Missing motorcycle was part of a motorhead ministryThe motorcycle stolen from Jim Wiles’ garage last week was more than it appeared
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
To the untrained eye, the motorcycle that disappeared from Jim Wiles’ garage last week might not look like much. It’s small. It’s a little beat up. It can be hard to start.
That’s part of what has Wiles worried. He imagines whoever walked off with the bike having trouble starting it, getting frustrated, then just dumping it in the woods somewhere, or maybe rolling it into a pond. And then Wiles is out what, appearances aside, is actually a fairly expensive motorcycle built for indoor racing.
“It’s highly modded out with special parts and things done to the motor,” Wiles said. “What they might have thought was a used, $300, $400 bike is actually a very expensive race bike.”
The motorcycle, which is raced by Wiles’ nephew, is not just for riding, though. It’s also part of a ministry Wiles has built over the past decade to reach out to the racing community.
Wiles was 44 years old when he was suddenly struck with the idea to buy a motorcycle and take it to Brainerd International Raceway. He took a class on a Friday, raced on Saturday and has been going back ever since. He’s not typically a top finisher, but he enjoys himself. He has his expert license, and he teaches motorcycle classes during the summer on the track at Dakota County Technical College.
Wiles has another purpose at the track, though.
“I’m not necessarily there to find my way to the podium,” he said. “I’m there to get in a relationship with the people.”
A former member of the senior staff at Lighthouse Christian Church, Wiles also saw a need for ministry at the races he attended. Because races are held on weekends, he said, the people who participate tend to get separated from their churches.
That’s where his On Track 4 Him ministry comes in.
“We show up to these race events to race and participate, which is kind of the buy-in to the culture of racing, which opens the door for us to minister to people,” Wiles said. “It’s really about service. My gauge of it is, when people out of the race community are asking me to do their weddings and baptisms, I feel like we’ve accomplished something.”
Wiles’ motorcycles have his ministry’s logo on them, as does the RV he uses to travel to events. People don’t always accept him immediately, but word of mouth and positive reactions from some of the people he’s already dealt with usually help him win people over.
In his busiest year, Wiles attended 41 weekends of events – both motorcycle and snowmobile races. This year, because of a tight budget, he expects to make it to just 12 or 15 weekends.
“At this point, (the ministry) is a profession for me, but it doesn’t pay very well,” he said.
Wiles also owns his own remodeling business.
The loss of the motorcycle last week won’t seriously impact Wiles’ ministry. Beyond his nephew’s racing, the red Honda XR 50 was mostly used for getting around the pit area at the bigger events.
Wiles isn’t sure what happened to the motorcycle. He believes he accidentally left his garage door open overnight. Nothing else in the garage was stolen.
“My worst case scenario is, because it’s kind of difficult to start and it’s supposed to run on race gas, my fear is someone got ahold of it, they can’t start it and they just flipped it in the woods or a pond and it’s going to rot,” he said.