. Minutes from the June 2006 meeting noted that the new chairman of Race Way Ministries as Rev. Grover Johnson. And the volunteers got new shirts. In 20…… Jimmy Sanderson became the chairman, working with purpose to reach out to meet the needs of the track administration… Jimmy’s attitude was ‘What can Race Way Ministries do for you?” Under his leadership the vision of what the ministry could be seemed endless.
In 2013 Raceway Ministry minutes listed an organizational chart that noted Jimmy Sanderson-president, Rev. Daniel Henderson-entertainment, Tommy DeWitt-Bring-A-Kid, Rev. Randy Gulledge- tent 1, Daniel Brown-tent 2, Earl ….-tent 3, Rev. Mike Saunders-volunteers and supplies. Huge savings came when the track agreed to mail the brochures to the churches. In 2014 the track took on all the mailing and reservations for tickets. Another change has been that other Christian churches (Presbyterian, Seven Day Adventist, etc.) have joined the effort to share God’s love. By 2015 the Southern 500 Race was back on Labor Day Weekend, with the following opportunities for volunteers to minister to the race fans.
Close Menu
×
×

Cart