'Pave the Track in Prayer':
Chaplain Dale Tyre holds prayer walk at Greenville-Pickens Speedway as racing season begins
By Karen Brewer
“It’s not about me, and it just humbles me for people to show support,” Dale Tyre told The Christian View magazine
of the inaugural ‘Pave the Track in Prayer’ prayer walk held at the
Greenville-Pickens Speedway the morning of Saturday, February 11, 2017,
one week before the start of the racing season. Participants include adults of all ages and youth on bicycles and young children on tricycles.
Prior to walking around the track, the crowd gathered at the pit gate, and Tyre, the speedway Chaplain, thanked everyone for coming and prayed with the group. “Lord, we thank you for today. We thank you for everybody that showed up. We would just like for you to bless everybody that comes through the gates and attends a race here this year. I know that, for every race, there is one winner, and there are many others that don’t win. I ask if you would have the winners be humble in victory and have the other racers gracious in defeat, and just whatever happens, whether it’s good or whether it’s bad, I ask for them to handle it in a godly manner, Lord. Thank you for everything you do for me and for allowing me to do this. In Jesus’ holy name I pray, Amen.”
Dale’s wife, Marie, had been involved with a couple of prayer walks elsewhere and suggested to those gathered to pray as they felt led when walking by any area on the track. “You could pray for the safety of the drivers, and you could pray for the safety of the people in the stands,” she added, “just whatever the Spirit impresses on you to do.”
Dale’s sister, Sherry Bachmann, attended the prayer walk with her husband, Scott. “Dale’s history at this track goes way back,” she told The Christian View. “Our Dad, David Tyre, who passed away several years ago, was a huge race fan. He (Dale) grew up here, basically. His roots are very deep in racing.”
“Dale has been involved with Motor Racing Outreach Association (MRO) for four or five years,” said Marie. “He kept telling me, ‘I don’t know where God wants to use me.’ And I asked him, ‘What are you passionate about?’ He said, ‘You know I love racing.’ I said, ‘So, you don’t think they need Jesus in the pits?’ And then I went to Chaplain training in Lincolnton, North Carolina for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and I met one of the Chaplains at Bristol, and I got his card and brought it home and gave it to Dale, and so it began. I’m not really sure how he found out about MRO, but the training is a good opportunity to network and meet other Chaplains from other racetracks, speedways. This (prayer walk) was something that one other chaplain had done. His name is Rob, and he had organized something very similar at his track.” After Dale was officially named Chaplain at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, Marie said, he felt led to do this and had it approved and organized it. “He’s got a lot of support from the racing community,” she said, “because he’s been coming here all of his life, and down in the pit area I think this is the third season. He has established a rapport with a lot of people. They’re seeing that he really does care about their future and about them, not only as racers but them individually. I fully support him.”
“I’ve always been a race fan, all of my life,” said Dale. “My Daddy brought us over here over 50 years ago, when it was still dirt. I guess I’ve been in research on the racing side of it all of my life. Then, when she and I met, she got me involved on the spiritual side. I wanted to get involved, somehow, but I didn’t know how, and she went to training for the Billy Graham Rapid Response team, and a Chaplain for Bristol was there. And she came back and said, ‘Have you ever thought about that?’ I said, ‘No, I hadn’t.’ I got to checking around. There are three or four different motor racing outreach organizations. I settled on this one, and went to the training, came over here, and started. They didn’t have a Chaplain. They just had somebody that was doing the praying. I talked to him, and he let me do it when he wasn’t here, every once in awhile. And then I called the President of the Motor Racing Outreach and asked him what I needed to do to become a Chaplain. And he said, ‘You’ve got to get ordained.’ And so, I went to my Pastor, and I told him, ‘I feel called, that this is where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to do. So, I got ordained, and became a Chaplain, and then I went to the fellow that had been doing the praying, and I told him, ‘I’m ordained, I’m a Chaplain now, and I feel the call to be the track Chaplain.’ He said, ‘If that’s what you need to do.’ I said, ‘I guess we need to speak to the fellow in charge.’ I told him, and he said, ‘Sure, no problem whatsoever.’ That was the last race of the year in 2015. Last year was my first full year as the Chaplain, and this is starting my second year. It’s just humbling to me that I am blessed with this opportunity. When I came here, I didn’t know a soul. I had heard about a lot of them, but I had never met any of them. Now, I have a lot of good friends, and I pray with some of them as a group. I pray with all of them as they all line up and qualify. One at a time, I’ll go down the line, and I’ll pray with them. And then, I’ll do the invocation. And I’m available if anybody goes to the hospital, but, so far, I haven’t had to. We didn’t have anybody at all transported last year to the hospital."
“We go to the race tracks and put up resource tents and minister to families at the race track,” said Kristy, who noted that they had met Dale while at a Chaplain training in another state.
Another participant in Saturday’s prayer walk was Tonya Friday. “Dale invited me,” she said. “He’s my co-worker. I don’t know much about racing, but I came out mostly because of the respect I have for Dale.”
Danny Mullinix, another participant in the prayer walk, recalled fond memories of coming to the Greenville-Pickens Speedway track as a young boy in the 1950’s and 1960’s. “The first time I ever came out here was ’56,” he told The Christian View. “My Dad would bring me out here. After the race, we would come down in the pits, and they would load kids in those race cars and drive us around the track. It was so cool, a pretty neat thing. Also, I played in the infield with Dale Earnhardt. The creek used to run all of the way across. His Dad (Ralph Earnhardt) raced out here, and, when we were kids, we would come out here and play on the creek bank. We used to jump in the creek and get wet and get a whipping.” He recalled that the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr., when an adult and renowned racecar driver himself, often returned to the Greenville-Pickens Speedway during the time of the Upper South Carolina State Fair and sign autographs for fans.
Ashley Granata, one of the racers at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, also participated in the inaugural prayer walk. “I got to know Mr. Dale through being here at the track and his MRO, and I support him,” she told The Christian View. “He supports us drivers. I love everything about this track and the family atmosphere of it and comradery among all of us. I thought I would come out and start the season right, come out and support Mr. Dale and get a good start to the season. Mr. Dale was one of the first ones I met when I first started racing and didn’t know too many people.” Granata said that last year was her first full year of racing, but that she drove in a couple of races the year before. “This will be my second year,” she said. “I grew up around it and enjoyed it. I’ve always liked competing. I love it. The group out here is really good. They’ve helped me out, getting started, because there are not many females in it. It’s a good family here. We all watch out for each other. Everybody’s got their kids in the pits, and everybody watches out for everybody’s kids.” Granata teaches animal science and agriculture at the Pickens County Career and Technology Center and encourages her students to get involved in coming to watch her race. “It gives them something good to do on Saturday nights, and they’re not getting in trouble,” she said. “We don’t have to worry about the youth being out, doing who knows what. It gives them a good spot to be and a good atmosphere, a competitive atmosphere, but a good one.”
Dale prayed with the group for a second time, after the prayer walk was completed. “Lord, thank you for today, and thank you for the turnout. Thank you for everything you do for each and every one of us. Thank you for blessing us with beautiful weather, to come out here. Again, I ask you to protect everybody that comes through these gates. Whether they’re watching racing, officiating, or whatever, be with them and protect them while they’re on these grounds. Most of all, we thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross for our sins. In Jesus’ holy name I pray, Amen.”
He plans for the prayer walk to be an annual event before the start of each racing season.