SALUDA – The sight of Macy Causey leading almost five laps for the first time in a full-sized stock car delighted many on hand May 4 at Virginia Motor Speedway. Fans were on their feet and the crews of opposing Sportsman Division teams were fist-pumping and cheering her.
It was a sign of the respect Causey, a 12-year-old girl from Seaford, has earned with her continual improvement on the half-mile dirt track near Saluda. But there was some skepticism.
"Junior Carter (a former VMS track champion) called me up Monday morning and said lots of people asked him, `Why were you blocking so she could keep the lead?' " said Dave Seay, whose numerous duties at VMS include announcing the races. "Junior said he answered them, `Blocking? She was pulling away and I was trying to catch her!' "
Causey started on the pole because the starting lineup was inverted eight places and she had finished eighth in the first race. And while she gave up the lead near the end of the lap 5 of the 15-lap race, then had to rally to finish seventh after her only spinout in two seasons, her first time at the front was a revelation: especially to her.
"I was excited," said Causey, a sixth-grader at Yorktown Middle School. "I was really nervous that they were going to ram me and pass me, like on the first lap.
"Now, after I think about it and after it's already done, I'm excited that I actually pulled away from the second- and third-place cars by four or five car lengths for about five laps.
"Now I think to myself I can actually do it. I think my chances of winning (in the next year or so) have went from about a 3 (on the 10-scale) to a 6 or 7."
A year ago, many would've told you they were less than zero. Most of her previous racing experience had come in the tiny 550-pound automatic transmission Bandolero cars she raced to seven victories and a Langley Speedway division title on asphalt at age 10.
So, in many of her early races on dirt at VMS in the 3,000-pound Sportsman car, which has a body similar to an asphalt Late Model, she was getting lapped in the first five laps. To her credit, she didn't wreck anyone, including herself, while gradually getting up to speed with the rest of the field as she learned to race while shifting gears.
"We had a banner made that said, `Respect Yourself, Respect Others and Respect Safety,' " said Rhett Causey, her father. "She had to earn the respect of the other drivers, and she has."
This year she's finished sixth twice, seventh and eighth twice in a Sportsman Division averaging 14 cars per race. It was probably just a matter of time before she got the hang of it, because racing is in the family blood. Rhett met Macy's mom, Dee, racing go-karts at Langley Speedway, then went on to compete in Grand Stocks and Legends at the track for more than a decade.
But the real family racing star is Macy's grandmother, Diane Teel. Teel raced against, and often beat, a host of legends in the Late Model Division at Langley in the late-'70s and early-'80s, and is on record as the first female ever to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race.
Teel passed up a chance to race full-time in the Nationwide Series because she didn't want to raise Dee and son Donnie on the road. She never misses one of her granddaughter's races.
"Every race there's a 100-percent difference," Teel said. "I think she'll be in the top five before the end of the year.
"She has that natural ability, which is what (late Langley Speedway promoter) Joe Carver used to say about me."
Causey spends lots of time improving on that ability because she spends virtually none watching TV or playing on a computer.
"I'm an outdoor girl," Causey says. "I'm on a golf cart or 4-wheeler or on the trampoline when I'm outside. Most of all I like helping my dad on the race car.
"Though I'm a racer at heart, I still like to dress like a girl, wear makeup at school and make sure my hair is nice. But when I'm outside in the car, I don't care what people think of me – whether I'm a tomboy or not."
That goes for boys. Causey is interested in them and lists one of the reasons Denny Hamlin is her favorite driver is that "he's pretty cute."
But you sense her biggest similarity with Hamlin is a desire to go from local standout to national competitor. So any guy who dates in her in the future will have to appreciate her love of racing or. …
"I would say, `Goodbye, then,' " Causey said. "If I had to choose between a boy and racing, it would definitely be racing."
THE CAUSEY FILE
NAME: Macy Causey.
SCHOOL: Yorktown Middle, 6th grade.
SPORT: Truckin Thunder Sportsman Division stock car racing at Virginia Motor Speedway.
SPONSORS: CBX, Old Virginia Mortgage, Boardwalk Hot Dogs. Advanced Custom Coatings.
NOTEWORTHY: Causey won her first race, in a Bandolero car, at age 8 and was featured on the Today Show and in the New York Times. She won 11 Bandolero races in three seasons, including seven in 2011, when she won the Langley Speedway division title. She moved to VMS in 2012, becoming the youngest driver ever to start a race there.Copyright © 2015, CT Now