One day before her 102nd birthday, North Carolina’s oldest-living breast cancer survivor, Nannie Sue Neal from Waxhaw, N.C., will serve as the Honorary Race Director for the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, Oct. 14.

In conjunction with October’s recognition as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dollar General, Speedway Children’s Charities and Susan G. Komen for the Cure are working together to increase awareness and raise funds for breast cancer research with programs surrounding the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage.

In her role as Honorary Race Director, Neal will attend the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage driver’s meeting, meet with media, be introduced on the pre-race stage during opening ceremonies and take a pace car lap on the legendary superspeedway with the Grand Marshals. 

Born in 1909, in Madison, N.C., Neal will celebrate her 102nd birthday on Oct. 15. She has been recognized by the American Cancer Society as the oldest living breast cancer survivor in North Carolina. Neal is a 57-year survivor of the breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 1954. While she underwent treatment, Neal’s daughter, Betty Mae, cared for her before leaving for college that fall.

Neal was married for 59 years until her husband, James Ernest, passed away in 1990. Growing up she studied to become a nurse, but quit nursing school just after the Great Depression to work inside the home as a seamstress and bake goods for wealthy families in town.

Neal currently lives with her daughter in Waxhaw. These days she is a woman of few words and she sums-up her battle with breast cancer with one simple thought.

“I might look like a road map, but I’m here and I’m still alive,” she said.
A life-long NASCAR fan, Neal has watched three generations of Earnhardts race and her current favorite driver is Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“Don’t interrupt her races,” said Neal’s granddaughter Bettylyn Krafft. “We know better than to schedule things with her on Sundays because we know she’ll be watching the NASCAR race.”

Neal has been to one race in her life, in 1999 at Rockingham Speedway, but she left the event early because of inclement weather. She says she can’t wait to get to Charlotte Motor Speedway for her once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage.

“I can’t believe that I am going to Charlotte Motor Speedway,” Neal said. “I’m so excited to be a part of the race on Friday night but what I really hope is that Dale Jr. wins the race on Saturday.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 12, Neal joined speedway officials for lunch in The Speedway Club. During the lunch, Marcus Smith, Charlotte Motor Speedway president and general manager, presented her with a special plaque to celebrate her 102nd birthday and to recognize her as the oldest living breast cancer survivor in North Carolina and one of the state’s biggest NASCAR fans.

Neal will be joined at the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage by her granddaughter and other guests, who will enjoy the race from one of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Clubhouse Suites.

Tickets for the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway can be purchased online at or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267). It’s a great time to take the whole family to the races, with Charlotte Motor Speedway’s new smoke-and-alcohol-free Family Seating Section, where kids’ tickets start at just $10 for the Bank of America 500 and just $1 for Bojangles’ Pole Night and the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage.

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