14-Year-Old Casey Roderick Sizzles at Shootout
While many of his peers are hanging out at the neighborhood pool or mastering the local skatepark this summer, 14-year-old Casey Roderick, of Lawrenceville, Ga., is adding to an already impressive racing résumé while pondering the next move in a career he hopes will lead to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup circuit.
"I think he can do it," David Roderick said about his son's goal of becoming a NASCAR star. "If you look at some of the drivers who are in NASCAR now and back up to what they were doing at age 14, Casey's accomplishments rank up there with the best that have ever raced a Legends Car."
In addition to competing in the 10-race Summer Shootout Series each Tuesday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Roderick also races at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Thursday nights and spends most weekends competing at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Ga.
"Let's just say my dad is spending a lot of money on fuel this year," Roderick said with a laugh. "We're busy year-round, but that's what you have to do."
The 460-mile round trip each week to Lowe's Motor Speedway for the Summer Shootout paid dividends last season as Roderick became the youngest driver to win the series' prestigious Legends Car Pro division championship.
He claimed the title on his 14th birthday, eclipsing the previous mark set by NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver Reed Sorenson, who was just over 14 years and 5 months when he captured the first of his two Summer Shootout titles.
But winning championships is nothing new to Roderick. He captured his first title at age 8 while racing go-karts and has added 11 more.
"Pretty much everything I've driven, I've won the championship in either the first or second year," Roderick noted. "Last year, I was a little intimidated at the Summer Shootout because everybody is there, and I didn't know what to expect. But when I got on the track, I was one of the cars to beat so that boosted my confidence."
"He's always raced against older people," David Roderick explained. "When he was racing go-karts in kindergarten at age 5, the other kids were in middle school. He's more mature, as far as his ability, than other kids his age.
"From day one, he was good in that go-kart. I think his hand-eye coordination was good for his age, but he progressed really fast on the racing part of it," Roderick's father added.
"I guess you could say it's natural talent because everything I get in I feel right at home and I've always been fast," the younger Roderick explained. "But now I've got a lot of experience racing and I know what to expect when I get in a race car."
Roderick is quick to credit his success to his equipment and the people who have helped him, including Doug Stevens and Peter Horne. He also fully understands the effort and dedication his father has put into his racing career.
"I want to get to NASCAR and succeed, but more than anything I want to pay my dad back for everything he's done for me," Roderick said. "That's my ultimate goal, and I'll do whatever it takes to pay him back."
Roderick says he will continue racing Legends Cars through the end of the year, but that the next step in his career has yet to be determined.
"We're trying to figure out how to get me into an ARCA car," Roderick said. "You have to be 16 to race in ARCA, but hopefully next year, if everything works out, we can practice in an ARCA car and run some late models. That would be awesome."
"We talked to some of the Cup teams last year and they want to see him run a year or two in a late model. He's too young for them because they can't do anything with him until he's 18," Roderick's father explained.
"They would rather see him develop a little more, which is understandable, but unfortunately it's on our dime and it costs a lot of money.
"The resources are a big thing and it's going to take somebody to help us, maybe a team that already has the equipment," the elder Roderick said. "I think whatever steps we take next year, it's going to be very important because he's at the age now where he needs to progress. He's got a lot to learn, but just looking at his talent driving a race car I think he's got what it takes."
The 14th annual Summer Shootout continues each Tuesday night through Aug. 7 and features three classes of Bandolero racing, four divisions of Legends Cars and the Thunder Roadsters.
Admission is just $7 for adults. Children 6-12 are admitted for $3 and kids under 6 are free. Tickets are available in advance at the speedway ticket office and at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Parking is free.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action at 5:30 p.m. Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m. For information, call the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.