Larry Smiley, Biography
I am the president of Team RFC / Christian Motorsports International. I have served in this capacity since 2005. I began my career with Team RFC as a volunteer chaplain. I have served Christ side by side with my lovely wife Linda since 1998.
I became aware of Team RFC in 1996 while attending a go-cart race being held on the streets of downtown Oklahoma City. I attended Sunday morning church services at my home church before making the trip to watch shifter kart racing. I was walking through the pits looking at the karts when I saw a sign taped to a trailer announcing the RFC Chapel Service. I noticed that the service had happened earlier that morning at RFC Chaplain Eric Blakeny’s pit. I took the sign down and carried it around looking for Eric. I found his pit while he was on the track racing. As I was waiting my Spirit was excited to find an organization that combined my love for Jesus Christ and racing. Eric and I talked that afternoon for a while and we made plans to have dinner together with our wives. I knew that I had experienced a Divine assignment from God on this day.
I have been a lover of motorsports since I was twelve years old. When I first heard the open headers of a dirt modified racecar, I was drawn to everything loud, fast and exciting. I attended my first race at Oklahoma State Fair Speedway in 1962, riding to the races in the back of a Ford pickup flat towing a super modified sprint car. Jay Hughes, a neighbor of mine, was the owner of this racecar and little did I know that he was a championship car builder. His car “swept” that first night I attended: winning the heat race, trophy dash and the A Feature. I learned very quickly that this was a big deal. I hung around with Jay after the race waiting for his winnings. I’m not sure how much he won but after he collected the money, we went to the “Victory Bar” just outside of the racetrack. I spent my time sitting in the back of the pickup or inside the racecar drinking all of the Dr. Peppers I could stand while the team celebrated. Jay’s wife and my parents weren’t very happy when we arrived back at Jay’s house around midnight. I had a great experience that night and it has lasted me a lifetime.
I became a Team RFC chaplain in 1997. Linda and I were called to our first assignment when Jim Jack asked what I thought about ministering to “drag boat racing.” I told him that day the same thing I tell God every day; “I want to go where I can be used for His purposes.” We did our first SDBA event in May of 1998 at Cameron Park in Waco, Texas. It was in early 1999 when I assumed additional duties as the Team RFC director to the South Central Region. I was still working full time at Dub Richardson Ford (DRF) in Oklahoma City; so to say I was spread thin would be an understatement. DRF had new ownership in 1999 and there was some concern about me taking days off to do Team RFC ministry. Jerry Richardson, the previous owner, admired my commitment to serve God and work full time, so he gave me all the days I needed. The new owners told me I could only have the four weeks vacation I had accrued and no more. I took out my schedule and figured out the days I needed off and calculated that August 19 would be the last day I could work on their new plan. I had a meeting with the new service manager in March and gave him notice that August 19 would be my last day to work. He dismissed what I was telling him. I reiterated my statement and told him I would give him a proper two weeks notice before August 19th.
Linda and I had a great time of ministry to start the 1999 season. We were very busy doing double and triple duty. God blessed all that we were doing and He confirmed that my decision to leave a very secure and lucrative job was the correct thing to do. I turned in my written notice on August 5th. The service manager refused to accept it. He said I could stay and use all the days I needed. I told him it was too late and that God had another, better plan for me. I walked out knowing that God would take care of me, and He has.
1999 was the year I did my first NHRA National event in Memphis. It was a cold and windy weekend. I was surprised when an NHRA media person asked to meet me in the tower on Friday. She asked me if I would be willing to do a wedding Saturday morning. I told her I would need to talk to the couple first. She connected the couple with me and we set a time Saturday morning to do the service. The couple had made arrangements to have the ceremony in Scotty Cannon’s WWF fuel funny car pit. I was surprised, when we all showed up, that there were TV cameras and media people galore standing around. I was wondering if all of the NHRA national events were going to be this flamboyant. The wedding went well and God was high and lifted up, even if none of the audio got on TV.
I have done a couple hundred NHRA national events since then and I can tell you they are all unique. I love the anticipation that comes as I prepare to attend another event as God’s hands and feet. I pray that I will represent Him as an accurate reflection of His Son Jesus. I have had long, cold, windy, hot, humid, wet, tearful, tiring and joyous weekends at racetracks all over America. I am truly blessed; to have been given this opportunity to follow the path that God set out for me from the beginning of time. I don’t know exactly where it will lead, and that’s good. I trust God to use me for His purposes today and every day that I draw a breath. I’m ready at the trumpet call to follow my Savior and stand with Him in battle, just as I have done so many times already.
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