Southern Slingshots at Roxboro, NC
by Adam Pyle
Oct. 18, Jennie and I
made the trip to Henderson, NC along with our good
friend Jody Leasock, his brother, (Denny) and
brother in-law (Jason) to race with the Southern
Slingshots at the near by Roxboro Dragway. This race
was the “kick-off” event for the 6th annual East
Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame weekend. The Henderson
event continues to get bigger every year with
expected 2500 vehicles to take over the historic
Out first round was
going to be a bit different from any other race we
have ever encountered. In the days before electronic
timers and christmas tree starts, there
was a guy
with a flag that stood between the cars, lined them
up, and raised his flag to start the race. Red
Clayton was the original flag starter of Roxboro Dragway in the early 60’s. He, once again, at age 75
stood between pairs of alcohol burning dragsters and
did his job. It was a bit confusing for some of us
racers that never had a flag start, but it gave the
fans a chance to see how things ran “back in the
day.” We lined up against Mike Grey’s “Moonshine
Express” after side by side smoky burnouts. Red
pointed to each of us to make sure we were ready to
go. Mike nodded, and I gave him a “thumbs up.” The
green flag went up, and we were gone. Front wheels
hiked 18” in the air for 50 feet! The Roxboro racing
surface may have been a bit rough, but the track
personnel was not bashful with the VHT traction
compound on the starting line. Our car made a move
to the right and almost crossed the centerline. I
tried to peddle the throttle to get things under
control, but Mike’s car was too far ahead to catch
For the second round,
we were back to the christmas tree and time slips.
Once again, Mike and I got ready for out race by
doing big, long side-by-side burnouts. Jennie helps
me back up into the fresh streaks of rubber that was
just put down. Again, at the hit of the throttle,
the front wheels are in the air. Mike’s big-block is
right next to our car despite our slight reaction
time advantage. Our car was first to the stripe
running 4.68 @ 152 mph to Mike’s effort of 4.94 @
One of the issues most
of the Southern Slingshot drivers had in common at
Roxboro was helmet visor fogging. It is normal for
helmet visors and Lexan windshields to fog up on
humid evenings while waiting to race. Usually the
fog evaporates quickly while going down the track.
This was not the case at Roxboro. There was a lot of
talk between drivers as to how to cure the problem,
but nothing seemed to work. Mike and I agreed before
the third and final race, that it was no use to take
chances. If the fogging issue persisted, we would
lift at half-track. That was the case, and Mike and
I both let off and coasted through the lights, our
car slightly ahead.
Both Jody and the nitro
altered he was racing had problems on their first
Clutch problems forced the nitro altered onto
the trailer. Jody shook the tires so hard during his
burnout that the valve stem was ripped away from the inner-tube of his rear slicks. In a spirit of
determination, he and his crew
removed the tubes on
both rear tires, and made the call to the staging
lanes for the last round of racing. After a full
track length burn out, Jody backed up his
small-block Ford powered altered. His car left the
starting line hard and was on a good run.
Unfortunately, his car began skating around about
half-track and was shut down early.
The local Dodge dealer
in Henderson sponsored a car show and cruise on
Friday. There was free Bar-B-Que and Coke for
everyone in attendance. Even pesky rain showers
couldn’t dampen the spirit of all the participants.
Even though we decided to leave the dragster in the
trailer, we had a nice relaxing time looking at the
cars, passing out Gospel Motorsports info cards, and
talking to lots of people.
Geezer's at the Grove 2007
The 2007 Geezer's event at Maple Grove Raceway was a
great time for Gospel Motorsports with new
racing accomplishments and opportunities for outreach.
Adam and Jennie Pyle's Snake-Bit nostalgia dragster
team arrived from Somerset, Pennsylvania as the
gates opened and met up with Darryl and his dad.
After getting through tech, it was determined that
Snake-Bit could run in the exhibition class and
Adam would be able to match race with their neighbor Jody Leasock who journeyed with them along the PA
turnpike. Jody races a blown small block Ford altered. It
was shaping up to be an ideal match race, Chevy vs.
Ford, Dragster vs. Altered.
The pit side at Maple
Grove was packed, extending parking into the far
reaches of the field. While the Gospel
Motorsports teams got ready to race, many fans of
drag racing, both current and from yesteryear
stopped by to speak with the teams about their cars.
A gentlemen who had just received bypass surgery
five weeks ago visited to speak of his inspiration
to work on his Nova drag car. A father and son
shared their racing and restoration interests and
shared their faith in Christ. The chaplain at
the track started the race with a prayer of thanks
for the blessings and a request of healing for one of
Don Garlit's crew members who is struggling with
their physical health.
