In the last few years, two of our country’s hallowed institutions have seen declining attendance. In an effort to turn things around, the Lutheran church and NASCAR have combined to promote an event that celebrates both the racing tradition of NASCAR and the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The new race will be added to the NASCAR schedule and has been appropriately dubbed the “Reformation 500”.
At first glance, the giant sports franchise and the church of Martin Luther appear to have little in common. On further inspection, however, they share a number of characteristics. Both NASCAR and the Lutheran church see their greatest attendance on Sundays but also see a marked drop in attendance if it should rain. Both NASCAR and the church have a core group of individuals running in circles while the majority are spectators.
New Race is a Blend of Two Cultures
As the first race created specifically in partnership with another organization, the Reformation 500 will have some characteristics that differentiate it from the rest of the NASCAR schedule. Specifically, the Lutheran church insisted on the following list of changes.
- All of the cars and drivers are to be insured by Thrivent as that just seems to be the prudent thing to do.
- Technical inspections of the cars will not be required for the race because it is not our job to judge.
- Ticket sales will be limited so that the first two rows of seats can remain empty.
- While cars are not allowed to pass during a yellow flag, the crowd will be allowed to pass the peace during any lull in racing.
- Crews will only add fuel during pit stops as there is no reason to change tires when the old ones are still good enough.
- If any vocal music is used during the race, it must not end until all possible verses have been sung.
- The crowd will be asked to stand (as they are able) every ten minutes and to remain standing for forty-five seconds before being seated again.
- When accepting the trophy, the winning driver will be required to proclaim, “Here I stand. I can do no other.”
NASCAR officials were able to say “no” to a few of the church’s requests. For example, they were unwilling to change the color of every car to match the liturgical season. The NASCAR officials also declined a followup request to “at least paint the doors red.”
When asked if this race will become a standard part of the NASCAR season a spokesperson commented that this was under discussion. They went on to explain that, “The major obstacle seems to be that the Lutherans want assurances that they can have their same seats each time they attend a race.”
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Edited on August 2, 2017