“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven-A time to give birth and a time to die…a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance…He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart…I know that everything God does will remain forever…” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, 4, 11, 14
And the season changes for each one of us; the time is appointed. And it is appropriate, beautiful…A time for birth, healing, building up, laughter, dance, gathering, embracing, searching, finding, sewing together, silence, speaking, love, peace. And the opposites are also true.
This weekend is one of my family’s favorite times of the year. As the crispness of the fall makes its way into summer weary Texas, for years our family has planned and welcomed an annual event, synonymous to us with this fall season. Although the AAA Fall Nationals showcases the finest drag racing in the nation, and the cars and drivers provide thrilling entertainment, the most valuable and memorable experiences come from the incredible people and relationships formed over lifetimes.
Yes, there have been years of marriages, births, healings, laughter, dance, gathering, embracing, victories, travels…And the pendulum of life swings…”And the train to Jordan travels coast to coast…no baggage needed, no ticket, just faith…Just thank the Lord…”
The lyrics of Curtis Mayfield’s timeless ballad, “People Get Ready”, released in 1965, have influenced millions of listeners…inspiring, challenging, convicting, reminding its audience that there is an appointed time for everything…a time for the train to Jordan to make its run, stopping for its passengers, according to God’s appointment…but,
Early in our marriage of thirty-four years, (blissful, I might add), I had the privilege of being welcomed into an amazing sport. Billy had begun his drag racing career in a funny car in his later years of high school. While most teens engaged in the social gatherings of high school, with parties, football games, and other school events, Bill left town on Thursday or Friday to travel to a drag race, compete, and then return to Waco with the intention of attending school. (Making it there occasionally) Needless to say, being the youngster on the circuit opened up many opportunities for friendships and mentorships to develop. It was a bit unusual for a teen to participate solo because young people most often found their way into the sport because of their family’s involvement. This was not the case with Bill, however. It was through adult friendships that he became involved, and it was through many of these adult friendships that he found his way…Yes, our Mighty, Loving God makes everything beautiful in its time…in His timing.
In our early years of marriage, I had the privilege of meeting and establishing relationships with many people whom Bill had encountered in his already lengthy career. There were several married couples who embraced us as newlyweds, and for those dear friends, I am deeply grateful. There is no doubt that God had gone before us, to prepare a way to help us build and fortify a healthy marriage. And for many years, we have done life together with these people, these friends. Although times, and seasons have changed, there is a bond, a connection with these dear people so valuable and meaningful.
One of the wonderful things about the Fall National event at the Motorplex is the incredible gathering of these people who have been such an integral part of our lives. For the last few years, the race cars and the event rank second in importance to the weekend gathering in our hospitality suite. Retired racers, sponsors, crew members, family and other friends crowd around tables to reminisce (to embellish tales) about the past seasons of their lives. It is one of the most amazing times! It is a season to laugh and to enjoy these relationships. On Sunday afternoon, when the goodbyes begin, I always experience that tugging and stirring in my heart…knowing that the possibility is great that the dynamics of this yearly event, will possibly be different in the future, knowing that the train…the train to Jordan makes its stops, often unannounced.
And this year is different. The train came…”But He makes all things beautiful in His timing…His appointment”…
Paul and Rita were some of the first people to embrace Bill and his young career. They were a beautiful, wonderful couple from Des Allemands, LA. rearing a gorgeous family, and were immersed in a family business as well as incredibly competitive and successful drag racing. They were one of those wonderful families that enjoyed the sport as a family venture. Their kindness and goodness extended to me when Bill and I married. I remember their incredible hospitality, their warmth, their generosity, and their love. And, we did life together.
One of the most beautiful experiences with Paul and Rita was the celebration of our daughter and son-in-law’s wedding in Horseshoe Bay, Texas. Paul and Rita flew in to celebrate with our family; they knew the deep value and worth of a godly marriage…Today, our daughter still mentions them as some of the ‘guests of honor’…Doing life together.
The yearly events at the Motorplex showcased some of the finest visiting with Paul and Rita, hearing the family updates, the grand-children stories, beautiful conversations about God’s faithfulness to answer prayer, sharing laughter and tears, victories and defeats in their family racing ventures, and the finest wines and crab-claws, all the way from Louisiana!
