Boilermaker retiree brings ministry to auto racing

L-105 member keeps pact with God

IN LATE 1999, John Roberts faced a life-changing decision. After being diagnosed with Hepatitis C years earlier, he needed a liver transplant to survive. The retired Local 105 (Piketon, Ohio) member said he made a pact with God — if God would see him through the transplant, Roberts vowed to “spend the rest of my time serving Him.” That service would include bringing his faith to the new Kentucky Speedway, which was to open in 2000.

In the 11 plus years since his surgery, Roberts has not forgotten his promise. He co–founded and for many years served as director of the Kentucky Raceway Ministries. KRM is an inter-denominational group of volunteers sponsored by area churches. The group operates comfort stations for racing fans and sets up areas in the campgrounds for religious services and activities for children and adults.

Roberts has spearheaded the growth and development of KRM, obtaining sponsors and getting approval to bring the ministries to the track. The group is now affiliated with the National Fellowship of Raceway Ministries.

Roberts stepped down as the KRM director after the 2010 season in order to serve as the raceway’s chaplain but still remains actively engaged with the organization. He also serves as the local contact for Motor Racing Outreach, NASCAR’s traveling ministry.

Amidst the thunder and intensity of major racing events, Roberts and his fellow volunteers quietly go about their ministries, offering inspiration and sharing their faith. And in Roberts’ case — keeping a promise made years ago.

(Some information for this story courtesy of The Cincinnati Enquirer/Kevin Kelly.)

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