Shoemaker making most of life off track

By Anthony Rhoads

Charles Shoemaker used to be on a fast track to success in auto racing but now, he's focused on a higher calling.

Shoemaker was one of the top local drivers three years ago and at one time, he held track records at Senoia and Lanier speedways.

After graduating from Henry County High School in 2001, he went on to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte to major in mechanical engineering.

But along the way, he felt like he was being called to become a minister.

Now, he's at Gordon College and plans to get his four-year degree from Clayton State before attending seminary.

"I just felt like I was being called to spread the good news," Shoemaker said.

One of Shoemaker's goals is to do missionary work in western Europe.

"It's so secular over there," he said. "I want to help spread the gospel because there are so many people who haven't heard it before."

Shoemaker still wants to be involved in racing to an extent and this summer is helping Atlanta Motor Speedway president and general manager Ed Clark in the Thursday Thunder racing series.

Past points champions fare well in first week of Thursday Thunder: When the seventh season of Thursday Thunder got underway this week, some familiar faces were in victory lane as three 2003 champions started the 2004 season with wins.

Casey Roderick won in Bandits and Mark Wallace won in Masters. Trey Maughan, who won last year's Young Guns points title, won his debut race in the Outlaw Division.

"It's great to win," Wallace said. "I'm not running a full season and I told the other guys I was racing to win this year, not going for points."

Faster pastors: The special event for the second week of Thursday Thunder will be the Second Annual Faster Pastor Race, featuring Gary Lewis, of Sharon Baptist Church; Craig Bowers, of the Locust Grove First Baptist Church; and Al O'Quinn, of Bethany Baptist Church.

The event will benefit the Helping in His Name Ministries. Last year, the event helped about 2,700 needy families.