Doing life together…The train came…it came for Paul a few weeks ago. His bags were not packed because he did not need them. He did not have a ticket…he did not need one. He had his faith…and he thanked the Lord with his life. He and his beautiful bride, Rita, lived their lives as an altar of love.
Suddenly, Paul experienced his home-coming. Bill and I traveled to Thibodaux to celebrate his life and to love the family. Instead, we found ourselves once again, immersed in the rich deep love of their family. It was also apparent by the huge response of the small city that a pillar of their community had boarded the train. Their church was a testimony of their faith and the beauty and majesty of their Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of gathering at the tables in the hospitality suite of our racetrack, we sat side-by-side with many of the racers, sponsors, friends, and family members in the beautiful cathedral to remember. We remembered deep and abiding love for family and friends, a passionate love for life and laughter, a loyalty to friends and to family…and a beautiful and compassionate call to each one attending…reminding each one to embrace the love of the Savior Jesus Christ, where true and eternal life is found.
No one of us knows when the train will stop…the train to Jordan…It will stop for each one of us at some time…some appointed time, requiring faith…to board…but no burden, no weight, no trappings, no baggage…just faith and a “thank you Lord”…
This week-end, there is an empty chair. But there are many people whose lives are richer and fuller, and they are reminded of true, meaningful life because of the lives of Paul and his bride Rita. And may I mention that she is a beauty; she is strong; she is passionate; she is loving; she is the matriarch of her family…and we hope to once again sit with her and to reminisce, when she is ready.
As the celebration service came to a close on that Wednesday, a voice sang the lyrics into the hearts and the minds of the congregation…
“People get ready, there’s a train a-comin’
You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board.
All you need is faith…Don’t need no ticket, you just thank the Lord.
So people get ready for the train to Jordan…”
(Curtis Mayfield, 1965)
And the season changes for each one of us. And the time is appointed. And it is appropriate and beautiful…A time for birth, healing, building up, laughter, dance, gathering, embracing, searching, finding, sewing together, silence, speaking, love, peace…And, the opposites are also true. But…
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
I thank God for each one of you, for what you mean to our lives and to God’s Kingdom. I pray that each one of us will speak boldly and lovingly the truth of God’s love and His faithfulness. May each of our lives be a testimony to the goodness and kindness of the Lord. I know that Paul and Rita’s lives continue to shine as examples of this kind of love. And I know that when the train came for Paul, his life and his example did not leave our lives. His chair may be empty, but their lives and their examples fill my heart, Bill’s heart and the hearts of countless other friends and family members…
I trust God with you that He will heal hurting hearts, He will restore the laughter and the dance…He will love the lonely…He is the Almighty God…He will not forsake His children…He paid for our ticket with His life…He carries our burdens and our baggage on His cross…May all people respond to Him with faith and thanksgiving…because,
Abundant love and joy, Billy and Deborah Meyer
And the Lord…said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love…” Jeremiah 31:3
Join us for a special Track Walk at 9:30 a.m. Walk the actual track surface with the stars of the NHRA! Free to all Sunday ticket holders. Line up at the starting line at 9:15 a.m.
CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY DRIVER INTRODUCTIONS
Be a part of the Driver Introductions! All Sunday ticket holders are welcome to cheer the drivers on in the fanzone as they are introduced during driver introductions on the starting line at 10 a.m..
WINNER’S CIRCLE CEREMONY
Fans are welcome to join the event champions in the Winner’s Circle for the Wally Trophy presentation. Team Mello Yello always makes it exciting with giveaways, games and music!
HIGHT, LANGDON, ENDERS-STEVENS AND H. ARANA SR. QUALIFY NO. 1 AT THE AAA TEXAS NHRA FALLNATIONALS AT TEXAS MOTORPLEX
ENNIS, Texas – NHRA Funny Car driver Robert Hight secured his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 45th of his career on Saturday with a track-record performance, and he will try for his third straight victory of the season on Sunday at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex.
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Sr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also lead their categories as the No. 1 qualifiers at the second of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Rains washed out both of Friday’s qualifying sessions as competitors made two runs Saturday. Sunday’s eliminations start at 11 a.m.
Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang climbed to the top of the class with an impressive second round showing of 4.052 seconds at 311.85 mph. The red-hot Hight, who broke the elapsed time track record with the run, will open eliminations against two-time event winner Del Worsham.