The racing got underway
as the nostalgia I & II
classes made their time runs. It proved to be a hot day
for Darryl's Nova as the car slowed a few tenths
from its typical ET to 11.80s.
The exhibition cars were then called to the lanes
where Adam and Jody had the company of
nostalgia dragsters, funny cars, and a wheel-standing
anxiousness of the crowd grew as Maple Grove made
their meticulous track preparations. The first
few exhibition cars made their runs and then Adam and
Jody made the bend from the staging lanes, Adam on
the right and Jody to the left. The sound of
the zoomie headers made a crackle in the air as the
two cars came to life and the whir of their
superchargers made a subtle but powerful undertone. The two
rolled through the water box and
and lit their tires almost simultaneously.
While Adam's car continued to roll forward after the
burnout, Jody's lost its pulse as the blower belt
was thrown from the front of the engine. Jody
unfortunately would not be able to make a pass after
the breakage and they pushed him back. After
clearing the left lane, Adam
the motor and prepared to stage for a single run.
The car launched hard with a 1.09 sixty foot time
and ran hard for an ET of 7.41 at 174mph while still having more left in the tune-up on the
top end. It was a strong run that brought
cheers from the crowd as Adam's pass was one of the
quickest of the day.
program ran later than expected at Maple Grove and
the Snake-Bit team began preparations to return to
Somerset, staying for the cacklefest with Don
Garlits firing up one of his Swamp Rat dragsters and
the Jade Grenade nostalgia nitro dragster. It
was a great tribute to these cars and drivers.
track also recognized a local Pennsylvania funny car
racer who was known for his showmanship, Jungle Jim
Lieberman who had passed away 30 years ago.
The Geezer event was a
great opportunity for fellowship
among the Gospel Motorsports team and visitors alike
and hopefully will bring many opportunities for
outreach in the future. It was announced that
next year the Geezer race would be a 3-day event at
Racing and The Unspoken Word
There are times where
events unfold before you and within an instant you
are confident that you are seeing His hand at work upon your life. September
15th, 2007 became one of those days for Darryl both
directly and indirectly. It started like most race
days for the Gospel Motorsports team as the team
members were assembled for the journey and upon
arrival enjoyed another remarkable breakfast
prepared by Neil. This day would offer the Junior
Challenge race for Maple Grove which would bring
many junior racers to compete for special
trophies within their age groups.
Zachary's car appeared to be running slower than
anticipated. The computer confirmed a
malfunction by showing a fluctuation in the cylinder
head temperature. Prior to first round of
eliminations, the spark plug was tightened as the expected
culprit, and while the car returned to normalcy, the
first round ended the day for Zachary with a .010
red light against fellow Maple Grove racer, Kelli Witkowski. Kelli had a great day and went on
to runner-up in the 10-11 age group.
The afternoon brought
the opportunity to fellowship with Doug Myers who
had shared of an outreach that would be happening
at Williams Grove Speedway in the coming weeks.
As the discussion moved between racing and worship,
Doug shared a scripture that is particularly
meaningful to him, Matthew 6:33. The chapter
begins with speaking about how God had provided for
the splendor of Solomon and describes how the same
provision exists for us if only we will seek him
first. The scripture had a very unique context
for Darryl as well and an irony that dates back to
first time he met Doug.
As the two shared their highs and lows of racing,
Darryl mentioned his limited success
racing as a hobby in 1991, having three runner-ups
and qualifying for the bracket finals in that year,
but having never won a race. In those years,
Darryl was captivated by many things, but did not
have a focus or respond to the calling of
the Lord. A few years later, in 1999, Darryl removed a
few of the obstacles in his life and re-instated his
relationship with the Lord.
There was little racing in those years, but In 2001
after re-assembling the combination in the Nova,
Darryl entered the Super Chevy race. After
going six rounds, Darryl met Doug in the final.
While at first it would seem that Darryl's first
racing victory was
provision referred to in the
scripture, today's discussion and fellowship with Doug on the foundation of the Lord has become the
real blessing of that 2001 event.
As for Darryl's race
day, he managed another first with a .000 light in
the first round of competition, making it to the
third round to face John Grater. John is an
amazing person and always friendly and helpful. To round out the story,
two of the three final round losses experienced by
Darryl in 1991 were to John. During this race,
both cars bumped in deep, but Darryl went in too
deep and had to back off the tree. John cut a
.014 light to Darryl's .149, but John ran off his
dial by a tenth making it a close .02 at the finish
with the well deserved win going to John.
