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NASCAR Chaplain Shares Words of Wisdom with Grand Canyon University Student Athletes

by Staff
March 17, 2009
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PHOENIX, ( -- A self-proclaimed "stick-and- ball" kind of guy, Tim Griffin was a stranger to the world of NASCAR racing before joining the ranks of his colleagues at Motor Racing Outreach (MRO) ten years ago. The five chaplains of Motor Racing Outreach, a 20-year-old Christ-based organization, travel across the country, delivering sermons, car-side prayers, counseling after accidents and anything else the drivers and crews need while on the road.

Photo: NASCAR Chaplain, Tim Griffin, delivers sermon to a packed house at Grand Canyon University -- Photo by Ruth Nsubuga

"These guys and gals are on the road 38 weekends out of the year, and the pressures that come with that can often be too much to handle," said Griffin, lead chaplain for the Sprint Cup Series. "All the more reason for us to offer our service, and help these folks stay connected to their families and values while they're away."

Griffin spoke recently to students at Grand Canyon University -- a leading Phoenix-based private, intentionally Christian university -- where a large concentration of the auditorium was filled by student athletes. During his sermon, Griffin made poignant parallels between the lives of NASCAR racers and college student athletes.

Griffin's son, Taylor, is a freshman student at GCU, playing on the school's first men's volleyball team. He sat, along with his teammates and fellow students, as Griffin Sr. spoke to the group about the pressures of performance, and drove home the uplifting message that on the field or off, they're never alone.

Griffin's charisma and energy were infectious as he shared the story of the first time he ever climbed into a race car, reflecting on what it was like to careen around a race track at 160 miles per hour, and the lessons he learned on the track that day.

"I was shocked to learn that the crew chief sitting next to me was not going to be controlling the vehicle in any way, but instead, it was all up to me -- the guy who had never before driven anything but the hunk of junk I owned that barely hits 80," said Griffin. "When he reached across the seat to yank the wheel back to where it was supposed to be to avoid a crash, I was reminded of my relationship with God, in that, we're never alone."

Clearly a veteran when it comes to connecting with his audience, the energetic Griffin kept GCU students engaged and very entertained. When referencing his celebrity encounters on the track, he admitted to confusing the music group Outkast with the Black- Eyed Peas -- a quip that earned boisterous laughter from a fully-captivated audience.

NASCAR season is revving up, as is Griffin's weekend calendar. He's got a busy schedule ahead, which includes chaplain duties at more than 40 races. But for now, Griffin is enjoying being a spectator and a dad, watching his son spike balls at opponents on the volleyball court.

About Grand Canyon University
Founded in 1949, Grand Canyon University is a traditional regionally accredited, private, Christian university offering campus-based and online bachelor's and master's degree programs through the Ken Blanchard College of Business, College of Education, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and College of Liberal Arts. The Phoenix-based school is ranked as having one of the top online education programs by OEDb (Online Education Database). GCU emphasizes individual attention for both traditional undergraduate students as well as the working professional. For more information visit

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