OUR TOWN: Game Plan: Ashlyn and Deac McCaskill

Fifteen-year-old Ashlyn McCaskill carries on a family tradition of auto racing with help from her father Deac McCaskill, an accomplished racer.

“My dad and my papa built the car, so (my mom) knows I’m safe.”
–Ashlyn McCaskill, 15-year-old UCAR short-track racer

by Jessie Ammons
photographs by Travis Long

Car racing is in the McCaskill blood. “It’s something that you’re born into as a little kid,” says Deac McCaskill, who first drove a race car when he was about 12. “I’ve been going ever since.” Among the now-39-year-old’s favorite aspects of round track racing (“this is Saturday night racing at your local short track … a hobby”) is the camaraderie, McCaskill says. “You’re competitors on the track but when anything bad happens, it’s a huge family that supports you.”

For McCaskill, the family environment is literal: Last year, his 15-year-old daughter, Ashlyn McCaskill, started racing UCARs, which are slower and more affordable models. “I run up to 150 mph, and she runs 100 mph.” To the average non-racing driver, that might sound fast, but “it’s really safe,” McCaskill insists. He knows because he works on cars by day, alongside his dad Boyce McCaskill at Boyce’s self-named auto service shop in northeast Raleigh. “I enjoy working on (the cars) as much as I do driving them.”

Like her father (and her cousin, Bradley McCaskill), Ashlyn McCaskill says she “pretty much grew up at the racetrack” and has loved it since she first hopped in a car at age 13. She’s apparently a natural, having won two races within the first few months of her driving career. “I don’t want to brag on my kid,” Deac McCaskill says, “but she’s picked it up really fast.”

After her first accident earlier this year, the Garner high school sophomore had a concussion that required her to take a few months off of racing. Already, her racetrack peers are mostly men in their 20s and 30s, not the teenaged best girlfriends she spends most of her time with. Neither fact has her wanting to hang up her helmet anytime soon. “I’m not scared, I (was) ready to get back to it. I love it.”

“She wants to race every weekend,” Deac McCaskill says. “Some weekends I want to relax and stay home. Ashlyn gets mad because she wants to go racing. But, hey, I guess I’d rather my 15-year-old daughter want to be at the racetrack than somewhere else.”

Deac McCaskill races with the CARS Racing Tour, which will be at the Orange County Speedway in Rougemont June 24.