The next day at
Sunday's church service, Pastor Bryan Moore
presented a sermon based on Building and Restoring
Integrity in Church Membership. One of the
foundational scriptures was Matthew 6:33.
There are times were the Lord speaks to us silently,
but his message could not be any clearer.
Snake-Bit Explores Pittsburgh History
and Jennie Pyle visited what remains of
Pittsburgh International Dragway (PID)
with their blown and injected front-engine dragster,
Snake Bit. After navigating the narrow "path"
to get to this nostalgic site, the Pyles unloaded
the dragster and took a few photos to herald the
glory days of this track from the 60's and 70's.
Looking at Snake Bit pointed to the finish line, the
sound of the surging blower motor starts to increase
in decibels as the alcohol fumes fill the starting
line, and the car begins to stage, the rpms come up
as the tree comes down and another pass is made in
our memories of a track that brought many of the
best drivers from the Pennsylvania and Ohio area.
After the photo
session, Adam and Jennie headed 30 miles north to
Car Cruise in Wexford, Pennsylvania.
Starlite is advertised as one of the largest weekly
car cruises on the east coast. Over 950 cars
were in attendance
of all varieties including street cars, hot rods,
muscle cars, lead sleds, imports and bikes.
What makes Starlite even more special is that the
cruise is wrapped around a ministry and a church as
the event is held in the North Way Church parking
To see more photos of
PID and Starlite Car Cruise, click
Zachary's Runner-Up and the Burger King Encounter
On July 29th the team
made its way to Numidia Dragway for the first race
with the new junior combination and the new team
colors. The tow was long but
through the mountains of central Pennsylvania.
We geared up for time runs, and Zachary clicked off a 9.10 followed by
a 9.01. The team was filled with smiles that
the out-of-the-box combination was close to the 8.90
index. First round found Zachary with a win
running a 9.02 on a 9.00 dial. Next round
Zachary faced Anthony Guido and ran an 8.985 on an
8.98 dial. In the third round Zachary faced
Kelli Witkowski who also runs an EP Motorsports
motor and who has run very competitively at Maple
Grove this season. Zachary had a small edge on
reaction time and was able to run 8.98 on an 8.96
dial for the win. The rains then came as the
team threw all the gear in the trailer and took
cover. As the sky let up, Zachary prepared for
a bye-run into the final. Bob Dimino is a
great track owner and operator as he comes through
the lanes to greet the kids and promotes a sense of
accomplishment for the younger racers by running two
age groups with a run-off between them for the final. In the final
round, Zachary ran a breakout 9.02 on a 9.06 dial in
the runner-up effort. It is hard to not
consider the blessings of this day by going five
rounds with a new car and first time out for the
On the ride home, the
team stopped at the Burger King at the intersection
of Route 61 and Route 78 as they needed to pickup
added ballast from Cabelas for those cold days in
fall. As the team stood in line to place their
order a gentleman asked where we got the shirts.
We shared they were team shirts and went on with our
order. The gentleman and his friend walked out
and that nudge of the Lord taking you by the hand
led Darryl out to the parking lot to discuss their
inquiry about the shirts. As the rain fell,
Darryl and the two gentleman stood outside the
trailer discussing their faith in the Lord and how
to bring the values of Christianity to racing,
baseball, and all walks of life. We hope to
see them again in their Gospel Motorsports t-shirts.
It was hard to put to words how much the team missed
the opportunities of good-hearted competition and
witnessing for the Lord through the first half of
this season, but it came on strong on this day and
was an incredible blessing.
Welcome Doug & Cathi Myers
meeting in the final at Super Chevy six years ago,
2007 brought us together with Doug and Cathi Myers
in a whole new light. That light was our
mutual love for Christ as we shared our walks of
faith in discussions during the second round of time
trials and throughout the event. Doug and
Cathi attend Calvary Chapel in Lancaster and Cathi
works as a missionary providing ministry to the
mentally disabled. Doug races a 1969 Camaro
Z28 that runs very consistently in the mid to high
11 second range and is very competitive with
numerous race wins to his accomplishments.
We had great
discussions about the possibilities of bringing
church services to Maple Grove Raceway on Sundays if
we can just work out the logistics in cooperation
with Racers for Christ and the track.
Super Chevy - Maple Grove Raceway
Super Chevy has become
a mainstay in the Gospel Motorsports lineup of
events and this year was blessed with awesome
weather and a great turnout.
