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DARRELL WALTRIP One-On-One
By DARRELL WALTRIP JAY CARTY
RegalCopyright © 2004 Darrell Waltrip and Jay Carty
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDAY 1
Worth the Wreck?
It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools will not turn from evil to attain them. Proverbs 13:19
We were in the final lap of the Winston All-Star Race at the Charlotte Speedway. The year was 1995. I had drafted off of Jeff Gordon and went high on the track to try to pass. I looked to my left and saw Dale Earnhardt drop in on the low side. We were going into the third turn three wide-Jeff, Dale and me. That's fine if you're at Talladega. That track is wide enough. But it's not so fine at Charlotte. It's narrower there. Of the three of us, whoever didn't wreck would win the race.
You need to know that Dale and I were what I call "frienemies." Off the track, we were friends. Our motor coaches were parked next to each other's. But on the track, I would rather wreck than let him win. He felt exactly the same way about me. Who would lift (his foot off the gas pedal)? That was the question. I knew that Dale wouldn't. He knew that I wouldn't. Jeff knew that neither of us would, so he lifted, assuming Dale and I would crash each other.
My eyes met Dale's eyes for a split second. Volumes were communicated in that moment without saying a word.
Are you gonna lift?
No way! Are you?
So we did. Dale's front left tire bit into the apron as he drifted too low. When the chassis's weight transferred, his vehicle shot up the track. Jeff had pulled out just in time. Dale's car crashed into mine and took us both into the wall. As crazy as it sounds, even though we were doing over 180 miles an hour, we chose to wreck. I broke three ribs, and Jeff Gordon went low, got through and won the race. Dale and I were so set against each other that we lost sight of the bigger picture and the consequences of our actions. -DW
There once was a big pig on a farm in Oregon that was a lot like DW and Dale. This pig was standing at a gate, but the opening was narrower than the hog was wide and the posts on each side were charged with electricity. The porker had been through this gate before and knew the electrifying consequences, so it stood and pondered the options.
The consideration was how long to delay the pain, not whether to inflict it. The mud on the other side was just too desirable. Finally, the curly-tailed oinker began to squeal. The sound rose to a feverish pitch as the pig imitated a dragster at the line revving its engine as the starting lights begin their descent from red to green. The animal tensed, dashed, got zapped and didn't stop squealing until it jumped in the mud.
We are a lot like this pig. We decide to sin and start hollering about the consequences even before we do it. We show remorse over the backlash of adultery on our spouse and children before having an affair, and then we do it anyway. We overspend, knowing full well the cost after the purchase will be greater than the actual price paid. We gossip, knowing the repercussions of our words will last longer than the feeling of being a big shot. It's the same with an addiction, whether it involves nicotine, alcohol, drugs, pornography or food. We lament the consequences, scream and dash through the gate not realizing that, unlike the pig, the zapping can last for the rest of our lives.
Just like the pig thought the mud bath was worth the pain, DW and Dale thought keeping the other guy from winning would be worth the wreck. However, DW lost more than a race. His broken ribs took him out of the point standings that year and started a downward spiral that would become the most difficult period of his life.
In the spiritual realm, sin only takes a moment, but it starts a downward spiral of consequences that last forever. What seems a good idea at the time pales in the light of eternity. Sin is not worth it. Don't get zapped. Don't wreck. Finish the race. -JC
Holy caring and forgiving Shepherd, I don't want to dishonor Your name. I don't want to wreck again. Please heal me from the times I crashed in the past. Give me the courage to stay out of the mud. And forgive me for the times I got in. Thank You. Today's reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12; John 3:16-21; Ecclesiastes 7:29; 2 Peter 2:22; Proverbs 13:19
Chapter TwoDAY 2
From Frienemies to Friends
And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30
I kept my car at Dale Earnhardt's father-in-law's place, and I knew Dale from day one. When he was in his early 20s, he was a chip off the old block. A rough rednecked kid, he drove dirt tracks just like his dad had done. Looking at him, no one would have guessed that he would have the kind of success he eventually had.
