August 4, 2022

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The tale powering a preacher’s prerace prayer that lives in NASCAR infamy

7 min read

By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sporting activities NASCAR Author

It begun like most race-keep track of invocations. Pastor Joe Nelms, in his deep Southern drawl, opened with a word of thanks.

“Heavenly father, we thank you tonight for all your blessings you ship, and all points give thanks,” the prayer began.

But just like cars after the fall of the green flag, Nelms strike the fuel and quickly turned the focus to racing. 

The prayer ongoing: “So we want to thank you tonight for these mighty equipment that you brought ahead of us. Thank you for the Dodges and the Toyotas. Thank you for the Fords, and most of all, we thank you for Roush and Yates partnering to give us the electricity that we see in advance of us tonight.

“Thank you for GM Functionality Technologies and R07 engines. Thank you for Sunoco racing gas and Goodyear tires that convey performance and ability to the observe.”

And then it obtained type of … racy?

“Lord, I want to thank you for my smokin’ hot spouse tonight, Lisa, my two kids, Eli and Emma – or, as we like to contact them, the Very little Es.”

The prayer then returned to the invocations most race lovers hear on a weekly foundation.

“Lord, I pray and bless the drivers, and use them tonight. Might they place on a efficiency deserving of this great monitor.”

But Pastor Joe Nelms was not finished. He experienced a person additional racing line left in advance of he would fall the mic.

“In Jesus’ name. Boogity, boogity, boogity. Amen.”

And there it was, in 53 seconds, the prayer that would are living in infamy.

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Persons could have acknowledged the Nashville Superspeedway for some wild race finishes or its guitar trophies or the time Kyle Busch smashed that guitar although celebrating a earn in victory lane.

But this 2011 prerace invocation? This mix ode to racing, ode to the Better Currently being and ode to our comedic senses will keep on being a single of Nashville Superspeedway’s most unforgettable times.

The observe returns to the NASCAR plan in 2021, and although Nelms won’t complete the prerace prayer simply because keep track of officials needed to unfold the chance to other clergy in the space, it is challenging to envision anyone seeking to duplicate what he did that working day.

The pastor himself felt a combine of disappointment and aid about not offering the invocation at the monitor that isn’t significantly from his dwelling “office environment” at the Relatives Baptist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee.

“There’s a small little bit of relief,” Nelms explained. “I imagined, ‘What will I do now?’ There’s no encore to that. I utilized up my finest material.”

Nelms didn’t have all that content written or memorized or prepared several years back. He had an thought of what he would say, but he doesn’t believe in scripts when it comes to prayer.

What he thinks was that he experienced witnessed also several prerace invocations that didn’t link with the race teams or the race lovers.

“It is obtained to exactly where you could see, they were hoping to be respectful, they knew it was a prayer, the followers and the crew, but they weren’t listening. They weren’t participating. It was not just about anything they ended up fascinated in,” Nelms mentioned.

“That was form of my commitment.”

He closed his eyes, as he usually does when he prays, and shipped terms fueled similarly by the passion of racing and the passion of ministry.

“Apostle Paul reported matters like, ‘I become all matters to all guys,’” Nelms reported. “If he would be there, he would want to talk the language, he would want to get to the people that he’s acquired the option to, not attempt to go to spiritual rhetoric with a bunch of race car or truck fans. It just doesn’t perform.”

Nelms surely spoke the language. Drivers and crews smiled but tried using not to giggle, and the crowd roared, in particular at the “smokin’ incredibly hot spouse” line created popular by Will Ferrell in “Talladega Nights” and the “boogity, boogity, boogity” line designed well known by Darrell Waltrip.

“You’re form of into the prayer, and you are listening, and as it goes on, it sort of gets you likely and gets you fired up,” driver Austin Dillon said. “And then as it’s likely, it almost became, this is future-stage. He was acquiring right after it in what he was indicating.”

Nelms had satisfied motorists prior to the race, something that designed him giddy, thinking about he figured the closest he would ever get to drivers would be watching from the affordable seats. They could feel his exhilaration. Dillon admits he fed off the energy of the prayer that day.

“The great part about it was it type of pumped me up just before the race,” Dillon said. “Some people use new music, but that prayer was like, ‘Man, I want to go out there and race and place on a clearly show for the supporters and do it for the huge gentleman above.’

“It was great. It received me fired up. It gave me goosebumps.”

Not all people felt the exact same way. Soon immediately after the prayer, the cellular phone rang at the church. Nelms’ wife answered the cellphone.

The pastor laughs as he tells this tale about the woman who termed the church –  and his wife’s reaction.

“She wished to gripe about how disrespectful I was to my wife,” Nelms mentioned. “[My wife] stated, ‘Ma’am, I am the wife. I enjoy it, and I seriously relished it.’ She beloved it.

“She is a very little far more shy, a minor additional personal than I am. But it positive did assist my relationship. It didn’t damage anything there.”

What it didn’t assist was the family trip scheduled for the times pursuing the Nashville race.

Alternatively of a holiday vacation at the seaside, Nelms expended hours within executing interviews, seeking to juggle the unexpected flurry of media requests. His only peaceful time arrived when he went to the ocean, and his phone didn’t ring for a couple of hrs. He then understood he experienced dropped his mobile phone in the water.

Possibly that was divine intervention to remind him to spend time with his family. It undoubtedly did not end the minimal little bit of fame he earned with that prerace prayer.

Considering that then, Nelms has sent the invocation at the Richard Childress Racing holiday break get together, and he serves as the track chaplain at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. 

He provides the exact electricity that he introduced to Nashville Superspeedway a decade in the past. He wishes to encourage persons in their environment, whether which is in the church, at an party or at the race monitor.

“It is just been truly awesome to try to remember what all this opened up in my lifestyle and what all opportunities it introduced, and I’m just humbled by the full thing,” Nelms reported.

“I’m just an old, region boy from North Ga that really don’t should have any of it, but I’m not supplying any of it back again.”

Who would give up the awesome times, these kinds of as the one particular he had a couple weeks in the past, when he noticed Darrell Waltrip at the gasoline station?

“I observed him at the gasoline station in this article in Lebanon, and that is the first matter he reported, ‘Oh, you are the boogity, boogity, boogity man,’” Nelms reported.

“And I explained, ‘No, you are.’”

They each are in the sense that they each utilized all those terms to hearth persons up, just in distinctive methods. They each applied all those words and their personalities to etch by themselves in racing lore.

“If there is not coronary heart, a enthusiasm about it, what great is it?” Nelms claimed. “When we preach, we are passionate about our preaching. No matter whether there are 10 folks or 100 people or 1,000 people, we want to be passionate.

“If it does not signify anything to you, if you are not thrilled about it, why need to anybody else get excited?”

Joe Nelms: NASCAR’s favorite preacher

Bob Pockrass dives into Lebanon Baptist Church’s Joe Nelms, the preacher well-known for his prayer at Nashville Superspeedway, and how he arrived up with a famous invocation instant.

Bob Pockrass has put in many years masking motorsports, such as the past 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports activities in 2019 pursuing stints at ESPN, Sporting Information, NASCAR Scene journal and The (Daytona Beach) Information-Journal. Observe him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Hunting for more NASCAR content material? Indicator up for the FOX Athletics NASCAR E-newsletter with Bob Pockrass!

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