By Hoda Kotb Correspondent
Dateline NBC
updated 5/10/2009 8:03:40 PM ET 2009-05-11T00:03:40

It is movie night at the Causey household down in Seaford, Va.  Dad Rette and Mom Dee are gathered with the kids to watch “Herbie Fully Loaded.” It's their daughter Macy's favorite DVD. See if you can guess why.

HodaKotb: That's fast.  That is super fast.

And Macy is super young.  Yes, she is a race car driver,and she is in the second grade.    

Her own Herbie is this little number, a 30-horsepower Bandolero. It's just like a regular car, only kid-sized.  

Mom and Dad gave it to her as a birthday present last year, and she's had her little pedal to the metal ever since, pushing 50, even 60 miles an hour.

HodaKotb: I had no idea eight-year-olds were-- were riding racecars.  Is this-- this is a big deal, isn't it, Rette--

Rette Causey: Yes, it's a real big deal.  It's-- it's fun.  It's-- a lot of kids do it.

In fact, as of last year, more than 500 kids have been racing in a youth division of In-Ex. It's kind of A Little League Nascar.  And Macy is one of a handful of girls in her program, the Bandits.

HodaKotb: The guy's about to wave the flag, and you're sitting in your car, and you're ready to go, what are you thinking about?

Macy Causey: Um, that I can pass the-- the bad boys.

HodaKotb: You call 'em "bad boys."  Are they all boys, usually?  So, it's one girl vs. all the boys?  Do you like it like that? 

Macy Causey: Yeah.

You could say racing is in Macy's blood.  Her grandmother Diane Teel was a trailblazer, the first woman to win a Bascar-sanctioned race. And Dad is an accomplished amateur driver himself.

HodaKotb: Who do you wanna race like?  Who do you wanna be like? Who's the best racer in the world? (laugh) You and your dad? That's love.  (laugh) You-- you must be so proud of her--

Rette Causey: Oh, yeah.

HodaKotb: --are you, Rette?  I mean--

Rette Causey: Yeah.  Yes.

HodaKotb: --I can tell she touches you.  I mean, obviously--

Rette Causey: Uh-huh.

HodaKotb: --you feel lucky that-- that she decided to kinda follow you?

Rette Causey: Yeah, I do.  I mean--  just watching her, watching the things she does in the garage, and-- and how quickly she picks up on things--

HodaKotb: Right.

Rette Causey: You know, you just-- she's got a natural talent. 

HodaKotb: Dee, what do you think?  What-- what-- where do you see your daughter in ten years, at 18?

Dee Causey: Truthfully, at 16 I see her getting a-- a big racecar.

But hang on a second.  This is still an eight year old girl driving up to -60- miles an hour... Crashes on these tracks aren't common among kids, but they have happened.

HodaKotb: There are countless parents who are gonna be watching this, saying, "These two people are crazy, letting their daughter get into a car and go that fast."  And you know, with all the-- safety precautions in the world, bad things happen.  What would you say to parents like that?

Rette Causey: You know, she broke her arm skating.  I'm more worried about her skating.  We don't let her go skating.  We didn't let her go skating before coming up here, because we don't want her to hurt or break anything-- you know, not be able to race, not the other way around. If you were to look at the inside of her car, she has a-- a head halo, they call it, and she has a-- a pad this thick, with a-- a-- aluminum brace. And you hook these snaps she snaps this side of the helmet in a wreck, this strap stops it from extending too far forward.

Macy Causey: It's like, if you like, slam on your brakes, or like-- you got-- you get in a wreck, your head doesn't like…

HodaKotb: Snap.

Rette Causey: Snap.

HodaKotb: Oh, okay.

Macy Causey: --when you pull back.

HodaKotb: So, you can't move your head when you're in that car?

Macy Causey: Only--

HodaKotb: It's kinda bolted in?

Macy Causey: --only a little bit to see the mirrors, If like someone's behind me, I have to stay on the right.

Hoda Kotb: Yeah?

Macy Causey: And if like, if they pass on me, I just duck down.

Macy can duck, but can she and her parents steer clear of the challenges that some child athletes face?

Mark Hyman: Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that children are children, they're not mini-adults in sports uniforms. 

Sports journalist Mark Hyman is the author of the book, "Until It Hurts: America's Obsession With Youth Sports, And How It Harms Our Kids."

Mark Hyman: My concerns are about the health of kids, that we not lose sight of the fact that they are children, and that-- they have the-- the physical limitations and emotional limitations of children, that they're not adults, and that when we expect them to act in that way, we can be putting them at risk.

But Macy's parents seem to know when to put on the brakes.

Rette Causey: It's hard not to wanna push her into racing.  But-- if she ever says no, then we'll stop.

Hoda Kotb: Uh-huh.

Rette Causey: You know, right now, she's-- she loves it.  She likes doing it.  So, we'll keep on getting after it.

Hoda Kotb: It's all up to her.

Rette Causey: Yeah, it is.

As Macy straps herself in for this week's race down in Concord, N.C., she's got her engines revved up and is ready to zoom past anyone who gets in her way.

Hoda Kotb: When you're out there, and the boys see that there's a girl getting in her car, what do they think of you?

Macy Causey: They say, "I'm gonna beat this girl."  But they're probably not.

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