In the wake of the press related to the New York to Los Angeles Cannonball record in 2013 I got a lot of questions about risk, safety, “why?” and reconciling such a strange quest with my personal spirituality and relationship with God. These are great questions and while I spent some time on them then, I wanted to expound a bit more here.
The “Why?” question is one of the hardest and most enjoyable to grapple with. The itch came from all of the historic cultural references and to the intrinsic joy of getting out on an open road in a fast car. As I contemplate putting the experience into a book, that is actually what I want to focus on.
For me, this was perfect. It was a challenge that appealed to the car enthusiast, competitor, and problem solver in me. I felt that the skills and talents that I had lent themselves well to overcoming the obstacles to success. It also seemed like something that would appeal to the audience that I hang out with on a daily basis in the exotic car business. The reality of it is sort of shallow and deep at the same time. Like Everest, a 4 minute mile, or a chicken across the road – you do it because it is out there. It is an idea that can permeate everything about you and potentially help to define who you are.
I aim for Christianity and my relationship with God to be the first thing that people see when they are around me but as we live in this world and pursue different things, this was one of those personal mountains and a resumé item that really mattered to me. I have truly enjoyed the ride. I would offer this to anyone looking for a personal challenge or quest – if you can find something in your life that you are able to commit this fully to and pursue as hard as I was able to chase after this record – you have an opportunity to be the happiest person on Earth. Go for it!
I do realize that this might not be sufficient justification for the risks for most observers. I am pleased,though, to say that this one of those few life experiences that you can look back on and honestly say that it was worth all of the difficulty, sacrifice, stress, and hard work. I got everything out of it that I wanted to and it has truly been a blast to meet everyone else associated with the record and the history of cross country driving. As I raise my young son, I hope to inspire him to find a similar challenge in his life that he can dream of, pursue, and achieve someday.
God calls us to respect life and authority. Romans 13 is clear to “let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” This is obviously not an instance where I stayed particularly close to that straight and narrow path. I am not sure that God loses a lot of sleep over speed limit violations but I do get that there are not many righteous outlaws out there. We took countless steps to minimize interference from and with law enforcement. While the original spirit of Cannonball was very much to protest the imposition of a national 55 mph speed limit, that was not our aim. I always found the movies, stories, and idea of a cross country road trip extremely intriguing and this trip was a method of expressing my automotive enthusiasm.
The argument about safety during the drive is similarly un-winnable. The only defense that I really have is to say that this was really some of the safest feeling driving that I have ever done. We scheduled the drive in such a way to minimize the number of other drivers on the road and we completed the drive without distraction. I have never been so engaged in a task for so long. I feel much more guilty for the times that I read a text message, have a spirited phone call in the car, or drive when I am truly too tired to do so safely. It doesn’t excuse the tactics but for me it makes it much more understandable how we were able to make the trip without mishap.
1 Peter 5:2-3 says, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” All of this has been an excellent platform. My wife and I try to volunteer a lot with our church youth group. Being a Lamborghini owner, exotic car salesman, and holding a speeding world record make it very easy to get the attention of a very impressionable audience. I am certainly not perfect but my testimony and experience have served me well to counsel and encourage these kids.
It really comes down to how you approach it. Matthew 6 gives us a lot of guidance here. I am always happy to show my cars to people, talk to people about them, give rides, and never take things too seriously. I can’t tell people my treasure is in heaven if my life in consumed with obsessing over the cleanliness and perfection of a worldly possession. I get that even that has a fine line between acceptability and idolatry but I do my best.
The car business is not the holiest of industries for sure. It is a challenge to maintain an approach of honesty and virtue in such a transactional business. There are always examples of what King Solomon means in Proverbs saying “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” I certainly fail at times but that remains the goal. It is definitely a primed mission field. A big part of maintaining a righteous approach to a worldly profession is how you treat your income. Tithing and charitable giving has been a wonderful part of my relationship to and marriage to Megan. Malachi 3:10 says “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'” I don’t use that as any sort of prosperity doctrine, simply as a method to maintain perspective in the pursuit of professional success and money.
My unending goal is to use whatever vocational and recreational platform that I have to provide glory to God and show the world what He means to me. I hope that it provides some light and encouragement to the people whom I encounter and work with. If there is ever anything that I can help you with, please do not hesitate to ask. It is a discussion that I always enjoy having.