By Thomas Chemris - Motorsport.com As mourners came to the Calvary Church to say goodbye to Dale Earnhardt, those in attendance and the millions who watched on television were comforted by the words of Chaplain Dale Beaver. Dale is the...
By Thomas Chemris - Motorsport.com
As mourners came to the Calvary Church to say goodbye to Dale Earnhardt, those in attendance and the millions who watched on television were comforted by the words of Chaplain Dale Beaver.
Dale is the Chaplain for the Winston Cup series, and is a part of Motor Racing Outreach. (MRO), a non-denominational fellowship that provides spiritual support, counseling, and so much more to racing communities in more than 22 divisions.
Founded in 1988 by Max Helton. The ministry began when the Reverend Helton was approached by NASCAR drivers Darrell Waltrip, Lake speed, and Bobby Hillin, and honored their request to serve as Chaplin for the sport.
Shortly there after, the first trackside services took place. Pocono Raceway owner, Dr. Joseph Mattioli comments, ""Max Helton had his first chapel meeting here at Pocono, from that time on we got interested in it, and we supported it"
The ministry grew providing spiritual guidance, and has expanded to include a cooperative sports medicine program with Wake Forest University, and a Children's day care and learning center.
Dale Beaver Photo: Thomas Chemris, Motorsport.com
Beaver travels with his wife Andree, and his children to a majority of the events
Is he a race fan, with a religion vocation? Or is he a man of God, drawn to where he is needed?
The answer is it is a little of both. Dale knew from a young age that this was a calling for him, and that he wanted to dedicate his life to Christ, but in no way did he invasion that this is what his future held.
Born in Madisonville, KY. he completed high school, and opted to train in business.
Two years out of school, the calling drew stronger, and he enrolled in the Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas. (1989)
During his studies, Dale met several people who would have a profound impact on this life, most important his wife, Andree.
After completing his studies, Dale remained in Texas, while Andree finished school. He began working for Interstate Batteries; it was well know at the seminary that one of the schools board members, Norm Miller owner Interstate batteries often-hired students.
Ironically, Dale's job was shipping NASCAR promotional materials out to distributors. "I enjoyed that, and I was starting to enjoy racing, while I was there, I met two gentlemen. Jim Cody, who was the corporate Chaplin for Interstate, and a local pastor named Dave Haney."
"Dave received a call from his college roommate (Don Hawk), who worked for Dale Earnhardt. He invited us up to the Talladega. So here I am working for Interstate, and I'm going to go and hang out with Earnhardt, and that's where I meet Max" "I had no idea that any ministry was going on in Winston Cup, I knew Norm (Miller) was involved in a personal ministry in the racing world, and that Joe Gibbs was a very vocal Christian, but I had no idea all this was going on. On the way back to Dallas, my friend looked at me and said, "The reason why I won't hire you to work at my church is because you were born to work for that ministry"
Dale dismissed the notion, and continued on with his life, relocating with his wife to Kentucky to minister to a parish
Four years later the phone rang, it was Jim Cody who by this time left Interstate, and was working for MRO. He wanted Dale to work with him and the ministry. With much thought, discussion and prayer, Dale and Andree where on the way to Charlotte, to become the Chaplin for the Busch Grand National Series. As fast as a 2-tire pit stop, plans changed, and Max Helton decided to cut back on his schedule, and Dale started his work in Winston Cup.
The racing community has embraced Dale, however the years have not been without difficulty.
The Loss of Dale Earnhardt, and last year's deaths of Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper have put tremendous stress on everyone involved in the sport, and just as in any community, many residents have turned it's Chaplin for support and guidance.
"NASCAR allows us to provided all the counseling services involved with trauma"
Chaplains in MRO receive yearly training in trauma and crisis, and although it is a grim aspect of the sport the utilization of the training is a necessary burden
Dale understands that there is an inherent power to the community of the series, as well as the drivers and teams.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Jerry Nadeau reflected on this heading into the race weekend. "It's tough to look ahead to Rockingham, but I know we will all be glad to be back together as a NASCAR family to support each other. No matter what happens on the track, we're all there for each other because of what we do. We travel together 38 weeks a year, so you become a family on the road, in the motor coach lot and in the garage. Hopefully, getting back to the track this weekend will help us all heal."
The thought of getting beyond this loss does not seems surreal, but the sport will, just as it did with the deaths of Petty, Irwin, Bonnet, and Roberts, and the other drivers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Dale Beaver, and MRO will be the support and strength that guides NASCAR through one of its darkest moments