To some people, a go-kart race means the roar of engines, a spray of dust and lots of excitement. But for Carroll County’s Todd Shaw, the founder of On Track Ministry, the real thrill comes with in sharing the love of Cod with drivers, track workers and their families. Previously a NHRA Chaplain, Shaw turned his attention to go-kart racing because he has a “passion for working with teenagers.”
“I was a youth pastor for 18 years,” Shaw said. “I always prayed, ‘God, how can reach I reach more teens for You?’ and God said, ‘Why don’t you just go to them?’” So we became missionaries to the mission field of karting. “We try to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We build relationships first by serving of the racers and their families; you have to earn the right to share the Gospel.”
A Christian outreach ministry, On Track Ministry travels to go kart races up and down the East Coast and the Mid-West covering some of the nations largest 2 and 4 cycle go-kart racing events. Working with the World Karting Association, the American Kart Racing Association and the Florida Championship Series, Shaw and other chaplains with On Track Ministry covers about 24 races a year.
On Sunday mornings, Shaw holds trackside Worship services with attendance reaching over 125 people at the larger events. He also has performed marriage ceremonies and memorial services for racers. But Shaw’s greatest thrill comes in knowing that in the eight years that he has been doing this ministry; over 250 people have received Jesus Christ through the ministry.
“I do not race, but I do love racing,” Shaw states.
Today’s racing go-karts can go 70 mph and on larger tracks, like the Speedway in Daytona, the karts reach speeds up to 125 mph. During the races, Shaw can be seen standing beside the track ready to respond if a driver needs help or if there is accident.
A young driver recalls the time when Todd and his wife Lisa came to his aid: “They are always cheering you on! They always tell you to keep on trying when your kart isn’t doing well. When they talk about Jesus it makes you feel special and you want to be more like a follower of Jesus. I met Todd and Lisa at South Bend, Indiana when I wrecked. Since then, they have always been there for me.”
Mart Anderson, director of operations for Ocala Gran Prix in Florida, said he was a little skeptical of the ministry when he first heard about it.
“I was unsure of it at first,” Anderson said. ‘I thought; well, religious karting. Motor sports religion. But I was really impressed with Todd. During the race itself, when we have so many young kids racing, if something goes wrong with kart, kids get upset. Todd is right there. He calms then down. He stymies the situation directly.”
Anderson recalled one incident when Todd broke up a fight between two teenage boys.
“As soon as they got off the track, an argument ensued,” Anderson said. “They were pushing and shoving and Todd jumped in and within two minutes they were laughing and smiling. It saved their racing for the day.”
Quilly and Harriett Andries also have been impacted by On Track Ministry. While watching one of their boys race at the Homestead Miami Speedway; Quilly had severe chest pains and had to be rushed to a local hospital. He was diagnosed with a collapsed lung. Quilly’s wife was in St. Petersburg at the time. But Quilly wasn’t alone. Todd’s wife, Lisa, went to the hospital with the other family members.
“It meant a lot to me,” Quilly said. “I was worried about my son being at the track by himself. Lisa and Todd made sure that he had everything he needed.”
When he is not at the races, Shaw spends his time speaking at churches and corporate events. With years of experience in training leaders in and out of the church, Todd has the know-how for motivating people to action. The principles he teaches are tried and true methods, ones that many are still living out today. Pat Williams, vice president of the Orlando Magic, cited Todd’s skill in leading and encouraging others by including many contributions in his book Coaching Your Kids To Be Leaders.
Todd is the author of Out of the Box and loving it, his book helps bring into focus ways to build ministries using God-given gifts and characteristics unique to each person. This easy to follow guide can help anyone discover and create a personal plan to reach others for Christ. This engaging and motivating book brings new meaning to the Great Commission!
For more information or to contact Todd, visit www.ontrackministry.com