Daytona 500 winner's race for faith
February 21st, 2011
02:22 PM ET

Daytona 500 winner's race for faith

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - Trevor Bayne may have won the Daytona 500 on Sunday, but a small charity he name-dropped will share in the spoils of victory.

The 20-year-old NASCAR driver was racing in just his second Sprint Cup competition and is now  etched in the record books as the youngest driver to win the sports' biggest race.

"I never thought in a million years we were gonna win our first one," Bayne told CNN Monday morning. "It's incredible."

During his post-race news conference, Bayne was asked how he would spend some of the $1,463,813 purse he won from the race.

“I don’t know if I will splurge. I am definitely not putting it up for retirement yet, I am going to stay around for awhile," Bayne said.

"Hopefully this money will help us get some more races, and there are a lot of foundations and ministries that need support. Back2Back ministries in Mexico is one, and there are a lot of good organizations that need some help, and we will help them out as much as we can."

In a sport that has ads plastered over nearly every inch of the drivers and their cars, it was a big deal for Bayne to namedrop the Christian charity.

Back2Back is an independent Christian charity working with orphans and the needy in Mexico, Nigeria and India. Bayne was introduced to the charity by Lonnie Clouse, a former chaplain for NASCAR with Motor Racing Outreach, who is now on staff with Back2Back.

"I assure you it was nothing short of miraculous.  Trever called me yesterday from the media center after the win with tears in his eyes and we prayed together over the phone," Clouse said by phone from Monterrey, Mexico.

"This was part of God's script and God's plan for him.  He's using his platform to talk about those with no voice and [about] orphan awareness."

Young rookie's Daytona 500 victory 'hasn't sunk in'

Motor Racing Outreach (MRO) provides weekend church services and Bible studies for NASCAR drivers and their teams who can't get away from the track on race weekends. Clouse was MRO’s traveling chaplain for the NASCAR Nationwide series.

"[Bayne] was a faithful attendee at all our Nationwide Bible studies.  He would sit in the front row.  He would get up and read scripture or open in prayer, whatever we needed," Clouse said.

Bayne traveled to Mexico to work with Clouse in November. "He was down here in Mexico staying with us and serving along side us helping with orphans," Clouse said.

"We went and visited orphanages. He made quite an impression here. He was out playing soccer with the orphans.  We huddled them all around, and Trevor got to talk to them about what he did.  They were asking him how fast he went.  Most of them had no clue who he was and what he did," Clouse said.

Bayne visits with an orphan on a trip to Mexico in November.

After the race Clouse gathered the orphans together and filled them in on Bayne's big win. "It was exciting for them to hear how well he did."

Clouse was ordained in a non-denominational church. MRO pulls chaplains from many different denominations. Clouse said Bayne is member of a church near his home but gets most of his spiritual nourishment on the road from MRO.

For the former chaplain, all those Bible studies at the race track paid off when Bayne was in the winners circle.

"He summed up the two greatest commandments, 'Love the lord your God with all your heart' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  He got up on that stage and he was able to articulate those things beautifully.  It was a very very proud moment for me and for MRO."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Florida • Sports • United States

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.