Roger Gustin continues to provide a great show with
nitro-coupes running low six second ETs and jet cars
reaching 300mph. The car show is top notch and
the bracket racing is designed to be great fun for
the many participants. It takes all three days
to get in a full program with time runs on Friday
and Saturday and one round of eliminations Saturday
On the way to the track
on Sunday, the team held a roadway Bible lesson
about David's son Solomon and his desire for wisdom
and knowledge to rule God's chosen people. God
blessed him with knowledge and because his request
was used for the good of the nation, God blessed him
with riches and greatness. Although a bit
heavy for an early Sunday discussion, Solomon's
wisdom was exemplified when he needed to discern
which of two women were lying about whose baby
survived and whose died. He just offered to
cut the baby in half so it could be shared and the
real mother was revealed. They also covered
Proverbs 19:21 "You can make many plans, but the
Lord’s purpose will prevail." which somehow
struck a chord with this year's racing.
The racing was terrific
fun while Darryl entered both DOT and Bracket 2
classes and while red-lighting first round with a
-.007 in DOT, he managed to get to third round on
Sunday in Bracket 2 after winning a very close
second round with a .005 to .016 reaction time
advantage. In the third round he would lose to
a 9 second 148mph Lumina. There was nothing
but the red flash of Nick Lewis' car flying by at
the finish line as Darryl hit the brakes too early.
Motorsports enjoyed meeting new brothers and sisters
in Christ in the staging lanes and at the Sunday
services held by Racers For Christ. Pastor Dan
Laterza and his wife Claire were unable to make this
year's event, as Greg Whedbee and his wife Anne
provided services with a message about the greatest
cities of all time. Pastor Greg shared that
while New York City and Hong Kong offered financial
greatness, as Christians we can recognize the value
of Bethlehem a town of a few thousand that gave
birth to a king, who would later lose his earthly
life in Jerusalem, the second of the cities to
provide each of us with the opportunity to be a part
of the third greatest city which John describes in
Revelations as the New Jerusalem. Imagine a
city sparkling in bright light, jewels, where no
pain and suffering exists that has been granted to
us if we accept Christ's call.
Welcome Eric Reed
writes to us from Georgia where he runs a 1973 AMX
Hornet wrapped around a tube chassis. His
power comes from a methanol injected 336ci small
block Chevy and rows the gears with a Liberty Pro
Stock 5-speed with a 6.4 rear ratio. The car
weighs in at 2400lbs and runs low 5's in the eighth
mile. The motor reaches for the sky with a
launch rpm of 13.5k and shift points at 15k.
The blue Jesus license plate looks great on the car
Eric's team is called Power Camp Racing after their
ministry, Power Camp Ministries. Power Camp
was started in 1997 as an outreach ministry by Eric
& Alma Reed. They traveled around to local areas
setting up a tent and holding a church services on
Sundays. After church they would provide a meal and
pass out clothing to the attendees. Eric
writes, "every so often the Lord would lead us to
have a baptism service and we would get the mobile
baptism pool and baptize all comers. A lot of people
have been led to the Lord and baptized since '97,
and we plan to do a lot more." Eric and Alma
continue to pastor the ministry while Eric Jr. is a
drummer and preaches with Matt singing and Chris on
keyboards. It sounds like Power Camp
ministries is aptly named with sources from faith,
family, and giving.
Cecil County Warm Up July 15
The season was well
into swing as the Super Chevy Show at Maple Grove
approached and Gospel Motorsports had yet to be at
the dragstrip in 2007. While the rest of the
team rested up from a grueling baseball tournament
on Saturday, Darryl set out for Cecil County in the
hopes of getting a few rounds of racing. To
really step up the program, he entered both Street
and Pro classes to maximize the practice. In
spite of this being the first race, it was a great
day as Darryl reached the third round in both
classes. It also revealed the other elements
of racing that were not up to the task like not
having the spray bottle for the radiator. This
proved to be trouble for hot lapping on a 94-degree
in the shade kind of day.
By the second round of
Pro, the Nova started to run 190 degrees. To
maximize the cool down, the car was pitted until the
last possible moment. As the announcer put out
a final call for round three of Pro cars, the Nova
pulled into the end of the lanes, only to find a
very interesting situation. The driver(s) of
the car in front were going to forfeit their races
as their last pass ended with little to no brakes on
a very fast Camaro. Yes, there were two
drivers in one car and they both had made it to the
third round and had to forfeit two races. To
get points for the round, they needed to stage and
take the green then back out. This was a great
opportunity as all that was needed was a green
light, or so it was thought. Down track,
Darryl contemplated shutting down at the 60' and
then the 1000' just to conserve cool-down time.
