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

soundoff (453 Responses)
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    June 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  5. HotAirAce

    Young Mr. Bayne did not fair so well today – he took 40th place at Phoenix today. What happened? Did his faith recede since last week? Were god and jc PO'd 'cause Trevor didn't take an "America First" approach to spending his (share of the) winnings from last week? Were god and jc busy handling something more important, here on earth or on some other planet? Or did they decide to switch teams – to assist Jeff Gordon? (I didn't see the trophy ceremony or post-race interviews – did JG credit god and jc, or is he a Pastafarian?). Did satan decide to step in and show god and jc who the top imaginary being is? Or???

    Please note, the above is no way intended to be critical of Mr. Bayne himself. It's about the "bigger picture" of religion and sports.

    February 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  6. Daniel Back2Back Nigeria

    You are a hero, we will keep you in our prayers...

    February 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  7. sundara Kennady

    It's A Awesome report "Cause being an young Adult one will like to enjoy everything under the Sun.He is A amzing person
    who has an Heart for the Orphans in the World,He will be Blessed More & more.God Bless You .

    February 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  8. HeavenSent

    Mark 16:16


    February 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  9. Carl P

    He's a fine race driver....(there are a lot of orphans right here in the US to save if someone wanted to tip him, Madonna and Jolie to that fact.)

    February 23, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  10. Jorge

    Stock car racing, an appropriate sport for Southern fundamentalist thumpers. Going round and round in circles for hours while making an awful lot of noise, without actually getting anywhere. *Snort.*

    February 23, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  11. Moogie713

    Trevor is a good driver...no denying that. But to believe God had anything to do with that is ludicrous. He can donate to any charity he wants but it looks as if Back2Back has recruited this kid to be their spokesman, giving money to help foreigners, when we have people starving & homeless here in America. So does this mean an atheist doesnt have a chance to win a cup race????

    February 23, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • Ron G.

      @moogie713, if God had nothing to do with this then who did? And as an atheist, who do you help? What charities can you be a poster child for besides Satan? We Christians pray for people like you because you don't know any better...sad!

      February 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Jason

      Im pretty sure he wasnt paid with tax dollars. The man can donate his money as he pleases. At least he decides to donate and not be greedy.

      February 24, 2011 at 6:59 am |
  12. Keith

    I can remember when Jeff Gordon used to thank his Lord and Savior after winning races. Perhaps Jeff could take a lesson from this youngster. This young man appears to be a class act. The sport could use more like him.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  13. Martin

    This kid is awesome. What a great way to start the 2011 NASCAR season. I know that there are many drivers in the sport who profess to be Christians but this kid appears to be the genuine article, an imitator of Jesus.

    February 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  14. colinsquat

    Hey Colin, you posted the same thing twice. Is that your superior intellect at work or did you just screw up? Moron.

    February 22, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  15. jesus

    These religious whack jobs make me sick

    February 22, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I assume you are using Jesus in the contemporary Spanish-speaking word spelled (Jesús).

      February 23, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  16. Jesus

    These religious whack jobs make me sick!!

    February 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • HeavenSent


      February 22, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • ralph

      you need to clean your sneakers......

      February 22, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
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About this blog

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.