By Jim Jack

“Free Ride”

In today’s world, too many people (in my opinion) want a free ride for whatever they can grab on to. They want free handouts now and also in the foreseeable future. It’s sad to think so many people are not willing to carry their own weight and do their part when it comes to earning their own way as an integral piece of society’s puzzle.

Several generations ago, the USA was an open door to all people who wanted to travel here and were not afraid to work hard for a better life. Their goal was striving vigorously to get ahead, get an education to improve their future along the way…whether it meant bailing hay…working in a factory making bricks of clay…laboring morning to evening in a hot sun ray…when things look gloomy or gray…insuring their future would be better one day…but not holding their future at bay…and listening and obeying to what God had to say.

When it comes to drag racing, there are no free rides. We all know that any form of racing will cost you plenty of hard earned dollars. The faster you want to go, the more it will cost you. The deeper you go, the deeper your pockets must be. There are entry level racing machines and there are million dollar nitro burning hot rods at the top of the racing food chain.

In the old days of drag racing, a decent driver could land a ride in a good and fast boat, truck, motorcycle, or car…and with skill perhaps go far…but in today’s world getting sponsor money is like going to war…or pulling those dollars out of sticky tar…a tough deal negotiating with a sponsors top czar…remember, don’t put all of your hopes in one jar.

From 1958–1991, our family paid our own way for tickets and expenses when we went to the drag races all over southern California, as well as up and down the West Coast. San Diego to Seattle…at times it was an economic battle…we hoped (and prayed) our bank account didn’t rattle…our kids were all in, no need for a paddle…at times in our packed ’74 Dodge van we were cramped like cattle…but we were happy just to be together in the saddle.

Going to the races cost Linda and I (with our two kids) time and money to attend, but we wanted to do everything together as a family, and we never gave it a second thought about spending our money on family adventures like going to the drag races. We were simply doing what we loved, and what we wanted to do—be at the races together, regardless of the cost.

The hundreds of relationships we’ve made along the way during these years are worth more than the thousands of dollars we spent going to a variety of racetracks. This multitude of first-rate friends went out of their way to treat us to the best hospitality on the planet. “Free” room and board, noble companionship, and the best food you can imagine, including dessert—their genuine love towards us that cannot be duplicated.

Through these fine friends God has given us a “Free Ride” that is better than any “E” ticket ride you could pay for. It’s been a joy-packed journey to be on this blessed ride the Lord called us to be on these past thirty years. This ride is the best…I surely wouldn’t jest…I think we passed the test…tried hard not to be a pest…we’ve received true rest…quickly learned to trust Jesus as His special guest…knowing He’s the Host of a heavenly love fest!

Since becoming a chaplain with RFC in April 1991, we’ve been blessed to attend the races for free. In 1988 I made a life-long commitment to study and learn the Gospel. Our intentions were never to look at ministry as a “Free Ride.” It ultimately resonated with us how important an RFC chaplain is as part of the racing community team, as teachers, servants, sounding boards, advisers, prayer partners, hospital visits for the injured and hurting (100’s), officiating weddings (60), funeral services (90) for racers, friends, and families.

Y’all know I love music; and Christian music is special because it praises God. I also thank God for my roots in rock and roll, with songs like the Allman Brothers “Blue Sky,” “You’re my blue sky, you’re my sunny day. Lord you know it makes me high when you turn your love my way.” God turned His love my way in February 1988, and since that day His Spirit has guided us on a preeminent “Free Ride.”

We went to many rock and roll concerts back in the B.C. days as I’ve shared many of those over the years in my writings, but we enjoyed them for the wrong reason. We saw the Edgar Winter Group at a concert in Long Beach, CA in the mid 70’s. They had a couple of hit songs, “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride.” Check out these lyrics to Free Ride……

“The mountain is high, the valley is low, and your confused on which way to go,

So I’ve come here to give you a hand, and lead you into the promised land.

All over the country, I’ve seen it the same, nobody’s winning at this kind of game.

We gotta do better, it’s time to begin, you know all the answers must come from within.

Come on and take a free ride.”

What an offer: A “Free Ride” from God, the Author and Finisher of our faith, regardless of whether we’re riding high, or down in the dumps, He always extends His hand to lead and guide us to His heavenly Promised Land. No matter what you do on earth, no one can win the eternal life game on their own. We can only win through God’s plan as it comes from within: The indwelling Holy Spirit of God Himself…so hop off the shelf…and accept His “Free Ride.”

Here are some true stories of “Free Rides” provided by God. The truth of these stories is in the reality of how God used the game of drag racing in our lives to bring us to where we are today. No brag, as I had nothing to do with it. It’s just a simple fact of His provisions for His followers. The Frank Hawley Drag Racing School gave me a “Free Ride” to drive a Super Comp Dragster in 2002, taught by friend “Fast” Jack Beckman. What a gift from God!

Several years later we had the pleasure of touring New York City with some good friends, right after an RFC Staff Conference in Pennsylvania. These friends (without our knowledge) decided they would pay our way for a two day adventure of a lifetime. Carrie Jaquith (who lives in New York City), met us for a subway ride to Wall Street…she paid and said it was her treat. We rode the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty to Staten Island and then back. Before the ride she said put your money away…’cause I am going pay. Then we went to Carmine’s restaurant on Broadway for a terrific dinner and once again Carrie said put away your credit card…I’m paying because you’re in my backyard!

The next day we (along with Julie & Kirk Thompson of RFC) were picked up by Frank and Marian Cicerali (who live in New Jersey) in a van driven by Aunt Nina. It became a twelve hour day that is forever etched in our minds. We labeled it the “Assassination Fascination Tour” (explanation later) because of what we experienced that day. The Cicerali’s were totally in charge as they had some great plans mapped out. This adventure took us through Little Italy, Chinatown, The Bronx, Brooklyn, we even drove by Al Pacino’s mother’s house, stopping at some great places along the way…again they said it’s on us, please allow us pay.

We toured some 1870’s “Tenement Museums” where European immigrants lived—remember, they came to America not seeking a handout, or feeling entitled, but to start a new life, as they wanted the chance to work and earn their way into society after arriving in New York City…when we saw how they lived it was a pity. We drove past several locations where Frank said the mafia had gunned down and murdered some crooks…if you don’t believe it, read some history books. We kept on cruising and laughing all the way…on that special day…enjoying this incredible city with many a great friend…who wouldn’t let us attempt to spend.

Pizza for lunch at a deli was on the menu…they said we’re treating and we can out spend you. We eventually met up with their two sons and future wives for a revolving roof-top dinner…we had spent no money because these friends are a sure winner.

By late Saturday evening we realized we were blessed by fantastic friends, fabulous fellowship, first-class food, and the finest fun-filled hours, but had no inkling these two action packed days would be a “Free Ride”…we simply choked down our pride…the expenses they did not divide…all we did was abide…their love for us was obviously wide…their generosity they didn’t hide…my credit card I did not have to slide…for this incredible “Free Ride”…and it demonstrated how through others the Lord is willing and able to provide!