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Smokin’ Hot Preacher Is Welcome To Come Back

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, August 2 2011

The guitar which goes to the winner of the Nationwide Race at Nashville was not the hottest topic after last month's race. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Erik J. Perel)

Nashville – The pit-road preacher who gave perhaps the most memorable invocation in NASCAR history will have a chance for an encore performance.

Cliff Hawks, VP/GM of Nashville Superspeedway, says pastor Joe Nelms “will definitely be invited back next year.”

Nelms is minister of Family Baptist Church in Lebanon, Tenn., located a few miles from the Superspeedway where his July 23 pre-race prayer became a national sensation.

In giving the invocation for the upcoming Nationwide Series race, Nelms went through the usual race-prayer litany of giving thanks for the drivers, teams and sponsors – but then went on to offer thanks “for my smokin’ hot wife Lisa.”

He proceeded to thank the Lord for his children Eli and Emma “or as we like to call them, The Little E’s.”

He wrapped up his prayer with a “Boogity, boogity, boogity!” – commentator Darrell Waltrip’s trademark expression at the start of a race.

The ESPN cameras showed several drivers smiling and chuckling as the unusual invocation went on and on.

By the next day the prayer had gone viral on YouTube and on TV rebroadcasts. During the next several days Nelms was invited to appear on numerous TV programs to discuss the invocation.

Some considered the prayer a tad sacrilegious but most of the reaction was good-humored and positive.

“The Bible says laughter is like a medicine, and I wanted people to see that side of racing,” Nelms told AP reporter Joe Edwards.

The pastor admitted that he borrowed the “smokin’ hot wife” line from the NASCAR-themed movie, “Talladega Nights.”

“It was the inspiration,” he said.

Nelms was asked on one national TV show if he considered it OK for a preacher to refer to his wife as “smokin’ hot.”

Nelms replied that most marriages would be in better shape if the husbands felt that way about their wives.

The race was won by Carl Edwards, one of the drivers captured on pit road chuckling during the invocation. Edwards reportedly whispered to team owner Jack Roush that he “wants that guy to preach my funeral.”

The race wrapped up the Superspeedway’s 11th season. Hawks expects the Dover-owned track to be back on the NASCAR truck and Nationwide schedules next season, and said he hopes Nelms will return as well.

“We definitely want him back,” Hawks said. “He’s great to work with and the fans really like him.”

Nelms said he “never imagined” his unusual prayer would generate such widespread attention, adding: “I hope God uses this for His blessing.”

– Larry Woody can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, August 2 2011


  • Randy says:

    If you don’t think GOD has a sense of humor – just look around or better yet look in the mirror!

  • steven says:

    The boogity crowd loves it but this preacher fits right in to the Nascar cartoon, unfortunately.

  • Chris says:

    I wouldn’t want that to become norm, but it was very funny and I applaud the Pastor for doing something a bit different.

  • Scott R. says:

    When was the last time a prayer made national news?? Pastor Nelms did nothing sacreligious, the fact that NASCAR exists at all is PROOF that God does indeed have a sense of humor! People need to lighten up…


  • Steve Hale says:

    Article is fantastic. Bring him back every year. By the way, you miss spelled “God” on the last line. You have “Goes”

    and I say, Boogity, boogity, boogity