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Behind the Scenes at NASCAR

Network producer Brian Nelson subtly steers God to the racetrack.

When Steve Post’s life was coming unglued amid a divorce and other setbacks, the professional auto racing reporter knew who to call: Brian Nelson.

After working for several years alongside Nelson — a producer with the Motor Racing Network, Post saw a steadiness and a strong Christian example. That’s what Post needed after wandering away from the faith he had embraced in childhood.

“The challenge of traveling with NASCAR and juggling other responsibilities is overwhelming sometimes,” says Post, who has custody of his two daughters. “Brian was someone I could talk to. He has an outstanding recollection of Scripture. We’ll do Bible study and he’ll pull a verse out from memory.”

Ironically, when his associate called for prayer, Nelson himself had experienced a low point. The Fruitport, Michigan, native, who had joined Concord First Assembly after moving to the Charlotte area in 2007, wondered whether he made any spiritual inroads at work.

“You think that nobody notices or pays much attention, but apparently it made a difference to Steve,” recalls Nelson, 44. “I was at home that weekend and Steve called. I broke down and said, ‘God, You showed me the way I live my life isn’t going unnoticed.’ ” 

Prior to joining MRN, Nelson spent his professional career with Christian radio stations and in development work for a Christian school. He found himself taken aback by an environment where adultery, alcoholism, and other unbiblical behaviors often are treated as normal.

“This journey has been unbelievably humbling,” says Nelson, a father of two teenagers. “I had lived my life in a Christian bubble and had no idea what I was getting myself into.”

Yet, Nelson seeks to bring his faith to work, using opportunities to casually weave a Bible verse or a scriptural viewpoint into a conversation. He calls it small nudges in the right direction, hoping the Holy Spirit will open the listener’s mind and create a hunger to know more.

However, one of the leading ways Nelson seeks to integrate his faith and his work are the ways he does his job. That includes showing respect for his bosses and defending their decisions.

Nelson’s primary role is behind the scenes — satisfying MRN’s sponsorship obligations, developing story lines, and coordinating broadcasts while the on-air talent describes races. MRN covers most of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series, and all of its Truck Series races.

Although he grew up in a Baptist church, after college Nelson wound up attending Grand Rapids First Assembly through the influence of his wife, Tracie. The church experienced a wave of revival in the late 1990s, at the same time as Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida.

Not only did Nelson experience his spiritual baptism there, he later spent several days in First Assembly’s prayer room as he contemplated moving from a weekend job announcing races at a local track to a national level.

“Through that the Lord led me through passages in Ecclesiastes,” Nelson says. “One of the things was the verse where Solomon says the chief aim of man is that he enjoys his work and that it has meaning. I wanted to be a light in a dark spot and bring something into my occupation. That’s how the Lord led me to accept the job offer.”

Although his work keeps him on the road about half of the weekends each year, when he is at home Nelson sings with the worship team at Concord First.

IMAGE - Brian Nelson (far right) anchors Motor Racing Network's Sprint Cup Series broadcasts every week with (from left) Jeff Striegle, NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace, and Joe Moore.

Kenneth C. Walker

Kenneth C. Walker is a freelance writer, co-author, and book editor from Huntington, West Virginia. He has more than 4,500 article bylines and has written, edited, or contributed to more than 90 books.