Bradley McCaskill will be starting in his first race since being hospitalized with second-degree burns in a crash at East Carolina Motor Speedway three months ago.
McCaskill, 27, from Knightdale, North Carolina will be making his comeback at Southern National Motorsports Park on Saturday night. Earlier this week, he tested at Southern National, marking the first time he’s raced since June 4th and he said it’s no different than any other time he’s stepped inside his racecar.
“It’s like riding a bike,” McCaskill said. “It wasn’t any different than any other time. Everything was fine. It’s just like missing a little bit during the offseason. I went through the entire car to make sure it was like it needed to be. It’s fresh and ready to go.”
McCaskill is known for being a fierce competitor who is willing to do whatever it takes to win races. That determination to win and that competitive spirit has not changed since the accident at East Carolina.
“When I’m on the racetrack, I race to win,” McCaskill remarked. “Whatever it takes to win. There’s no checking up to get to the front. The day there’s any thought in my mind of not giving it 110 percent is the day I quit racing.”
Despite being out of the car for three months, McCaskill is approaching Saturday night’s twin Late Model races with the expectation of scoring two victories.
“We’re going with the expectation of bringing home two checkered flags. Anything less, I’m not going to be thrilled with. We went through every aspect of the car. We’ve practiced. There are no excuses.”
McCaskill recalled the incident at East Carolina that sidelined him for three months.
It all started when Brenden Queen and Thomas Burbage, who were involved in an ongoing feud, were racing for the lead and the win. The two cars got together, causing a massive pileup involving McCaskill. McCaskill’s radiator broke and fluid from the radiator burned him.
“They were racing really hard in front of me and I think [Queen] put [Burbage] in the fence,” McCaskill recalled. “Me and Michael Fose were sitting behind them watching it getting ready to happen. We were coming to the white flag and nobody was going to back down. We checked up and someone ran into me.
“Louis [White] wheel hopped and landed on top of my car and as soon as Louis landed on me, I felt the water and the burning and I couldn’t get out of my window net. I jumped out the right side and my crew guys ran out on the track and pulled me out of the car. I remember the track was blocked when Louis got there. Nothing he could do. He’s the last person who would want to hurt anybody.”
McCaskill spent some time in a hospital while his longtime friends and fellow racers Robert Arch and Joshua Van Winkle kept his Grafix Unlimited business going. Now, with McCaskill’s return, he’s going to thank those guys along with everyone else who helped him get better with a new look on his racecar.
His black racecar will have decals for the UNC North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, where he recovered from his second-degree burns, as well as decals for other businesses who supported him. The trunklid of his car will list the names of everyone who donate to help him get better.
“While I was in the hospital, Robert Arch and Josh Winkle were working for me,” McCaskill said. “They printed my same wrap and had it ready for me when I went back racing. Since then, I wanted to do a car that said thank you to everybody that helped me get back in the car so I wanted to put sponsors and stuff.
“Literally all I did was cut the numbers out of the wrap that they printed and that’s what’s on the car now. All the names of people that has donated stuff to me through GoFundMe, that’s their names on the trunklid of the car.”
McCaskill will certainly be popular with the fans in his return, which is a far cry from recent history at Southern National.
In the season opening race of the 2015 season, hometown favorite Ronald Renfrow spun off McCaskill’s front bumper in the apex of turns three and four on the last lap. Renfrow was recovering from surgery himself after donating a kidney to a friend.
After that incident, McCaskill was not the favorite driver among the fanbase at the Lucama, North Carolina track. This time, the fans will likely be pulling for him just like they did when Lee Pulliam scored his Thanksgiving Classic victory days after his wife was injured in an automobile accident.
“Little bit different there and that goes back to the not backing down there,” McCaskill said. “It will be nice to have people going for me this weekend.”