|Left to right- Alan Litvak, Executive Director, George Del Canto, Owner Kingdom Racing and driver Davey Hamilton in the No.22 HP/ Kingdom Racing|
There are few home dates on the INDYCAR circuit. As a result this weekend will be one to savor for Kingdom Racing founder George Del Canto.
The Katy-based business is partnering with Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports and fielding the No. 77 car driven by Simon Pagenaud at the Grand Prix of Houston, June 27-28 at Reliant Park. Pagenaud will race both days, giving Houston-area fans an opportunity to watch him and his team in person.
“It’s really exciting to have our home race and be able to have our friends and local supporters actually get to go to the track and see what we do live," Del Canto said.
Del Canto hopes to have as many eyes as possible on the No. 77 car. Each lap Pagenaud drives potentially assists Kingdom Racing in its primary goal of “delivering God’s word through motorsports."
Del Canto founded Kingdom Racing in 2008 with the goal of spiritually reaching one million men, those who can make a positive impact in the lives of their families and colleagues. Del Canto said the organization carries God’s message first through broad outreach such as races and fan festivals, and secondly through its ambassadors program involving volunteers interacting with individuals at events.
One of Kingdom Racing’s most effective programs has been its Miles of Smiles ministry, which coordinates with churches in cities on the racing circuit. Del Canto said the program is active in more than half of the areas they visit during the season.
“We take individuals or families who might be struggling and invite these people to our guests at the particular race," Del Canto said. “We treat them like VIPs. They meet the team, meet the drivers, they go to our suite and the garage. Most importantly, we listen to their stories and pray with them. We encourage them to continue their journey. We’ve had tremendous feedback with our program. That’s really the highlight of race weekend for Kingdom Racing."
Del Canto grew up in Chicago and was a fan of open-wheel racing from trips with his father to the Indianapolis 500. He was raised Roman Catholic but described himself as a “cultural Catholic", never feeling a close relationship with God until experiencing the low point in his life while in London, working for Enron.
“I followed by career in finance," Del Canto said. “By early 2001, I felt completely lost spiritually, morally, relationship-wise. In October, I got to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore and I got on my knees and gave my life to Christ."
Del Canto moved to Houston in January of 2002 and later became a member of Second Baptist Church. In 2005, he said he sought God’s advice for a path to serve and was inspired by a dream to form what would become Kingdom Racing.
This INDYCAR season is Kingdom Racing’s third partnered with Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports and Pagenaud. A native of France, Pagenaud has become one of the circuit’s top drivers including last year’s third-place finish overall, helped by top-10 finishes in Houston.
This year, Pagenaud has amassed 279 points in eight starts to rank fourth behind Will Power (370 points), Helio Castroneves and Indy 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay. Pagenaud has five top-five finishes, highlighted by his victory at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in April.
Del Canto said Pagenaud’s success on the track is invaluable to Kingdom Racing, as victories and championship contention attract attention to everyone involved.
“This culture is driven by success," Del Canto said. “First of all, we’re here to honor God. What we have to do in any walk of life is be as excellent as we can. What we interpret it to be on the race track is to have a car and driver that’s capable of winning. Winning and running at the front gains a lot of attention. People remember winners."
At his home track this weekend, Del Canto will have many supporters around to share in a victory. Houston Chronicle