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Jul16WedGeorge Del Canto proves you don't need a fast car to be a winner. July 16, 2014 by Jayne Thurber-Smith
On race day, the scene is exhilarating: hundreds of fans mill around, the smell of diesel exhaust fills the air and the whine of dozens of turbo-charged race cars can be heard for kilometres. But Kingdom Racing's founder George Del Canto knows winning on the track isn't everything. To the founder of the faith-based Indy racing team, the lead-up to races such as the Indianapolis 500, the most prestigious motor race in North America, is more important than the actual race.
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George and his Kingdom Racing team are thrilled to be a part of the Honda Indy that will be held in Toronto July 18-20.
“We really enjoy the Toronto race,” he comments. “The people are always so nice, and we have a wonderful time. The course is a street course, not a permanent one—they block off parts of downtown, put up bleachers and concrete walls. It's a tight track and drivers love it. You never know what will happen so everyone has a shot at doing well. You just do the best you can and hope no one hits you on the way through.”
Since he's not involved in pit strategy or changing tires, George is considered non-essential race personnel, so he is only at the pit box for the start and end of the race.
“After that we spend most of the race in our hospitality unit with monitors and live track feed,” he says. “If we have guests, we take them around so they can drink in the full atmosphere of 'behind the scenes.' This year, we hope to bring our Miles of Smiles program to Toronto, where at-risk families or individuals are our guests on one of the race days.” They are given all-access passes and tours, introduced to the drivers and photos are taken.
“We treat our guests as special as the people they are,” he continues. “More importantly, we listen to their stories and share ours. We're all just regular people and God has done so much and been so amazing in our lives. We're able to share our hope and guidance, and encourage them to attend their local church. This I know from experience: you can have the greatest success in your life when you honour God.”
Kingdom Racing's track-side Fan Festivals feature show cars, autograph sessions and top Christian entertainment.
“Most people expect Christians to talk and walk in a subdued way, not being a part of anything really exciting. We want to show that you can be on the cutting edge of something as competitive as the Indy 500 and still keep your focus on God.”
From Vision to Reality
When George first conceived the idea of Kingdom Racing, he was where many sports fans are: totally ignoring God.
“I was a commodities trader,” George says. “I was making good money and thought I was on top of the world. My wife, Marichu, was a believer and surrounded me with Christian friends, but I didn't take it for real.”
Then the company suffered a downturn.
“My wealth, career and all vestiges of my life were taken away from me until I had nothing left,” he says. “That was the catalyst I needed to start believing in God.”
While the rest of his colleagues were in turmoil, George relocated his family to Houston, Texas. As it happened, they moved into a house about a kilometre away from a church, which George and his family attended for the next three years.
“I attended a men's discipleship class and read Awaken the Leader Within,” he remembers. “That book challenges Christians to have a 'knock-your-socks-off' vision for God's kingdom, one so great that there's no way you can do it yourself. That was our class assignment: to come back the next week and tell everyone else what that was. My wife told me to pray about it, but nothing came to me.”
The night before George had to return to his weekly meeting, Marichu asked him what vision God had given him. Up until then, George had no idea but suddenly it hit him.
“I said, 'I'm going to build an Indycar team and deliver God's Word through motorsports,' ” he remembers. “Then Marichu said, 'George, you'd be perfect for that!' As a boy I enjoyed attending races with my dad, but always thought racing was beyond my reach. It was a little-boy dream I had let go.”
George shared his vision with his men's class.
“I kept picturing thousands of people, all loud and enjoying themselves at race tracks with no clue about heaven,” he says. “So I called my pastor, who confirmed that God was behind my vision.”
That was in June 2005. George had no background or connections to the racing world, but doors began to open. His vision became a reality and Kingdom Racing began competing in the Indy 500 series in 2008.
Running the Race
Tragically that same year, Marichu was diagnosed with stage-four brain cancer and died four months later.
“She was full of love and joy every single day,” George smiles in memory. “When she died, it tested my faith. I found out first-hand that we don't mourn the way the world does. Though grieved by the loss, I knew she was with God, and I was comforted by that.”
George spent the following months determined to carry out the vision given to him and approved and supported by his late wife.
“I kept trusting,” he says. “Now I tell people I meet that they need to trust God, too. Despite whatever hardships lie ahead, God has plans for you, and those plans are good.”
Several months later, a waitress at a restaurant George frequented introduced him to her mother, Maricarmen.
“God knew what I needed, because I didn't know,” he says, “and now we're married. She is my guiding right hand, co-worker and confidante. With God at our side, Kingdom Racing is bringing hope and healing to men just like me. And we can run the race of this life and celebrate true victory.”
(Photos: Courtesy of Kingdom Racing)