Reese Nobles Interview with Cassie Gannis
from: Beyond The Grandstand
Cassie Gannis is a young, upcoming “Race Car” driver from Arizona with experience in various types of cars, various tracks and a plethora of different racing series and has been successful is each. Apart from racing, Cassie wears many hats; she is a proponent of safe driving and works as a vet technician to fund her racing dreams. Recently, Cassie and I discussed her on track career and a select few off-track subjects.
Reese Nobles: Cassie, coming from out west in Arizona, how did you first get involved in motorsports and when did you know that this is what you want to do with your life?
Cassie Gannis: I learned about racing at a very young age! My dad was racing a Modified as a hobby and my mom took me to the track to see him race. I just thought it was the coolest thing! I was very young-maybe 3 or 4. After that, it was all I wanted to do! I wanted to watch it on TV and wanted to go to the track. I made pretend NASCAR races in the street with the other kids in the neighborhood using our bikes. My mom will tell you all I wanted to do was watch cars go around in circles!
Nobles: You are part of a young group of female drivers providing role models to little girls around America, who were some of your role models both inside and outside of motorsports?
Gannis: One of my biggest role models is my sister! She works hard and is able to overcome obstacles with a positive attitude. We are very close.
In racing, I look up to Sarah Fisher because when I raced quarter midgets she took the time to stop and talk to me about my car. It was a pretty big deal. Sarah has worked her way up through the ranks to being a team owner in the Indy Series through hard work.
Other female drivers who have been mentors to me are Jennifer Jo Cobb and Leilani Münter. They have been very available to answer questions and give guidance.
Nobles: So far You have raced ARCA, K&N, Whelen All-American, INEX Legends, INEX Bandoleros, Trucks and Quarter Midgets. What do you take from each of these steps in your career and which if a single one was your favorite?
Gannis: Each series has brought me to where I am today. Each series was a chance to develop as a driver. I look back and love my time in the Legends. They are just so much fun to race!
Nobles: You were part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity for three years, attending the combine in 2009, 2010 and 2011, what did you learn in the combine and how do you feel it helped you grow both on and off the track?
Gannis: The great thing about the combine is seeing all the other up and coming drivers preforming their best in one place. the honor to be included is overwhelming! I was one of the youngest to be invited so it was really exciting to be in a field with such talent. You can takeaway a lot from an experience like that!
Nobles: A lot of younger drivers have regular jobs away from the track, you are a vet technician when you are not behind the wheel, what exactly is that like and why did you choose to do this away from the track?
Gannis: I love racing! But I also love animals!!!! As a teen, I always volunteered at a local zoo and pet sat. So when I wanted to make racing a career I thought I better have a plan B just in case. Working allows me to have the best of both worlds! Yes, I have to work very long hours and take side jobs to pet or ranch sit but it is worth it. ! I have a saying, “will work for car parts.” I am an advocate for rescue animals. All my personal pets are rescued. I have also fostered many cuties and gotten them placed in loving homes! Because I race and work it really doesn’t leave much time for a social life. But I don’t mind.
Nobles: The safe driving program you are involved with is great, what does the program do and what is your role in it?
Gannis: The main goal is to just “save lives! it is important to educate people about NOT TEXTING and DRIVING! My program has grown to include distracted driving. Senseless accidents happen all the time, killing innocent bystanders and changing lives forever! It just needs to stop. And it really is such an easy answer! PUT THE PHONE DOWN!
Nobles: In 2012, you won “Most Popular Driver” in the K&N West Series, what do you think set you apart from the rest of the field in the eyes of the fans and what about you endeared yourself to the fans?
Gannis: The award meant so very much to me! I am very grateful to be allowed to race. And my fans are a huge part of that! Without their support I couldn’t do what I love to do! I enjoy reaching out to my fans. I try my best to engage with them on the track, off the track and on forms of social media. I am one of those people that enjoy talking to people. It is great to talk to fans about general subjects, racing, avoiding distracted driving and saving rescue animals. Another thing I really love to do is visit military bases, attend charity causes and community events. I never feel like it is a chore because you get back so much more that you actually give. In our family we were raised to give back just because and I think my fans think that is endearing.
One of the things I hear a lot about myself from people is that they love my smile and my approachability. Those would be some things I am known for on and off the track.
Nobles: In K&N you raced both Ford and Chevrolet, of course often times fans of these two manufacturers are split. If you had to personally pick either Ford or Chevy which one are you going with?
Gannis: Oh geez that is a really hard question!!!! Each one has its advantage and disadvantages. I don’t think I could pick one.
Nobles: In 2013, you were one of nine drivers invited to attend the PEAK Stock Car Dream 3-day battle instructed by Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr and Brian Vickers, what exactly was involved in this and what do you think you learned via this experience?
Gannis: That was such a fun event. 10 top up and coming drivers were invited to attend a 3 day battle. We raced karts, competed in a reaction time course, and raced a road course. Having the caliber of coaches there was so valuable! Being able to pick their brains was awesome. I got the most feedback from Clint Bowyer and I really learned a lot.
Nobles: Finally, What does the 2016 season hold for Cassie Gannis?
Gannis: Well I am very excited to be racing in the ARCA Series. A press release will be available soon.
Follow Cassie on Twitter @CassieGannis
Check out her official website www.cassiegannisracing.com