Former NASCAR Driver Neil Castles Dies at 87

Neil Castles

Getty Neil Castles has passed away at the age of 88.

Former NASCAR Cup Series driver-turned-Hollywood stuntman Neil Castles passed away on August 4. He was 87 years old. Deb Williams of RacinToday first reported the news.

A native of Charlotte, “Soapy” Castles was a mainstay in the Cup Series for 19 seasons. He started 498 races while driving a variety of entries. However, he was well known for his No. 06 entry which he debuted during the 1967 season. This is the entry that he used to turn in numerous top-10 finishes, including at Bristol Motor Speedway, Langley Field Speedway, Columbia Speedway, and Richmond Raceway among others.

While Castles did not reach Victory Lane in the Cup Series, he still put himself in contention dozens of times. He ended his career with 178 top-10 finishes and 51 top-fives. His career-best season was in 1969 when he made 52 starts and posted 30 top-10s with 14 top-fives. He ended the year fourth in the standings while David Pearson won the championship.

Castles also won the 1972 Grand National East Series championship after posting top-10 finishes in 13 of his 14 starts and winning at both Greenville-Pickens Speedway and Smoky Mountain Raceway. One year later, he finished second in the championship standings behind Tiny Lund.

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Castles Spent Time Pursuing Another Career Path

Neil Castles

GettyNeil Castles spent time working as a stuntman.

Castles made his name known in NASCAR while facing off with such legends as Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Ralph Earnhardt, Wendell Scott, Pearson, and many others. He also drew attention while pursuing another career path.

Castles spent time working on film projects both during and after his NASCAR career. According to IMDB, he fulfilled a multitude of roles from 1958 until 2012. This includes four acting credits and his work as a technical advisor.

The veteran NASCAR driver also spent time behind the wheel as a stunt driver. He designed the race sequences for “Greased Lightning,” the 1977 film that focused on Wendell Scott’s career. He then worked as a stunt driver while supporting the cast that included Richard Pryor, Cleavon Little, Pam Grier, and Beau Bridges.

Castles continued to play a role in multiple projects. He was part of the transportation department for such projects as “The Hunger Games,” “Shallow Hal,” “Homeland,” and “Amos & Andrew.”

Castles Raced in a Unique NASCAR Division

The Cup Series is not the only high-level NASCAR division in which Castles contended for wins. He also took on a unique style of racing that began during the 1956 season. The Charlotte native raced in the NASCAR Convertible Division.

Castles made 55 starts over three seasons in the NASCAR Convertible Division, and he secured six total top-10 finishes. Two were at Richmond Raceway, including his career-best of sixth overall in a 1958 race that Joe Weatherly won in the No. 26 Ford.

According to Racing Reference, Castles never reached Victory Lane in the Convertible Division. His best season was 1958 when he finished 10th in the championship standings. Bob Welborn took the championship crown after posting eight wins in 19 total races.

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