Divine Mercy at the Drag Strip
Growing up as a young boy in the 70’s, I was raised near a 1/4 mile race track near Wisconsin
Dells. My dad owned a bar called Norb’s Resort. Every Saturday night, the sound of stock cars
racing would fill the air. Afterwards, local track star Dick Trickle would stop in for a beer or two.
So, I would watch the races, with the thrill of finishes, spin outs, and even a crash or two. Over
the years, instead of football legends, I’ve followed Nascar names like Keselowski, Waltrip,
Wallace, Busch and Sauter. Humpy Wheeler and Charlotte Motor Speedway versus Mile High
Several years ago, I went to a local track to watch the races. Like most Midwestern tracks,
they’re out in the country, surrounded by woods. I always go early, to watch what they call the
“time trials.” To me, it is more entertaining than the racing itself. Cars going as fast as they can,
to improve their starting position in the semi-final heats.
On this particular night, I decided to sit at the far end of the track, closest to turn 1 and 2.
Track’s are really oval in shape, so the cars come down the straightaway, and go into turn 1
and 2, which would then turn into the straight away. The cars would then go into turn 3 and 4 to
another straight away.
As I was enjoying myself, watching the time trials, I felt a sudden urge to take the crucifix I was
wearing around my neck, and to make the sign of the cross towards turn 1 and 2 were I was
seated. It came on suddenly, and I felt almost in a panic to do so as quick as possible. The
crucifix has a special name, it is called the Pardon Crucifix.
A minute or so went by, and I was trying to make sense of what had just happened. Praying for
someone one or something is not that unusual, it happens to many, but the need to bless an
event, or race track for that matter, is not a common urge, not for me, anyway.
Not more than a couple minutes had passed, and another car came racing down the straight
away. As he came to turn 1, going into the oval at around 70 to 80 mph, his steering column
suddenly snapped. He had no control over his steering.
Instead of being able to turn the wheels, his car hurled head on into the wall out of control. The
car was traveling so fast, it flipped the car over the wall. It all happened in the blink of an eye.
I, like everyone else, watched in amazement of what had just happened. Not knowing the fate
of the driver. I presumed he was dead. It did not seem possible that a person could survive
such a crash. Cars have roll bars inside, but the impact was too great.
After the ambulance and tow trucks rushed to the scene, several minutes passed. All were
waiting for an announcement on the status of the driver. After 15 minutes or so, the tow truck
lifted the car out of the woods. The impact had crushed the car so that it appeared to be only 2
to 3 feet in height. Way too small for a human being to be inside the car. I was sure the driver
had been tragically crushed by the impact.
Then, miraculously, the driver was lifted over the wall by the rescue crew, and began to walk. It
was an unbelievable site. Never in a million years would I have thought that a person inside
that car would be alive. He was, and started to walk as he waved to the crowd.
The mercy of God has no bounds. St. Faustina tells us that His mercy is complete by words,
prayer and deeds. Without all three, we do not reflect the fullness of His mercy.
I am so thankful that I attended the races that night, and reacted to the inspiration of the Holy
Spirit, to bless the corner of the track with my crucifix, moments before the crash.
Had I not been willing to do so, without hesitation, the results of the accident may have been
different. I shudder to think about years later.
That cool fall night, a father, a husband, and a soul walked away from certain death. A similar
type of crash that killed a famous driver years ago named Dale Earnhardt in 2001, in the final
lap of the Daytona 500.
I am so thankful that God gave me the chance to participate in His mercy. A wonderful
reminder that small deeds of faith can glorify God’s mercy.
Weeks later, I emailed the race track to tell them what happened to me that night. I never heard
back. I hope it was passed onto the driver. A random deed by a stranger in a crowd, may have
helped save his life.
“I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first — by deed, the
second — by word, the third — by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of
mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me” (742).
[resources: Pardon Crucifix]