WASHINGTON — During Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, NASCAR great Darrell Waltrip shared his Christian testimony with the thousands gathered, including Barack and Michelle Obama and the Dalai Lama, stating that he thought he was once a pretty good person, but “good people” go to Hell without Christ.
Waltrip, a NASCAR Hall of Fame recipient with 84 wins, spoke about the importance of coming to Christ and becoming a new creature before approximately 4,000 attendees, which hailed from 170 countries worldwide. He spent most of his talk sharing his story of how God changed his life from being a man that struggled with pride and alcoholism, to a person who now is humble and lives for Christ and not himself.
“This is what people said about me: They said I was brash, ruthless, pushy, cocky, conceited, aloof, boastful, arrogant and just downright annoying,” Waltrip said, speaking of his life over 30 years ago. “And I’ve got to tell you, those were people that liked me, so you can imagine what people that didn’t like me had to say about me.”
He stated that his wife Stevie tried to get him to go to church, but he would tell her that he didn’t have the time.
But a serious crash during the 1983 Daytona 500 became the turning point for Waltrip as he realized that he could have died that day—without Christ.
“When I finally came to or woke up, I realized that that wreck had knocked me unconscious,” he explained. “It scared the Hell out of me, and I mean that literally. I realized that I could have been killed that day. What if I’d lost my life right there that day at Daytona? What would I have done? Would I have gone to Heaven, or would have I gone to Hell?”
“I thought I was a pretty good guy, but folks, let me tell you something. Good guys go to Hell,” he continued. “If you don’t know Jesus as your lord and savior, if you don’t have a relationship [with Him], if He’s not the master of your life, if you’ve never gotten on your knees and asked Him to forgive you of your sins, [and] you’re just a pretty good guy or a pretty good gal, you’re going to go to Hell. Think about that. I did.”
After the incident, Waltrip began going to church, and the pastor, Cortez Cooper, began ministering to him on a personal level.
“I got down off my high horse [and] got down on my knees. And Dr. Cortez Cooper and Stevie and I prayed that the Lord would come into my life and forgive me of my sins, and be my lord and savior,” he recalled. “And that was the greatest day of my life. That changed everything.”
Waltrip told his wife that night as they drove home that he felt like a “new man” and that he had been born again.
“When the Lord comes into your life, you’re going to be different. You have to be different,” he declared to those gathered. “If He comes into your life and you’re not different, you better go back and try it again, because the Lord changes you.”
The NASCAR champion and regular commentator on SPEED told the thousands listening that while it is hard for him to look back at the way he used to be, he is thankful for how Christ has changed his life.
“The good news is, I’m not that way anymore,” Waltrip said, receiving applause. “[And like me], you’ve got to get off your high horse and get on your knees and ask for forgiveness. He’s waiting there for you.”