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Middletown 8th-grade racer on `one to watch' list.

By Dave Long
Thursday, January 23, 2003

MIDDLETOWN--Casey Neal got his name on the "young drivers to watch list of a lot of racing teams by winning three different classes during the Daytona Kart Week Dec. 27-30 at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida.

See large picture
Manufacturer's Cup Series World Championship: Triple winnner #3-Casey Neal leads the way in HPV Jr.. Photo by Bruce C. Walls, Susan Taylor-Walls.


Neal is a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Vail Middle School. He has been racing for only three years. This was his first venture into the national scene.
"It was awesome just being around the track," he said. "I was scared at first, just seeing everything. But you got used to it pretty quick once the racing started."
Neal was in the George Kugler Manufacturers Cup Series, sponsored by Bridgestone Tires, and dominated the Jr.Yamaha SuperCan, Formula Y Jr. and HPV junior divisions. Each division held two qualifying races prior to the championship feature.
Neal led nearly all of the estimated 100 laps he raced on the newly built 6/10th-mile venue in the Daytona infield between turns three and four.
Neal is now the national points leader in each division. There are four more races in the manufacturers cup series in Charlotte, N.C., Chicago and Madison, Wis., leading to the national finals in Batavia, N.Y., in August.

"It's going to be a busy year,' said David Neal, Casey's father. "All told, I think we're going to run 26 or 28 races all over the country, plus the local races at (G&J Kartway) in Camden. Casey really impressed a lot of people at Daytona with the smooth way he drives and (his) personality."
Word gets around the racing world quickly about young talent that has the combination of driving skill and marketable personality.
Several Web sites devoted to karting made note of Neal's triple championship accomplishment and engaging personality. Several individuals associated with open-wheel teams in the Indy Racing League and USAC said Neal "was giving driving lessons the whole week and will be one to watch develop on the national scene."
While many young drivers aspire to drive on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, Neal has different ideas.
"I don't really go for NASCAR," he said. "I'd like to race Formula I someday all over the world."
Neal comes from a racing family. His father "raced about anything with wheels when I was younger." He allowed his son to start driving quad runners and small go-karts in the back yard at "age 7 or 8."
By the time he was 11, the younger Neal wanted to start racing dirt bikes. His father felt they were too dangerous but steered Casey to go-karts.
"I just seemed to pick it up right away," Neal said. "I've got the knack for being able to get ahead early in a race and stay ahead."
Neal won consistently in Ohio Valley Karting Association races becoming the Yamaha Jr. Supercan Champion for 2002 and began to pick up some sponsorship in the Middletown and Dayton areas.
Last year, he hooked up with Italian chassis manufacturer Energy Racing and is now one of their factory drivers. Energy picked up all the bills for the Daytona trip.
"Casey has only had 40 races and won probably 30 of them," his father said. "So we're pretty new to this whole national racing scene. "
Away from driving karts, Neal carries a 3.0 grade-point average in the classroom and is on the Vail wrestling team with a 7-2 record in the 122-pound class.


Contact Dave Long at 225-2251 or email

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