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Fellowship on the Road

Published on April 03, 2024

Danielle Ripley-Burgess

This article appears in the Fall 2023 issue of the FCA Donor Publication. The FCA publication is a gift from our FCA staff to all donors giving $50 or more annually. For more information about giving, visit here.

“Hey, why don't we do a motocross camp?!"

It was a simple question Mitch Barnes and Dan Britton asked themselves as Barnes began explaining why he’d just arrived at FCA Camp with a broken arm. Britton, on staff with FCA, was working the camp and Barnes had shown up to volunteer. He’d been racing his motorcycle, a sport he’d grown up doing alongside his dad for the majority of his life, and had an injury. But it gave them an idea: a camp for motorsports.

“Motorcycle people need Jesus—I know because I’m one of them,” Barnes said.

A team quickly came together and before they knew it, FCA was hosting a motocross camp for around 40 campers. It was 2003, and in between riding up dusty dirt hills and practicing turns and loops with seasoned instructors, kids were learning about the Lord.

“You have to think fast in racing and make quick decisions,” Barnes explained. “We saw the same type of thinking happening at camp. The campers were quickly accepting the Gospel.”“The idea that someone would come in because of a dirt bike, but they get the Gospel, is pretty amazing.”
Donita Povolny

With the success of the first camp, Barnes considered ways to keep up the momentum. FCA Motocross officially began. Barnes pulled a leadership team together to support the ministry, and he also got connected with sports agent and former pro racer, Bob Moore.

“It was motorcycles and the Lord—for me, it was a perfect fit,” said Moore. “Being involved in racing at a very early age, we went to races on weekends and it pulled my family away from church. I saw FCA as an opportunity to stay involved in Christian community, and I wanted to help it grow.”

Moore didn’t only recruit some of the biggest names in the sport to attend camp, but he began volunteering himself and brought his boys. Like Barnes’ son, both of Moore’s boys accepted Jesus at camp. He would go on to become one of FCA Motocross’ biggest supporters and an annual volunteer.

Also a Jesus-following professional rider, James Povolny was attracted to FCA Motocross because it welcomed his whole family into a space where they could pursue both racing and Jesus. He and his wife Donita attended the first camp and were also drawn in by the Christian community. As James instructed the riders, Donita volunteered with tasks to organize the camp.

As FCA Motocross began growing, the leadership team considered who to approach about leading the ministry and they turned to Donita. 

“They said, ‘We really need somebody who's organized and who understands camp—would you come on staff as the Director for Motocross?’” Povolny explained. “And I was like, ‘You mean you want to talk to my husband?’ And they were like, ‘No, we want to talk to you. We think you could run this thing.’"

A6yK5hWzAlthough hesitant at first to step in, Povolny sensed God calling her into the role and she accepted the invitation. For the past 16 years, Povolny has overseen FCA Motocross. She understands what motocross families need for both community and discipleship.

“When we were racing professionally, I couldn't have told you my neighbor's names because we weren't home very often,” said Povolny. “Racing families were my neighbors, my community, my church, my people. I am passionate about this because I needed something like FCA Motocross when we were on the road. Now, we’re creating it for others.”

She also sees the unique opportunities that come with being a female at the helm of a traditionally men’s sport.

“I get to work with a lot of wives who aren't sure of their place in this sport or this ministry,” she said. “I get to come in and go, ‘When he serves, you serve.’ And there are some little girls who ride and race and come to camp, and it’s a cool thing that they can see me up front. I love that I can be inspiring for them.”

Under Povolny’s leadership, and thanks to committed and generous supporters, the ministry has grown. Twenty people serve on staff in some capacity and FCA Motorsports has its own teams in several states. Trackside ministry establishes relationships with riders and racers at all levels. There are now 12 motocross camps: 10 in the U.S. and 2 overseas in Guatemala and Italy. Plans for 2024 include adding two more U.S. camps and possibly another one overseas.

“She’s put her heart and soul into it, and it’s gotten a little bit better each year for 16 years,” Barnes said of Donita’s leadership. “We think a lot of her.”

Not only has FCA Motocross reached families through camps and teams, but it’s also found ways to host events to reach even more people inside the motorsports community—like having a presence at Supercross.

In the motorbike community, Supercross is a huge racing championship that visits multiple cities and attracts professionals and amateur riders alike. For 17 weekends out of the year, families flock to see their favorite stars tackle the high jumps and obstacles of the indoor dirt bike courses.

Because of their experiences in professional racing, leaders of FCA Motocross were very familiar with the Supercross events and saw the potential for sharing Christ. A chapel service is always hosted for the riders before each event, and FCA wondered if there was an opportunity for them to sit in and watch. Seeing riders do the track walk, a tradition in racing where riders walk a track to get a feel for it, following chapel was an added bonus, and something nobody else gets to see.
Thanks to long-standing relationships and divine open doors, FCA Motocross received a “yes” when they asked about setting up an exclusive event around chapel and the track walk. They invited a few campers who had attended motocross camp in the cities the Supercross events were being hosted. It quickly took off. Today, the Supercross VIP Experience welcomes around 150 guests in nine different cities. The event is free thanks to donors who give to support motocross ministry with FCA.

Seeing the impact and opportunity to share about the Gospel and the mission of FCA is one of the reasons Barnes and Moore continually support the ministry.

“Giving to FCA Motocross is a God thing, something that's been very close to my heart for a long time,” said Moore.

Barnes feels the same way.

“My wife Meredith and I have given to FCA Motocross every year; it’s part of our fabric,” he said. “We’ve been married 37 years and giving strengthens our marriage. A marriage that gives is probably a happier marriage. I know mine is.”

20 Years
This year, the team is celebrating 20 years of ministry, and to celebrate, generous supporters funded 20 full scholarships to motocross camp.

Over the past few years, ministering to coaches and athletes who engage in “sports with motors” has exploded with opportunity. FCA Motocross became FCA Motorsports, and it's now one of FCA’s eight sport environments. As the world of sports continues to evolve, especially with the popularity of travel sports, leaders of FCA Motorsports can see how motocross has paved the way.

“We were the original travel sport,” Barnes said.

The Povolnys, Moore, Barnes, and many others who are passionate about motorcycles and Jesus remain committed to seeing FCA Motorsports reach every family involved in the sport.


Photos courtesy of FCA Motorsports