Chairman of Well-Being Australia Mark Tronson says it has been his privilege to have been a receiptent of wisdom from numerous such people leading up to and during his 18 years of founding the Sports and Leisure Ministry, 17 years as the Australian cricket team chaplain, and 29 years in faith financed mission.
One of these people was Tom Watkinson.
Mark Tronson continues the story: In 1985 as the Australian cricket team chaplain speaking at a men's breakfast at an Anglican Church in Kingswood (Penrith) was the first time I met Tom Watkinson.
Tom was a motor racing driver who had won various events in differing categories throughout his career from a young fellow and by that time was in the big league racing at Bathurst and winning the first major race on the Eastern Creek circuit.
The year before I had met with the Confederation of Motor Sport (CAMS) developing chaplaincy and as a result I was blessed of the Lord to initiate "formal motor racing chaplaincy" in Australia with CAMS.
The first series of race meets I attended as a Pit Padre were at Oran Park. I spent some time with Jack Brabham on that initial occasion, the very day his son David Brabham (later in Formula 1 and NASCAR) was involved in a serious accident.
Chaplaincy was well received by CAMS and a "Pit Padre Policy" was developed which was then adopted by CAMS Federal Board for motor racing chaplaincy throughout Australia.
It wasn't long after those initial race events the Lord led me to appoint people to generic chaplaincy leadership roles in the various professional sports, one of which was motor racing. In 1985 'rev head' the Reverend Garry Coleman took on this co-ordinating role and in June 2010 he was honoured for his years of service in motor racing ministry with an OAM.
Tom Watkinson was the first evangelical Christian motor racing driver I'd met in my time in motor racing chaplaincy and he was a delight to my heart.
Tom and Carol along with their two children were committed to the Lord Jesus and to Tom's dream and passion for motor racing. His race car was sponsored but the costs involved in motor racing is not for the faint hearted. Tom ran two spare parts businesses and drove "pilot vehicles" for long loads through the early morning hours to ensure that the financial demands of this enterprise were met.
But more than this, Tom willingly gave of his time and accompanied me countless times at speaking engagements to men's groups, youth rallies, church services and the like. Tom has a powerful testimony, and being a well established motor racing driver the "rev heads" listened passionately how Jesus changes lives.
On one occasion we had to get seven Christian athletes to Melbourne for the 1990 Christian Athlete Conference. No problem for Tom, he drove my 8 seater van, attended the conference and on the way home ran out of fuel at 3.00am somewhere near Wagga. He figured that although the fuel gauge showed empty, in reality he thought it had a bit left in it ….
In January 1999 the Watkinson's had a week at Timeout in Moruya for a Summer Sports Ministry School. Carol has been seriously ill in recent years, and Tom is the classic example of the saying: when the going gets tough, the tough get going!!!
Mark and Delma were invited in 2005 to Tom's surprise 50th birthday celebrations in Sydney.