JT Marsh won’t have much time to watch Saturday’s Quaker State 400 presented by Wal-Mart at the Kentucky Speedway.
Instead, Marsh will be busy spreading the gospel to those attending the NASCAR race at the Kentucky Speedway.
Marsh serves as executive director of the Kentucky Raceway Ministries and has been on site since Monday preparing for the three big races that began Thursday and concludes Sunday.
The ministry began prayer sessions throughout the raceway Monday and fed the staff on Tuesday. Marsh estimates volunteers will put 14-15 hours per day. Marsh estimated that approximately 67-70 Kentucky Baptist Convention churches support the ministry. Marsh added that four different religious organizations and associations from West Virginia and North Carolina are actively involved with the ministry.
Marsh said the ministry is a labor of love and is “where God wants me to be.”
“It’s way too much work if I didn’t enjoy it,” Marsh said. “All of our guys are out there sharing Christ throughout the speedway. I didn’t seem like it’s been 19 years. It seems like a blink of an eye. For me and a lot of volunteers, it’s where we spend our vacation away from our regular jobs.”
The ministry utilizes between 150-200 volunteers who will serve on various teams this week. The volunteers will staff the Kid Zone areas, guest services, transportation zones, employee welfare team, the evangelism team campground, and cook areas. They will be handing out Bibles, hot wheels, bottled water, and homemade cookies. The main focus of the ministry is “to meet the physical and spiritual needs if race fans and speedway employees” this week.
‘We do a lot of serving evangelism-type ministry,” Marsh said. “We feed and take care of the employees and staff at the speedway, we have ministries at the campground, work the information booths at the speedway, provide ADA transportation for the handicapped and people who can’t get around and we’ll have chaplains in the grandstands and the care center.”
The ministry was birthed from a small promise Keepers bible study group looking for ways to venture into various ministry possibilities about 19 years ago. It was during that time, Kentucky Speedway was in its infinity.
“We were looking for an outreach and the track was being built,” Marsh said. “A couple of us were (race) guys and we started following the speedway a little bit and have some people come on and help us with a ministry at the speedway.”
The group wasn’t present at the initial race held at the speedway, but have been a consistent presence ever since. Marsh admitted when the group started, “we really didn’t really know a lot about it.”
“A couple of us were at the first race with a couple of cases of water, a 10x10 tent and El Camino,” Marsh recalled. “It was where we began and we were off and running. .. I wish I did a better job of tracking our ministry but we didn’t know what it was going to turn into. We give thanks to God. We took off and he blessed it to where it is now. We’ve added a lot of value to the race and the events going on around the race. We’ve learned a lot.”
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.