NASCAR Cup Series driver and acrobatic entrepreneur Neil Castles has died at the age of 87

Neil Castles, a 1957-1976 NASCAR Cup Series driver who also worked in the film industry as a businessman and transportation coordinator, died Thursday at the age of 87. News of the death of Castles Long-time NASCAR journalist Deb Williams shared it.

A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Castles earned the nickname “Soapy” After getting his first racing experience through the soap derbyand began his career at the age of 17 by helping set up a car driven by Paddy Schumann in the 1951 Southern 500. Castles would make his debut as a trophy driver in June 1957, completing 51 laps at Columbia Speedway before leaving him with an engine failure.

Castles went on to have a long career in the Cup, making a total of 498 starts from 1957 to 1976. Castles never won a single race – his career best finish was second on four occasions – but was credited with a 51st place five, 178 in the top ten and finished in the top five in points in 1969 and 1970. NASCAR’s greatest castle success came in 1972, when it won the championship in the short-lived Grand National East Series – a division two designed to accommodate dropped tracks from the Cup Series schedule due to the downturn caused by Winston’s entry as Series Title Sponsor.

In addition to his racing adventures, Castles also made a name for himself as a stunt driver, mostly for films about racing made in the 1960s and 1970s. Castles movie credits included Speedway Starring Elvis Presley (1968), greased lightning Starring Richard Pryor (1977) and Abdominal muscle division Starring Kenny Rogers (1982). Castles also had many acting credits in films like cat night (1973) and a challenge (1974), and also had several credits in the Transportation Department as a photo coordinator or motorist – most recently in homeland (2011) and hunger Games (2012).

Castles were also the subject of a short story in the book American Zoom by Peter Golenbock, who encapsulated Castles’ legacy as a figure of his time. According to Castles, he was running really well in one of the races and had run a lap on Curtis Turner, but the shepherd—who knew about Castles’ reputation—didn’t think he was on the first lap and kept waving a flag pointing to Castles. jib.

“The initiator kept doing this,” said Castles, “and I was so crazy, so I picked up my gun, and the next time I came from the stand, I aimed and fired that…the flag from his hand.”

Cassells’ start with 498 trophies is the third-most for any driver without a single win, after JD McDuffie (653) and Buddy Arrington (560). Arrington, whose career overlapped with Castles, He passed away Tuesday at the age of 84.

revision: The first issue of this story incorrectly reported that Castles was 88 years old at the time of his death. This was based on incorrect information and has since been revised, as castles were born on October 1, 1934. The memorial arrangements for castles are processed by McMahan funeral home in Rutherfordton, North Carolina