Instead, he ran it out the back to get a full time
run and foolishly broke out by .03 losing the race.
As the announcer was in disbelief, so was Darryl as
he had to return to the staging lanes for third
round of Street where the crew from the Pro car
mentioned the mistake. Darryl shrugged and
conveyed an overall good day. The crew member
mentioned, "I guess you're not out for blood like
some guys." It was then that Darryl realized
his prayer of bringing glory to the Lord took on new
meaning. The glory of winning certainly brings
benefit to any racing program, but humility and
sportsmanship are also important traits.
Shepherd of the Hills Car Show
Gospel Motorsports made
their first outing of 2007 at the first annual
Day Car Show at Shepherd of the Hills Church in
Bechtelsville, PA on June 17th. The car show
was the inspiration of Shepherd of the Hills Family
Pastor, Scott Staub who was motivated to allow the
fathers to exercise their appreciation for things
mechanical. Mother's Day provides an appreciation in
the form of flowers, why not something a bit more
masculine as a Father's Day format? The show
entrants covered the classic manufacturers,
European, and even some off-road vehicles.
Click here for a
collection of photos from the event.
of the Hills was able to wrap the car show into the
Sunday service as Pastor John Brown delivered a
message from Proverbs, reinforcing fatherly duties.
Pastor Scott gave a message to those who remained outside
for the show and at
the end of the services all gathered in the parking
lot to take in the show and
enjoy hot dogs and refreshments.
Gospel Motorsports' new Salvation Safety Equipment shirts
were sold to raise
money for the Shepherd of the Hills missions
ministry. A number of youth and a few nimble
adults took a seat inside the junior dragsters to
get a feel of the cockpit and hear the rumble of a
methanol engine. Pastor Scott brought the
praise music that echoed from his vehicle and
provided a great backdrop for the event.
There were no prizes
other than the fellowship with one another to share
our vehicles and our faith in God.
It was a great experience that we hope will continue
as an event for years to come.
Mourning the loss of Eric Medlen
On March 23, 2007 Nitro
Funny Car driver Eric Medlen succumbed to head
injuries suffered from a crash occurring five days
prior while testing at Gainesville Raceway. He
was a rising star in one of the fastest classes in
drag racing, traveling at over 300mph.
As part of the racing
community, we all tend to reach inside ourselves to
understand Eric's last moments on earth, to
understand John Medlen, Eric's father and crewchief,
or John Force as his team owner, friend and driving
mentor, and finally to understand ourselves.
We might think about that next step we make, the
next breath we take, or the next thought we have and
put it into the perspective of those closest to this
loss. All of a sudden, that bad day at work
seems quite meaningless and it brings a reminder to
run our lives on the straight and narrow path that
God has provided for us, much like a dragstrip.
It reminds me of the
valuable gift God has given us. In
considering Eric's father, it also brings a
perspective of the incredible pain and difficulty
that must have existed for God to sacrifice His Son.
His Son was perfect in every way to be put to
suffering, pain, and torture for a fallen people.
We are that fallen people and we owe an incredible
respect and love to our Father God for his
Our thoughts and
prayers go to the Medlen family and those at John
Time to build more horsepower
As of November 19th
there are 91 days until Daytona speed weeks and like
any driven race team (no pun intended) Gospel
Motorsports is making plans for the next season.
While there are mechanicals to worry about there is
a much more
element to apply to next season. Gospel
Motorsports started as a single team of faithful
Christians with the ultimate sponsor who provides
the ultimate in life. Like feeling the g-force
in a high horsepower launch, we have just gotten a
taste of witnessing to others in our journeys this
year and we are hooked. How can we build more
power in our program? If you or someone you
know has an interest in motorsports and building the
faith in others, contact us.
Would you run a decal
of Proverbs 21:31 on your race car, show car, or
street car? If you would like to join in a
group purchase of decals or shirts for 2007, contact
us via email at
email@example.com. Our goal
is not to sell these items at a profit but only to
cover the costs to generate the interest at other
tracks, car shows and in various circles. We
also hope to promote other ministries like Racers
For Christ and remain as just a race team with
mountains of horsepower in the program.
Do you have a
devotional involving automobiles and your faith?
Or do you want to publish the race logs of your
faith based racing program? Email it to us and
we will publish it.
Fast with Faith
would like to welcome Adam and Jen Pyle to our team.
Adam races a very fast blown alcohol front engine
dragster at various tracks throughout the eastern
seaboard and shares the common goal of spreading the
Word of the Lord at race tracks and automotive
events. Look for more details on upcoming
News Archives 2006
News Archives 2005