For a few wonderful months while I was in seminary, I had the great privilege and joy of having Grady Nutt as my Sunday School teacher. Words just can’t describe how much we laughed, and learned.
One Sunday, as he was finishing up he became very serious. He looked at us and said something that I so needed to hear, and something I have never forgotten. He simply said, “I have never met a mature person who was ashamed of where they came from.”
Saturday night, I took the time to go “back to where I came from.” Oh, I didn’t go home to Cherryville, NC. I went to Darlington!
You need to understand. I was a NASCAR fan before being a NASCAR fan was cool. It was hereditary. My father and uncles would make pilgrimages to Charlotte and Darlington and Daytona and the stories of those trips have become family legend. I remember the first time I went to the infield of the World 600 in Charlotte, sitting on towers that would never be deemed safe by OSHA or my mother or any sane person!
I met the King as a young boy (and if you don’t know who that is you will not understand anything that follows!!!) and thought I might as well die then! Could anything better EVER happen??? I can talk to you about Fred Lorenzen, Fireball Roberts, Tiny Lund, Junior Johnson, and about Cale Yarborough and his infamous 1979 fight with the Allison brothers at Daytona—a race The King won I might add!. I learned early in life that you were either a Ford man or a Chevy man or a Chrysler man and you didn’t change! (I still can’t buy a Ford, although I recently rented a Taurus and it was incredible!!!)
A few years ago Richard Nunan, made me an offer. We would go to the Saturday night race at Darlington and he would drive home so I could be ready to preach on Sunday. (That is a Sunday in which I PREACH REAL LOUD!) It has become a tradition.
You have to understand that Richard is the last person in the world that you would suspect of being a race fan. He teaches philosophy at the College of Charleston, is prone to wear a T-shirt to the race that says “This is what a Feminist looks like” and brings wonderful vegetarian pizza to eat. Last night we had a wonderful conversation about time travel and the philosophical implications. He is teaching an honors course next fall that you really should take—even though you can’t! Richard grew up near Hueytown Alabama, a point of contention that I have gotten over! (How could you pull for the Allisons???) He is a Mark Martin fan and dreams of living long enough to see him win again.
Sorry Richard! You’ve been outed!)
I am a Baptist minister who serves a church on Daniel Island, drives a Volvo and loves going to the ballet. I have a degree from Wake Forest, Southern Seminary, and Emory, and have been accused of being rather liberal in my politics and theology. Not the kind of people that you would expect to be sitting in the Pearson Tower at the Track too Tough to Tame on a Saturday night listening to country music, Republican senators and the roar of engines!
We’ll be there again next year.
Sometimes you have to dip your toes in the waters that birthed you.
Sometimes you have to remember not to be ashamed of where you came from.