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FEATURE

Into the Slipstream

Cassie Gannis is Full Speed Ahead

By Adam Riley, Dec. 2015

 

Bumper to bumper three cars race.  Straight in a row, tight like a rope, only a paper-thin space separates them.  Their speeds increase to upwards of 180mph.  Like a high-speed freightliner riding a rail, the cars smooth in an apex composed of thirty degree banked pavement.  The gravitational force pushes them to the ground; starving for traction they race inches from scraping the concrete sidewall.  The surrounding air pressure creates a tunnel as they slipstream into the straight stretch.  A hundred and fifty miles to go, competing against thirty five more vehicles, it’s a patient, deadly game to push past to a podium finish.  But here, Cassie Gannis isn’t letting up on the gas.

 

Concentration, focus and determination are all factors when piloting a 200mph racecar.  For Cassie, her skills were certainly not obtained during a weekend training course.  Her journey has been a long road of challenges on and off the track.

 

 

Growing up, Cassie tagged along with her father to the local Arizona raceways of Canyon Speedway Park and Manzanita Speedway, as he raced dwarf cars and circle track modifieds’.  Watching from pit-side, thoughts of racing bellowed inside her.  But there was an immediate problem; she was threatened by a condition of severe asthma and scoliosis.

 

Although with risks present, the negatives didn’t let ambition be pushed aside.  At the age of ten, her father agreed to let Cassie take the wheel.  Selling off his racecars to help out, he began Cassie with a “Midget” style racecar and let her venture out to the local dirt tracks.  By the age of thirteen, she migrated to asphalt racing and during this time, competed with a Bandelaro,” (A small-scale stock car), then she eventually moved into a “Legend” series car (A classic styled body car).

 

Racing the Legend series, Cassie overcame the challenges of racing while honing in her skills.  Finally after a few years, she and her father decided it was time to move up to a full-scale racecar.  Beginning with an ASA (American Speed Association) Pro Series truck, Cassie’s high-speed venture was off to a positive start – until unexpectedly, her health took a turn for the worse, when she was diagnosed with a life-threatening curvature in her spine.  Surgery was imminent and Cassie was immediately pulled out of the drivers seat.

 

Eight strenuous months of recovery followed the surgery, yet before anyone realized, Cassie was gripping the wheel once again.  She reconditioned by competing a few races back with the “Legend” cars – although, after previously tasting the higher speeds in the ASA Truck Series, she knew a stock car was in the cards.  So she and her dad purchased a full-scale stock car and at just sixteen years old, Cassie entered the NASCAR “Whelen All-America Series.”  From that point on, she’s been full throttle ahead.

 

 

 

To this day, Cassie has achieved an impressive list of accolades such as competing in the Peak Series “Stock Car Dream Challenge” in North Carolina for a chance to become a Michael Waltrip Racing Development Driver.  Being awarded the NASCAR K&N Pro Series “West Most Popular Driver” as voted on by fans.  Along with eight career K&N West Series starts in 2011 and 2012.  Currently, she’s owns a 600 horsepower Chevy Impala stock car, purchased and built by Cassie, her dad and Crew Chief.  This car is fully spec’d for ARCA (Automobile Club of America) and NASCAR racing with the help of LFR Chassis contribution to the build.

 

One of her most memorable moments she recalls is the recent qualifying for the 2015, Lucas Oil 200, at Daytona Speedway.  “It’ a great experience that you just cannot prepare for.”  She said.

 

 Daytona is such an intimidating track . . . You have to prepare and learn how to drift on this track.”

 

She continued, “Most people don’t realize that Daytona is a massive track . . . Overall, two miles long, with extremely steep banks in the corners.”

 

 

Along with competing in the ARCA and NASCAR racing series, Cassie is focusing on the community as a motivational speaker for those battling heath issues related to scoliosis.  Recently, she’s attended several seminars’ addressing those of all ages from Arizona to California.  Plus, she’s begun a start-up safety program named “No Texting and Driving,” which is focuses on safe driving habits.

 

With an amazing smile, humble personality and dedication to racing, this girl is holding the key to great career.  So we have to ask; “What’s Next?” Cassie shared with us that in late 2015 she’s planning on running the NASCAR “Camping World Truck Series”, and continuing on by participating in the 2016 series.  She says, “I like the adrenaline rush, and you never know what’s going to happen next.”   Of course, this is true for all things in life, but just like being in the slipstream -- you have to go with the flow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Name: Cassie Gannis

Age: 24

State:  Arizona

Instragram: @cassiegannis

Facebook:  /cassiegannis

 

 

 

 

 

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