RELATED: Causey makes history at South Boston
All her life, Macy Causey has heard the old family tales, the ones that shed some light on where her love for racing might have been born. Usually, they start with stories about Diane Teel, Macy’s grandmother, who was the first woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned event at Langley Speedway.
Macy’s father, Rette, grew up watching Teel drive at their mutual home track of Langley Speedway in Virginia before he ever knew her or married her daughter, and he remembers the reaction of the crowd every time Teel did well in a race car.
“Oh, they’d boo,” Rette Causey said. “They’d boo big-time. They’d hope for her to get taken out and when she’d get taken out, everyone — including my dad, I’m sure — they would cheer. It was just a culture. Nobody wants the woman to be out there, so when they spin her out, they cheer.”
Rette Causey was just a child then and didn’t know he was watching the woman who would pave the way for his own daughter in racing, who would absorb the worst while she waited for the world to change.
Because when 16-year-old Macy Causey became the first woman to win a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series late-model race at South Boston (Virginia) Speedway on May 17, the reaction was unlike anything Teel experienced or imagined.
“If it’s a thousand fans up there, 999 love Macy,” Teel gushed. “They go crazy over Macy. I bet you that out of everybody in the stands Saturday night, there weren’t 10 people who didn’t hoop and holler and scream.”
That was true for the crowd at Langley Speedway, too, where they announced that the homegrown Causey had won for the first time, and fans erupted in raucous applause.
“It’s just great that the sport has changed that much,” Teel said. “But as a driver, whether you’re a female or male, you have to earn the respect of the other drivers. And Macy has earned that.”
After all, Macy has been driving since she was a child, a passion fueled from being a third-generation driver. She started hanging out with her father in the garage when she was 5 while he worked on the Legend cars he raced, and she hasn’t wanted to be far from cars since.
“Like the Mannings grew up around football, for us, we grew up around racing,” Rette Causey said.
Teel’s daughter, Dee, started racing go-karts when she was 19 after a lifetime spent trying to avoid the inevitable. When she was 21, she met Rette Causey at a go-kart race. They hated each other at first, clashing on the track and confronting each other off of it.
Then Rette asked Dee on a date, and they were engaged a month and a half later.
Their eldest daughter, Brooke took up cheerleading. But Macy asked for a Bandolero for her eighth birthday, and began racing competitively from the start.
A 2009 New York Times feature about the pipsqueak driver gave her “five minutes of fame” Rette said, and that was the same year both he and Macy competed in a combined 61 races.
“We about burned each other out,” Rette Causey said. “We scaled it way back the next year.”
Macy started racing on dirt. That was the year, Rette said, when he knew his daughter was hooked on the sport.
“You could see her really smiling about what she was doing,” he said. “She was old enough to understand what it was that she was accomplishing. From there, it’s just escalated.”
Rette Causey quit his own racing career to begin supporting his daughter’s endeavors full time. This year, Macy Causey is part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. She moved to Charlotte in February and began competing with Rev Racing. She lives with family friends, works in the shop five days a week, competes on weekends, and squeezes in homeschooling in her down time. She’s on track to graduate from high school next year, and plans to study engineering in college.
“It was tough at first, but I’ve always been independent,” Macy said. “I definitely miss them (my parents) a lot, but I also come home a lot and I see them every weekend at my races.”
Her father and grandmother have not missed a single race in Macy’s career, and both Macy’s parents and her grandparents were on hand at South Boston Speedway two weekends ago when she made history. All of them were on pins and needles in the final four laps when Macy was running third and the two drivers ahead of her wrecked and took each other out.
Restarts have been a weakness for Macy at times, and Teel said she had one thought during the red flag before the final laps of the 75-lap race.
“I was praying for rain,” she said with a laugh. “I just wanted it so bad for her. I know that she was capable of doing it, but my heart was in my throat and I was worried about her.”
Macy actually fell behind Brandon Pierce on the restart, but surged ahead on the final lap to nab the victory by 0.286 seconds.
Once in Victory Lane, the announcer asked Macy what this victory meant to her. She looked down, looked to the side, and when she looked up, she began bawling and rushed to hug her mom.
“How do you put into words everything that she’s worked for all her life to get here?” Rette Causey said. “We didn’t expect it to come this quickly and it did. We were caught off-guard, I guess, is the best way to put it.”
Added Teel: “It was the greatest feeling in the world to see my baby win.”
Two days later, Macy was back at the home of Kyle and Leah Beattie, the Charlotte family she lives with, when she said she didn’t feel well. She had a temperature of 104 degrees, and was about to go to a medical clinic when she passed out.
An ambulance ride and short stay at Carolinas HealthCare System University later, Macy Causey learned she had strep throat, a sinus infection and was dehydrated. The symptoms began to appear while she raced Saturday.
“We had no clue,” Rette Causey said. “Macy’s really good about holding in when she’s in pain or something’s wrong. She just doesn’t complain.”
That’s something else she has in common with her trailblazing grandmother, Teel, who never grumbled about the treatment she received when she did well on the track. Teel was the first woman to compete in what is now the XFINITY Series in 1982, and she’s sure Macy has the ability to compete at the highest levels, too.
“I paved the way a little bit for her but she has her own ability,” Teel said. “I know what she wants. She wants what I wanted — but I had a family and I couldn’t pursue it.
“I can see my dream come true in my grandchild. It’s a dream I always had. It was always my dream to run Daytona. If I can see Macy do that then I’ll be happy. Macy will make it, I’m sure.”
All her life, Macy Causey has heard all the tales of her racing pedigree, and now she’s adding her own chapter to the family storybook.