“It’s a lot of fun right now. It couldn’t happen at a better time than at our sponsor’s race,” said Hight, who jumped to third in the points standings with a win at Charlotte last weekend. “That was a good run. (Crew chief) Mike Neff is not one of these guys that goes up there and throws a Hail Mary.”
Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry driver Cruz Pedregon, a three-time event champ, holds the second position with run of 4.092 at 304.32 while series points leader Matt Hagan sits in the third spot with a performance of 4.093 at 312.78 in his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger. Hagan’s speed also broke the track record.
In Top Fuel, Langdon powered his 8,000-horsepower Al-Anabi Silver Racing dragster to his fifth No. 1 qualifier of 2013 and 11th of his career with a strong pass of 3.819 at 321.04. Langdon, who has a class-best five wins this year and earned three bonus points with the quickest pass of the first session, will meet T.J. Zizzo in the first round of eliminations.
“It was huge to come out here and make as strong a run as we did in the first session,” said Langdon, who claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot in Dallas for the second straight year. “It was our goal to try to bring the deficit behind (points leader) Spencer Massey to less than one round. Now our focus is to win the race.”
Doug Kalitta claimed the No. 2 spot with a run of 3.825 at 318.39 in his Mac Tools dragster. Protect the Harvest/MAV TV dragster driver Brandon Bernstein, who holds the track record in Dallas, secured the third spot after going 3.827 at 316.38. Fellow Texans Steve Torrence and points leader Massey, who has been the runner-up at his home track the past two years, took the No. 4 and No. 8 qualifying positions, respectively.
In Pro Stock, Texas native and fan favorite Enders-Stevens earned her first No. 1 qualifier position of the season and sixth of her career with a stellar performance of 6.557 at 210.93 in her newly-funded Husky Liners Chevy Cobalt.
“This is a great feeling for sure, especially doing it in front of my hometown fans in Texas,” Enders-Stevens said of her first No. 1 qualifier in her home state of Texas. “It was kind of nerve-wracking with only two qualifying sessions, so I hope to have more peace of mind during Sunday’s eliminations.”
Rickie Jones in his Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro took the No. 2 position with a run of 6.574 at 211.33 while his teammate, Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro driver Shane Gray, finished as the No. 3 qualifier with his pass of 6.591 at 210.77.
Enders-Stevens, who currently sits in the No. 7 spot in the series points standings, will take on fellow Texan Chris McGaha in the first round. Points leader Mike Edwards qualified No. 6 and will race Larry Morgan in the opening round.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana earned his second No. 1 qualifier of the season on his Lucas Oil Products Buell with a run of 6.846 at 195.42. Arana, who was the runner-up last weekend in Charlotte, claimed his 23rd career No. 1 qualifier with the run and will meet Michael Phillips in the first round.
“We’ve always had the power, but now we’re focusing more on consistency, taking it one round at a time,” said Arana Sr., who is the No. 1 qualifier for the second time in the past three races.
Son and points leader Arana Jr. took the No. 2 spot after a challenging first session on his Lucas Oil Buell, going 6.897 at 194.66 in the final qualifying session. He will face No. 14 qualifier Shawn Gann in the opening round. In the third spot is Matt Smith with his time of 6.893 at 194.07 on his Viper Motorcycle Company Racing Buell.
“We’ve always had the power, but could not take full advantage of it,” Arana Sr. said of his racing family. “This year, we’ve taken it easy on our runs. I’m truly blessed because I’m racing for a living and having my sons right with me to help out.”
The MAIN SPECTATOR lot WILL BE OPEN tomorrow for Championship Sunday.
All parking lots will be open, as regularly scheduled.
All parking pass holders will enter through the gate listed on the pass. All parking lots will be open and available on Championship Sunday.
Proceed to the gate listed on your pass, or park in the main spectator lot on highway 287 on the south side of the track.
Texas Motorplex and NHRA officials have adjusted the pro qualifying schedule to allow for fans to safely get into the
AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals.
*****The MAIN SPECTATOR LOT IS NOW OPEN******
The first round of pro qualifying has been pushed back to NOON to allow fans to safely park and enter the event.
Anyone with parking passes or handicap parking will still need to enter through Gate 20.
Suite and media will still enter through Gate 7.
***A few buses will remain on site to take spectators back to their vehicles at the high schools.***