NASCAR and Integrity


There’s a saying that says “you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy”.  I am living proof of the truth of that statement.  I have lived in medium sized cities in the upstate of South Carolina for all but 7 years of my life.  However, there is something that stirs deep inside me when I get out of the city and into the country.  Whether it is in the woods hunting, driving down a country road, or on a camping trip, there is something great about being in the country.  As part of my country upbringing, I was around race cars from an early age.  My uncle raced at small town dirt tracks on Friday and Saturday nights and we (my brother and I) thought we were cool when we could be part of his “pit crew” and push around tires that were bigger than us.  And once a year my grandpa would splurge and buy tickets to the Labor Day race at Darlington Speedway for his four sons and his only two grandsons (my brother and me).  So from an early age, NASCAR has been in my blood.  I follow it closely to this day.

As you might imagine, I was intrigued by the outcome and aftermath of the Richmond race a couple of weeks ago leading up to the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  If you missed it, you can read about the penalties that were levied against Michael Waltrip Racing to bring you up to speed.  The nutshell version is that Clint Bowyer (a MWR driver who was  all but locked into the chase) spun out intentionally in order to allow a teammate (Martin Truex Jr.) to secure one of the last spots in the Chase.  After an investigation, it appears that there was a spontaneous decision made by the team to manipulate the outcome of the race in order to get an additional MWR team into the Chase.  After being fined a large amount of money, Michael Waltrip admitted to the cheating, but held firm that it was a split second decision made in the heat of the battle.  NASCAR eventually disqualified Truex from the Chase and allowed the drivers that were adversely affected by the incident to take their rightful place in the 10 race playoff.

All of this got me thinking a LOT about integrity!  I have often heard that integrity is who you are when no one is looking.  I don’t know the persons who made the split second decision to cheat in the race at MWR and this is not an indictment on their character, because they may be fine, upstanding people.  However, I think it is surely an example of the appeal of our “win-at-all-costs” society.  The goal of making the Chase for this race team had become such a motivating factor that when an opportunity arose to further insure their success presented itself, there was not one person who acted upon the voice of fairness…the voice of integrity  when it mattered.  I wonder how many of us as Christians make decisions each and every day that are based, not on the integrity of our heart, but rather are swayed by the demands on our lives to perform at work, at home, or even in the church.  I know I have tendencies to lose focus and end up making the decision with the most favorable outcome and not always the RIGHT decision.  My prayer is that God will guide me to make the RIGHT decision even when it seems so easy to make a decision that leads to accomplishing things while hurting or cheating others.

Have  you ever had to make a choice in a similar situation?  How did you make the decision?  Was it easy?  Did you do the right thing?  Would love to hear about it.