CFDb Interviews Aaron Schwartzbart ~ Race Car Driver/Rap Artist/Preacher
= > What inspired you to begin race car driving?
I was a homicidal maniac whenever I got a steering wheel in my hands from day one. I could honestly say along with Lady Gaga I was born that way. I was living proof that just being born that way doesn’t make it right. The first time I drove in a real race (NASCAR in 1990), I was like a fish experiencing water for the first time. Overnight I went from public enemy number one to being a hero for driving furiously. (2 Ki 9:20)
= > Were you a Christian when you first began racing cars? If not, please tell us when in your racing career you did become a Christian.
I was a heathen when I was doing illegal street racing and I was still a heathen when I started in NASCAR. There were a couple of defining moments. A cop pulled me over doing 90 mph in 35 mph city surface street traffic (that was my typical daily commute at the time). He asked me if I liked TV dinners. I said “I guess so”. He said “That’s good. You’re going to be eating one in jail tonight.” If not for that cop, I wouldn’t have ended up in NASCAR. If not for that cop, I wouldn’t have gotten saved. If not for that cop, there would be no MOTORGOSPEL Ministries. I’d like to find that cop – and shake his hand. I won my first NASCAR race on July 4th 1990. It was the first time my parents and siblings came to see me drive. I had the slowest car in my heat but there was a Christian friend in the stands praying for me and I won. I was essentially an atheist at the time but that was an attention-getter. Fast forward another year and some Christian friends laid hands on me and prayed for me. As an atheist, I stood there stone cold sober as a judge and while they prayed, I had electricity go up and down my back for about a minute and a half. That was an attention getter as well. After a few years of experiences like that (approximately Nov 1993, I committed my life to Christ.)
= > How did the Motor Gospel Ministries begin and please tell us more about it.
I entered Talbot Seminary in 1998. I was determined to get down to some thankless, sacrificial ministry. I put racing on the alter, believing that I enjoyed it too much and was too passionate about it for that to be my ministry. A calling from God Most High is so much more than just a hobby or what we enjoy doing. Ask John the Baptist. Ask the Prophet Jeremiah. Ask Jesus. So I prayed “God use me to delight Your heart no matter what the cost, no matter how sacrificial, no matter how thankless.” and in response to that prayer, He called me to drive the Fastest Pulpit in the West! It was so good and pleasing to me to receive that call that I didn’t believe it for a long time. I thought surely God doesn’t want me to enjoy my call so much. I expected His answer to my prayer to be something much more sacrificial. HE IS SO COOL! It took a few years of amazing confirmations but He made it very clear that He has called me to do that which I love doing.
Here are a few specifics about the ministry:
1) Our threefold mission is to love God, love our neighbors and make a joyful noise with the John 3:16 car.
2) I compete in the Fastest Pulpit in the West in the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). Together with a wonderful team, I and the LS1-powered Porsche have won back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012 in TTA in the NASA SoCal region.
3) I am the chaplain for the NASA SoCal region (and help out with other regions as they have need) in addition to my evangelistic call with MOTORGOSPEL Ministries. This involves leading worship and preaching on Sunday mornings at the track and doing other spiritual care such as hospital visitation and grief counseling when drivers get hurt or killed.
4) I am a driving instructor with NASA. I teach people how to safely do 150 mph in traffic at racetracks throughout Southern California under the auspices of NASA.
5) I operate an anti-street-racing campaign in cooperation with the state of California and local law enforcement. As a former street racer and current champion, I am kind of uniquely qualified to address the issues associated with youthful automotive offenders. I wasn’t saved til the age of 30. I was very wild when I was younger. I was likely the only guy in my graduating class at Talbot Seminary that ever committed fornication and reckless driving simultaneously (prior to meeting Jesus of course). Consequently, there’s not a lot that shocks me in the world in which I minister.
6) I do parades, car shows and autograph sessions with racing themed posters, tracts etc.
7) I teach autoshop to homeschoolers and am getting a lot of inquiries from parents that want me to get a credential to teach their homeschool children to drive (not racing, just getting their licenses for the street)
= > What is the Don’t Be Caught Dead Street Racing Campaign? What led to this campaign?
Organizations such as NASA have the infrastructure and expertise to offer virtually anybody with a car the opportunity to drive relatively safely at racing speeds on some of the most famous race tracks in America. There events are very affordable. There are enough tracks and regions that most anywhere in the country is only a few hours from NASA events. Unfortunately, there are still kids in the streets killing themselves and killing innocent bystanders because there’s nobody leading them by the hand to the racetrack. Somehow, despite the existence of organizations such as NASA, the kids aren’t aware of the opportunities or their afraid to try or whatever. The Don’t Be Caught Dead Street Racing campaign is MOTORGOSPEL Ministries’ response to that observation that kids are either not aware of better choices like NASA or need some encouragement to make better choices. Within our limited means, we do whatever we can to not only inform people of better choices but also to encourage them to make better choices. That can mean standing in front of Wal-Mart giving out NASA pamphlets or it can mean something like Street Racer The Music Video that we hope will send a gritty challenge to youthful automotive offenders to not be punks like I was.
I suppose what led to it was the realization that I should have been dead or in prison years ago from my automotive antics and that if God kept me around for some reason long before I knew Him and called me to drive the Fastest Pulpit in the West, then there must be some part of that call that involves me giving back to the community and helping the cops who were my enemies prior to getting saved.
= > How do you think the “Street Racer” Music Video premiering on national TV on New Years Eve 2013 will impact street racers? What is the true goal of the campaign?
I have no illusions. I know that young people are bombarded by all kinds of media and all kinds of messages. I make no promises to myself or to God about whether the video will change 1 life or 1 million lives. Our job as Christians is to faithfully invest what God has given us to invest what God has given us to invest and to trust Him for the results. (Mt 25:14-29) That said, if you’re looking for numbers, I would be tickled if we got 1000 new drivers nationwide coming to the track telling us that they gave up street racing because of the video. I would love to see souls get saved as a result of the video although that’s not the primary goal of the video. As a man called by the God of sincerity to evangelize, I’m not big on ulterior motives or hidden messages. If and when I make a video aimed at saving souls, it will be very obvious that it’s about saving souls. Street Racer The Music Video is about street racing. Lastly, given that MOTORGOSPEL Ministries never ever asks for donations but we do sell good products at a fair price to help subsidize our activities, I would be happy if the video motivated people to download my rap single Street Racer or buy my theology book No Hidden Agenda or buy some MOTORGOSPEL championship T-shirts.
It will be aired on NRB network, JCTV, Parables TV and icfn tv.
For more information on the Premier video – http://streetracermusicvideo.com/
= > Can people purchase your music online? How about the music video after it premieres?
We’re giving Street Racer The Music Video away for free after it premieres at midnight on New Years Eve. Street Racer the rap single however is for sale on Itunes, Amazon and other websites that sell music online. Note that we aren’t asking for donations, we are selling the song, the T-shirts, my book etc. The money spent purchasing these products is therefore not tax deductible but it is 99 cents a click for a good cause.
= > If someone wants to have you preach at a rally or in their church, how can they get in touch with you?
Follow me on Twitter: @AaSchwartzbart
Media Inquiries: contact Greg Robbins at firstname.lastname@example.org
= > How can others learn more about you and your ministry?
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