YORK — Macy Causey says her teachers at York High School understand that stock-car racing occasionally will take her out of class. She adds that it helps that she’s an A-B student, but also that she’s actually “accomplishing things” on the track.
Her 2015 accomplishments include a top-five finish, top-nine in the standings and Rookie of the Year honors in the tough Late Model Division at Langley Speedway in Hampton. The freshman also was named Whelen All-American Series State Rookie of the Year, competed respectably in the prestigious Late Model event last week at Martinsville Speedway and, at 14, is the youngest driver invited to the NASCAR Drive For Diversity Combine.
With the D4D Combine beginning Monday at Langley, Causey talked to the Daily Press about it and her memorable 2015 season.
Question: What was your best accomplishment at Langley this season?
Answer: Definitely finishing in the top five in a race and running up front. My confidence level in myself and my car wasn’t high, but once I got near the front, I realized, “If I don’t go and don’t race with them, I’m going to cause a wreck and be in it.” So I just pushed the car as far as it would go.
Q: When was your most difficult time at Langley as a first-year Late Model driver?
A: The first couple of weeks of the season were definitely rough. I didn’t really figure out things and when to push the car all the way. Especially starting in the back a couple of times, I got into the back of the 19 (Cameron Bowen) and that was a big wreck-fest.
We were pretty much getting together in Turns 1 and 2 every week. The first couple of weeks are stressful because you’ve got to figure out how everyone drives and how they handle things.
Q: So what gave you the confidence you could race a Late Model at Langley competitively?
A: Nothing (specific) really gave me the confidence. I just slowly realized to pass people, you have to race them side-by-side. In the race I did finish top-five, I raced side-by-side with Casey Wyatt for a while.
If you don’t know how far you can go up the track with someone beside you, you’re going to pitch the curb and it’s going to upset the car. You’ve got to know how hard you can go and how hard you can push the car.
Q: How does being competitive in a Langley Late Model help you moving forward in your career?
A: It means a lot. I know I can be more competitive and be more interactive with the car and how it handles if I just start learning more.
At the age of 14, you really don’t think about that stuff. You just let mom or dad or the crew chief know how the car is handling, and they can figure out things. But my dad and I are working now on simple setups, like the track bar and cross.
For me to learn those things at 14 is pretty (important). If I can learn more about the car, I can come in from practice and try to make adjustments myself instead of trying to translate (information) to my dad. I think me having so much under my belt already has made me want to learn more.
Q: Can you describe the experience of driving at a huge track like Martinsville for the first time?
A: It was overwhelming. I was definitely nervous. I never thought I’d make it that far and have so many people watch me and watch a race. They put so much money into that track, but racing there is fun and makes me want to keep doing this.
Q: What was the highlight of Martinsville weekend for you?
A: The “last-chance” race, I finished 12th out of 38 and finished within two spots of making the main race. I was slowly getting better, but the “last-chance” race is an extreme wreck-fest with people trying to get those spots in the top 10.
I avoided a huge wreck but went up on the curb, which is a huge hump, and that set the car off a little bit. I was still able to get some good runs and pass some cars. The track isn’t as hard as Langley Speedway to figure out, but it’s definitely a hard track.
Q: You honored your grandmother, Diane Teel, the first female to drive in a NASCAR (Xfinity Series) race, at Martinsville with a sticker on your car. What is her influence on you?
A: She’s definitely meant a lot to my racing and made me want to keep doing it. I know when I make it big, there’s going to be a lot between me and her, and that it all will have started with her.
I know if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be racing. My mom (Dee, Diane’s daughter) and dad (Rette) wouldn’t have met. If my mom wasn’t into the racing thing, my mom and dad wouldn’t have met, then my dad wouldn’t have started racing and I wouldn’t have started racing.
Q: You received a ton of media attention this season. What was it like and what was the highlight?
A: I’m a social butterfly, and even though I didn’t realize there would be so much media, I got used to it. The public service announcement on (WAVY and Fox 43 television) was pretty much the most memorable, because it was the most meaningful. It had to do with texting and driving.
That’s a big thing and something people need to focus on. I think a lot of people pay attention to what I do, how I handle things and things I post. If I say something like that, they’ll take it under consideration. I think a lot of people have seen it and hopefully I’ve changed some people.
Q: What would it mean to make the (NASCAR-sponsored) Rev Racing team out of the D4D Combine?
A: It would mean a lot. It would take a lot off of my parents. They’ve pretty much had to do everything.
Rev Racing really has the structure and has helped kids and turned their racing lives around. It would be a big success for me to make the team, and they would make me more successful. I’d love to be part of Rev Racing.
Q: And being named State Rookie of the Year and being invited to the banquet in Charlotte?
A: It’s an accomplishment, but it’s only the beginning. I think there will be more.
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.