Former NASCAR Cup Series driver and stuntman Neil Castles has died at the age of 87

Neil Castles, a NASCAR Cup Series driver from 1957 to 1976 who also worked in the film industry as a stuntman and transportation coordinator, died Thursday at the age of 87. News of Castles’ death was shared by longtime NASCAR journalist Deb Williams.

A native of Charlotte, NC, Castles earned the nickname “Soapy” after getting his first ever racing experience in a soapbox race, and he began his career at age 17 by helping prepare a car driven by Buddy Shuman in 1951 Southern 500 should be driven. Castles made his debut as a Cup driver in June 1957 and completed 51 laps at Columbia Speedway before retiring with an engine failure.

Castles had a long career in the Cup, making 498 starts from 1957 to 1976. Castles never won a single race – his career best finish was second four times – but he was credited with 51 top fives, 178 top 10s and finished in the top five in points in 1969 and 1970. Castle’s greatest success in NASCAR came in 1972 when he won the championship in the short-lived Grand National East Series – a second-tier division to accommodate tracks that were pushed off the schedule of the series due to contractions caused by Winston’s entry as title sponsor of the series Cup series had been cancelled.

In addition to his racing antics, Castles was also known as a stunt driver, most notably for racing films produced in the 1960s and ’70s. Castles film credits are included expressway with Elvis Presley (1968), Oiled Lightning with Richard Pryor (1977) and six pack with Kenny Rogers (1982). Castles has also had several acting credits in films such as The night of the cat (1973) and challenge (1974), and he also had several credits in the transportation department, either as a picture car coordinator or as a driver—most recently in hometown (2011) and The hunger Games (2012).

Castles was also the subject of a short story in the book American Zoom by Peter Golenbock, who encapsulates Castles’ legacy as a follower and character of his time. According to Castles, he had run well in one race and put in a lap on Curtis Turner, but a flagman – who knew Castles’ reputation – didn’t believe he was on the lead lap and kept waving a flag at Castles.

“The starter kept doing that,” Castles said, “and I got really angry, so I just grabbed my gun and the next time I came by the stand, I took aim and shot that…flag out of his hand.”

Castles’ 498 Cup starts are the third-most all-time for any driver without a single win, behind only JD McDuffie (653) and Buddy Arrington (560). Arrington, whose career overlapped that of Castles, died Tuesday at the age of 84.

Correction: The first edition of this story incorrectly reported that Castles was 88 at the time of his death. This was based on incorrect information and has since been revised as Castles was born on October 1, 1934. Castles memorials are administered by McMahan’s Funeral Home in Rutherfordton, NC

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