Chasing the Dream: Cassie Gannis

She’s an animal lover, a daughter, a friend and a racer. Cassie Gannis knew she wanted to get behind the wheel at a young age and when she finally got her chance, her life was never the same.

“I got started in racing by watching my Dad race his Dwarf car at Manzanita Raceway. After that, all I wanted to do was watch racing,” Gannis said. “While my sister was watching Sesame Street, all I wanted to do was watch cars go around in circles!”

Every weekend, Gannis would ask her parents to turn on the race. When she played outside, she would race the neighborhood kids on her bike. Racing was in her blood before she even got behind the wheel for herself. At 10 years old, Gannis found herself in a quarter midget car for the first time and like they say, the rest is history.

Gannis took the quarter midget world by storm shortly after she got behind the wheel. Consistently placing in the top-5, Gannis moved up the ranks. In 2003, she earned the Arizona State Championship in the Bandolero Series. In 2005, she moved up to Legends where she earned Rookie of the Year honors. At 16, she earned her NASCAR License and became the youngest female to compete at Tucson Raceway Park. Gannis was making a name for herself in the world of racing and people were beginning to notice.

In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Gannis was one of thirty drivers chosen for NASCAR’s “Drive for Diversity” program and by 2012, she was racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West where she was voted as their “Most Popular Driver,” a moment that she says is one of the biggest moments in her career. As her NASCAR career continues to grow, Gannis is learning firsthand just how important sponsorship really is.

“It is very hard to find sponsors for a small team,” Gannis said about sponsorship. “We are just a family owned/low budget team and we don’t have the marketing resources that others may have.”

Throughout her racing career, her family has been by her side. With a big family work ethic and strong values, her family is always pitching in to help with her race team.

Gannis has had the opportunity to talk with different race teams but a racing resume can only go so far without sponsorship backing.

“As a driver I want and would love to move up in NASCAR,” Gannis said. “I have interviewed with teams and have been offered rides based on my racing resume but you still need to bring sponsorship dollars along for the ride.”

In 2013, Gannis had the opportunity of a lifetime when she was one of nine drivers chosen to compete in the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge in Charlotte, North Carolina. Handpicked by PEAK and Driver/Owner Michael Waltrip, Gannis competed in a 3-day “Showdown in Charlotte” with instruction from NASCAR stars Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers.

The showdown, which aired on SPEED in early August, was a great opportunity for Gannis to show off her talents to some of NASCAR’s most influential people.

“First off, it was so wonderful for PEAK to provide such a wonderful opportunity,” Gannis said, thinking back to the challenge. “It was great to get the fans involved in voting and it was a lot of fun to be so engaged with them on social media. PEAK and Michael Waltrip provided an opportunity for the top nine drivers to showcase their talent. It was such an honor to be called to North Carolina. It was an experience I will never forget!”

Without the love and support from her family, friends, mentors and fans, opportunities like the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge would not have been possible.

“They (my family) have always been by my side supporting me every step of the way,” Gannis said. “Monty Shaw has been with me working on all my cars since Quarter Midgets. I also have a few mentors that I look up and I frequently call. One is Christi Edelbrock. She is a great sounding board for any questions or concerns I may have.”

When she is not in the car or at the racetrack, Gannis is spending time with her family, friends and pets.

“I love spending time with my dogs! I have 3 great rescue pets. All from shelters. Their names are Hobo, Coco and Oreo.”

For Gannis, her dream is clear and something she strives for each and every day. She dreams of one day working her way up through the ranks of NASCAR and in to the Sprint Cup Series, winning races and championships for her sponsor, team and fans.

Gannis is no doubt one of the future stars in the stock car industry, as it won’t be long before she will be making national headlines.

Katie Copple
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