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Indy 500 chaplains on a wheel and a prayer

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At speeds of 200 miles an hour and with the wall just inches away from their car, sometimes the only thing IndyCar drivers have is a wheel and a prayer.

That’s where the IndyCar Ministry comes in.

“We pray with drivers, we pray with teams, we pray with our officials because we’re ever reminded this is a dangerous sport,” said Bob Hills, the ministry’s director.

Bob said faith in the fast lane can be difficult, especially when they lose drivers like the beloved Dan Wheldon.

“Dan will be on the minds of our people again this year as he has since we lost Dan,” Bob said. “Of recent times that’s probably been the most impactful emotionally (and) spiritually of anything I’ve seen happen to our racing family and to our fans.”

Father Glen O’Conner is a man of the cloth—the checkered cloth, that is. He’s one of three chaplains on race day. There will be several early morning services and three Catholic Masses.

“The IRL Ministry has just been incredible for what they’ve done,” O’Conner said. “(It) enables us to not only to have Mass at all the tracks, but to bring God to the racing fraternity.”

He said the drivers and their families understand the power of prayer.

“With their faith life in order things are going to be OK,” he said.

If you ask Bob and his chaplains what their job is like, they’ll say it’s like heaven on earth with a lot of horsepower.

“I tell people if you love racing and you love God, this is the best place to be.”