A Pastors Perspective Second Chances And Buy Backs


By: Mike Upchurch

Second chances and Buy Backs

If we lose at something, whether it’s playing sports, playing a game of cards, running a race, or even hitting a buzzer on a Game Show, we would probably all like another try if we failed and lost. We would all like a do-over now and then, especially if we felt we could have won!

As most of you know, I am a Racers For Christ® Chaplain, specifically, a Chaplain to the world of Drag Racing. So if you would indulge me, let’s look at Drag Racing just for a moment and something that has changed the Sport somewhat. Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.

The change, which occurred a few years ago in Sportsman Drag Racing, is called “Buy Backs”. That term simply means that if you’re eliminated in a round of racing, you can “buy back” in to the next round, usually by paying anywhere from $20 to $50 more. Some Racetracks will allow you to buy back into both the second and third rounds, allowing you to stay in competition even if you’re defeated twice. Everyone has an off race now and then, so this was welcomed by most, though not every racer liked the concept. There are so many ways to lose though, most racers were receptive to the idea of a mulligan after a bad round.

Now, as to why it’s so difficult to win without buy backs available. Again, indulge me, as it is necessary to cover some technical aspects. Gone are the days of the fastest car always winning. Today’s drag racing is for the most part made up of Bracket racing or Index racing, which means you run against a “dial in”. Almost all of today’s racecars in the top classes have a Transmission brake or “transbrake”. This is simply a device that locks the transmission in both first and reverse via a solenoid, preventing the car from moving either forward or backward. The transbrake is engaged by a button, usually located on the steering wheel, and the driver can hold the button and ‘mat’ the throttle (hold it wide open) and the car won’t move. When they are then “staged” at the Christmas Tree, they will release the button when they see the first amber bulb light up. There are three amber bulbs on the Christmas Tree which light up sequentially followed by a green light. The car doesn’t move yet though, because the transbrake button is wired to a “delay box” which is then wired to the transbrake solenoid on the transmission.

At the risk of boring you even more than you might already be, the delay box will simply count down to a preset amount of time in thousandths of a second selected by the driver, then the box will release the brake on the transmission allowing the car to be in first gear only and launch from the starting line, usually with the front wheels up in the air.

If the driver has plugged the right numbers into the delay box, they should have a perfect reaction time. The driver must take into account his personal reaction time upon seeing the top bulb, along with the vehicle’s reaction time. Inertia is in play here; an object at rest tends to want to remain at rest, and it takes a lot of energy to get a 2 1/2 ton racecar moving from a dead stop as quickly as racecars leave! They must also factor in the timing of the remaining two bulbs, and the rollout in inches on the track before the laser beam connects again once the front tires clear the stage beam (Whew!).

If it is an elimination run, the driver has also informed Race Control in the Tower of the elapsed time in seconds they feel their car will cover the racetrack, which is their dial-in. This is usually done with white shoe polish or digital displays on their race car. So a ‘perfect’ run would be the result of a perfect reaction time of .000 seconds, and a dragstrip pass that is exactly the same as their dial-in, which is known as running “dead on”. As an example, a 6.300 second pass in the eighth mile on a 6.30 dial-in is dead on. Unfortunately, there are so many variables in making a perfect run that it is very hard to do consistently, even for the best and those with the absolute best equipment. Variables such as tire spin, tire pressure, barometric air pressure which can upset the fuel/air ratio, fluid on the track, engine performance, brain fade (driver performance), shift points in the rpm of the engine, being late or early in reacting to the top light, headwind on the track, staging depth in fractions of an inch, parts failures, etc. are all in play. It all adds up to dozens of ways to lose. A loss is usually measured in inches on the racetrack and thousandths of a second in time. You can ask multi-time Champion Luke Bogacki how close races can be. Luke was racing his rear engined dragster in the $50,000 to win Great American Bracket Race this year in Memphis. He had made it all the way to the semifinals and was racing another dragster. Both Luke and his opponent had identical .010 reaction times, and both ran quicker than their dial-ins, but only by identical .001. That’s 1 thousandth of a second. However, Luke’s opponent, the eventual winner of the race, was the first to break the beam at the finish line and the margin of victory was less than an inch! They’re still talking about that one!
There used to be a 1926 Ford Roadster running in Super Gas years ago that had excuses lettered on his race car as to why he lost. Trust me, as a former racer and Track Champion, there are probably twice as many ways to lose as he listed, but he ran out of room.

So as you can imagine, it was a novel and popular idea with most racers when buy backs were introduced in racing. Some credit the late George Howard, promoter of the Million Dollar Races, with the initial idea. But whoever came up with the concept, it gives everyone a chance, actually a second and third chance, at winning the jackpot of the night, sometimes worth several thousand dollars. It has happened before that the winners of an overall night of competition were eliminated in the first round, yet bought back into the race and ultimately claimed the top prize.
It should be noted however, that there are no buy backs within National Event Competition hosted by major Sanctioning Bodies such as the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) . If you’re eliminated in an NHRA Event, that’s it. You load up your race car in the trailer and you go home.

And as a parallel thought, there are no buy backs in eternal life either. You cannot buy your way back into Heaven if you’re eliminated from entry there. Yes, you knew where I was headed with this. Still, the fact remains you don’t get two and three chances to win eternal life!
If, at the Great White Throne Judgement, it’s learned that you never accepted Christ as your Savior, then you’re sent to Hell with no opportunity to buy your way back in.

You are eliminated.


Let that sink in. You can’t plead ignorance. You can’t then say you’re sorry. You can’t offer money. You are gone. Period.

Your response might be that it is a cruel God who would send someone to Hell, but actually they sent themselves there by making poor choices, and by NOT making the right choice of surrendering their heart to Jesus Christ!

So again, what can we do to avoid eternal damnation to Hell? What can we do to ensure we’ll be able to stay in the race and be allowed entry into Heaven? We simply recognize Jesus as the Son of God. We recognize that He, and He alone, has the power to forgive us of our sins, because He took the punishment for all sin at the Cross. And we then surrender our heart to Him as Lord of our life. We then won’t be eliminated from entry to Heaven, or be asked to leave.


How can I state it any more simply?

Just as a drag racer must make all the right choices in order to win their race, so you too must make all the right choices to enter Heaven. Surrender your heart today! And live for Him if you are already saved.
If you’re a racer accustomed to buying back in and you’ve never gotten saved, then accept Christ now. You won’t later show up in Heaven searching for that buyback window, begging for a second chance!

And that’s the way I see it!

Pastor Mike