He was three years younger than I was; and even though we started out as friends, it did not stay that way. As time went by, a lot of tension grew between us. I was envious of Richard Petty when I started racing because he was the king of the hill and had what I wanted. In the 1980s, Dale was jealous of me because I had what he wanted. He raced me harder than anyone else; he even wrecked me a couple of times. I always tried to get him back. Sometimes we were friends. Sometimes we were enemies. We were frienemies.
In 1986, at Richmond, Dale wrecked me and almost killed me. He slammed my car through the fence. When we wrecked at Charlotte in 1995, I broke my ribs and my run ended.
For many years I owned my own race team. In 1998, I sold it but was obligated to drive for the new owner. Dale called and wanted me to drive for his team instead. He had spent millions on a new facility, but he had eight wrecked race cars and a driver who was hospitalized. Plus, Pennzoil, his sponsor, was very concerned. This was an opportunity to heal my relationship with Dale, race in a good car, be on a good team and not have the pressure of being an owner-but I already had a commitment. The next day, out of nowhere, the new owner called and released me from that commitment. The next day! In my mind, it was a real God thing.
I was glad to help Dale and he was glad to help me. God used us to help each other. Pennzoil continued as his sponsor and I got to keep racing. Dale and I worked through our stuff, and we moved from being frienemies to being friends again. -DW
Sin makes us frienemies with God. It took a dramatic act to bridge the gap so that we can be friends with Him. In fact, it was our sin that sent Christ to the cross. Our basic nature is another frienemy. It too is dangerous, because our willingness to continue in sin wrecks our fellowship with God.
Ananias and Sapphira are examples of what can happen when we are freinemies with God. Their hearts weren't pure, and they were dangerous. They were trying to use the church for their benefit. They didn't care if anybody else wrecked, and they didn't care about God.
A and S were at the Pearl Direct level with ShackWayLife and enjoyed being in a big church because of all the contacts. Peter's church was booming.
The couple sold a piece of property, brought part of the money and gave it to the elders. They said they had given the total proceeds, when actually they had only given a portion. God didn't care if they gave all or part. What He did care about was their act of lying and why they lied. God told Peter, and Pete sent for Ananias.
Ananias was pleased when he walked in. All the elders were there, along with Peter. I'm finally in the inner circle, he surely thought. Then Ananias's attention turned to Matthew. I'll bet he's about ready to attend a ShackWayLife meeting. With his contacts, he could become a Direct in no time. Sapphira and I will be at Emerald Direct before we know it.
Then Peter told him what he'd done, and before Ananias could start smooth talking, God dropped him like a rock. When Sapphira came in, He did the same thing to her. They would never make Diamond Direct.
Word of the two deaths traveled fast on the prayer chain. Everyone realized just how serious God was about their having pure hearts, and they concluded that it was dumb to try and snow Him. Not even becoming a Triple Diamond in ShackWayLife was worth the risk.
We have to confess and repent in order to stop being frienemies with God. We must come clean with our sin and stop doing it. Our heavenly Father wants us to have pure hearts so that we can go from being His frienemies to being His friends. -JC
Heavenly Father, I confess my sin. Forgive me. I repent. My desire is to turn from sin to You. Show me the hidden stuff that I might confess and repent of it, too. Thank You. Amen. Today's reading: Acts 5:1-11: Colossians 3:1-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
Chapter ThreeDAY 3
Duct Tape and the Word
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10, NKJV
Before each race, my wife, Stevie, would pray and ask God for the right Scripture for me for that day. She would then write it on a note card or a hunk of duct tape and give it to me as I got in the car. At some point she started giving a verse to Dale Earnhardt, too. Stevie tells the story.
