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God, Grace, and the Roar of Thunder

“I get to get in a race car go as fast as I possibly can and make a living doing it,” says Blake Koch, a NASCAR driver in the nationwide series. His love of racing started as a boy with motocross. “Dirt bikes was the love of my life when I was growing up. From the time I was 13 to17 years old, I was on the road with my family racing dirt bikes.”

He was raised in a Christian home but says his relationship with God was a distant second to his love for motocross. “Before I’d even take off, I’d say a prayer on the line. You know bow my head, but I really didn’t have that personal one-on-one relationship. It almost felt like, ‘Now is the only time I need You God.’  You know what I mean? ‘Alright I need You, I’m about to go risk my life but when I’m done I’ll talk to You next week when I’m back on that starting line.’”

After several tears to his ACL, Blake’s motocross career was over. But his stepfather suggested a new hobby. “He’s like, ‘Hey Blake if I buy this racecar do you want to drive it?’ I was like, ‘It looks kind of boring. I don’t know if that’s my thing. I’ve always been against four wheels. It’s always two wheels – Motocross.’”

“I drove it, fell in love with it and won my first race pretty soon after first driving that truck and people started telling me, ‘Man you’re really good at this. You’re a natural. You can make something from it.’”

“When I heard that with God all things are possible and God can do anything He wants to do, I really took it to heart. So when I had my first shot to race in NASCAR, I really wasn’t that nervous. I didn’t even know how to shift. I didn’t have any experience in a manual transmission because my racecars back home were automatics. I got to the track for the first time and I knew it was going to be a manual transmission, but I knew that God opened this door and fear wasn’t an option. I knew He’d take care of it. And it was good. My first time in I qualified fourth in California in the NASCAR Canon series and then they signed me full time the next year to race for them in the West series.”

Blake says he made his Christian faith a priority and put his trust in Jesus. “It’s really a personal one-on-one relationship and that really started when I was about 20 years old. I stopped quenching the Holy Spirit and started listening and reading into the Word more, studying and just really pursuing Christ.”

He says his Christian faith has helped bring stability to a career that can end in an instant. “Shortly after my wife and I got married I lost my sponsorship. There was no ride available, and I had to surrender racing. I was at a point where, ‘God open the doors You want open and shut the doors You want closed.’ Worrying does not add a single day to our lives, Jesus tells us. I know God’s going to take care of me. I know He’s going to provide my daily bread. What’s really helped me with that is surrounding myself with great people who are in the same mindset: accountability partners, having fellowship, building each other up and also speaking truth into each other’s lives.”

After a brief pit stop from racing, Blake was back in the driver’s seat. He is now sponsored by Compassion International and enthusiastically speaks about his relationship with Jesus wherever he can. Blake says, “He’s given me this platform that people listen to me and I feel like I have a great opportunity to tell people about Jesus through that.  It’s hard for me not to tell people about something I love and every response usually has Jesus involved with it.”

Blake says he keeps his life and his race car in God’s capable hands. “I have to fully surrender everything to let God work in my life. It’s not a routine. It’s not a superstitious thing that if I don’t pray I’m not going to perform. It’s all about putting that car in God’s hands. (I want) God to drive the car through my hands my feet my mind and my heart. ‘Put this car where you want it.’ That’s my prayer. And no matter what happens, I know that I’ve said that prayer and I’ve let go of everything I can do, and it’s in His hands.”

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