American Idol has NASCAR-like faith-based connection through Motor Racing Outreach

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On the surface, NASCAR – and other forms of motorsports, for that matter – and the hit TV show American Idol have very little in common.

But in reality, the two shows have recently become linked by faith – according to MyFoxCarolina.com – as the Motor Racing Outreach organization has extended its ministerial effort from motorsports to Idol contestants.

“Motor Racing Outreach is an organization that provides the pastoral care, church services if you will, to the NASCAR community,” MRO president and CEO Billy Mauldin told the Charlotte-based TV station.

Based upon all the years of good work MRO, also based in the Charlotte area, has done within the NASCAR and motorsports communities, Mauldin recently became a spiritual advisor to American Idol contestants, as well.

Former Fox Sports president David Hill, who now also oversees most of the network’s overall programming including American Idol, reached out to Mauldin to help with the show, to minister both to those who advance as well as those who suffer defeat and do not advance.

“When David first called us about it, he said, “Keep this to yourself for right now,”” said Mauldin. “So, we couldn’t really talk to a lot of people. So, I had to just sort of rely on research on the Internet and stuff to try to get a feel for what it’s like for contestants that have been on the show in the past.”

Mauldin quickly realized that overseeing his NASCAR and motorsports flock of believers isn’t all that much different than ministering to those who appear on the show.

“I felt like I was with a lot of the young drivers in NASCAR that first get their big break, whether it’s Nationwide or Cup,” he said. “And you’re excited; you know your dreams are alive.”

NASCAR team owner, MRO board member and TV analyst Phil Parsons endorses Mauldin’s and the organization’s efforts with Idol.

“Personally, I thought it was a great idea,” Parsons said. “It’s very similar to what a young race car driver goes through. It’s the most important thing in the world for them to make it in this sport. The most important thing for the singers is to make it on that national, international stage.”

Click on the link above to see the MRO-Idol connection.

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Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.