One day I was out on pit road with a roll of gray duct tape, and I was writing on it. This was right before the race started. Dale walked by. We were just acquaintances, even though we'd been around the same racetracks for years. He stopped and asked me what I was doing. I told him and he said, "Where's mine?" It was his way.
From that day on, Dale didn't want to race until he had his Scripture. When DW and Dale were both racing, Dale would take both verses I had written out, pick the one he wanted and give the other one to Darrell. He would always look at me and say, "I got the best one, didn't I?" That was his way.
I signed each verse with "I love you." When I wasn't there, Darrell would give the verse to Dale. Sometimes Darrell would sign it "I love you, Stevie." Sometimes he signed it "I love you, Darrell." If it didn't say, "I love you," Dale made Darrell add the words.
On the day Dale died, I had prayed intently about the verse I should give him. I was late getting to pit road with Dale 's Scripture. Dale was nervously looking for me, but smiled warmly when I arrived. He read the verse, thanked me, stuck it on his dash and drove off.
Dale always raced for himself, but not that day. Dale backed off and blocked for the two front-runners, his racing teammates, Michael Waltrip and his son, Dale, Jr. That's what he was doing on the last half of the last lap when he bit the wall the last time-head-on at almost 180 miles an hour-with his verse on his dash.
I had seen enough changes in Dale over the years that I'm convinced God gave me his last Scripture so that I, and everyone else who cared about him, might be comforted as to the condition of his soul. This Scripture must have applied to Dale's life. Why else would God have given it to me on that day? The Scripture I gave him was "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." -DW
The word "safe" in Hebrew means "inaccessibly high, secure and out of danger." A safe place was far enough within the outer walls and was high enough to be secure even from arrows. A strong tower was safe.
The word "righteous" doesn't mean "good." It means "forgiven."
"The Lord" means "Jesus Christ." So, when the righteous run into the strong tower, the verse actually means "the forgiven are already in a strong tower." Christ is the place where the forgiven are secure.
Salvation is the ultimate strong tower. It is what the Old Testament refers to in "My God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold, my high tower, my savior."
Stevie Waltrip believes Dale Earnhardt's reliance on Scripture went from initially being a lucky charm or rabbit's foot, to a dependence on the Strong Tower into which he drove. Stevie told me, "Dale was drawn to the Scripture, he reverenced it, and he blocked out everything else while he read it." Other verses she had given him had covered the role of Jesus Christ as Savior. He had dwelled on them as well.
Dale knew God's plan. Stevie Waltrip had made sure of that. She believes the final verse was given by God to comfort Dale's loved ones and her. Stevie believes Dale Earnhardt entered into his Strong Tower on February 18, 2001, when the number 3 car hit the wall at Daytona.
Are you ready to enter your Strong Tower? -JC
Holy God, I acknowledge Your name as my Strong Tower. Thank You for the assurance of my salvation. Amen. Today's reading: Proverbs 18:10; 2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 61:3
Chapter FourDAY 4
Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. Acts 8:2, NIV
You never expect anyone to get killed. Every Sunday in a race somebody could crash and die, but you just don't anticipate it. Dale Earnhardt had been in a million wrecks. He had hit the wall and he had turned over. He was like Superman. He was Earnhardt. He always got up and raced again. He was too tough to get killed at a racetrack. He might kill a race car, but there was no race car that would kill him.
For me, Dale's death was so huge because I was there, but I wasn't in the race. It was the first time we hadn't been on the racetrack together. He was in a car; I was in a broadcast booth. So, it was different.
This was my brother Michael's first race for the Earnhardt team. He hadn't won a Winston Cup race yet. But on the last lap, Michael was going to win the Daytona 500, Dale, Jr. was going to run second, Dale, Sr. was going to finish third. Dale, Sr.
Excerpted from DARRELL WALTRIP One-On-One by DARRELL WALTRIP JAY CARTY Copyright © 2004 by Darrell Waltrip and Jay Carty. Excerpted by permission.
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