BRISTOL, Tenn. — Around 1 p.m. today, thousands of fans at Bristol Motor Speedway will stand silently — as millions more tune in on TV — while the Rev. Mike Rife utters a brief prayer, minutes before engines roar to life for the Food City 500.
The pre-race invocation is a NASCAR tradition as revered as the performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” and the command to start engines. Rife, senior pastor of the Vansant Church of Christ in Vansant, Va., has provided every Food City 500 invocation since 1992. It’s a rare opportunity to reach well beyond his typical Sunday congregation of between 250 and 300.
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