Spotlighting: Cassie Gannis
For this month of October 2018; our ‘Interview Spotlight’ is shining on Professional Race Car Driver “Cassie Gannis” who I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing for our magazine.
Who Is Cassie Gannis?
The Modesty and brilliance of stock car racing – is what we see when we peel the American frontier back on itself. Amid a heightened sense of velocity and opportunity, we see the unmistakable hard work of champions (incomparable in skill, fearless in heart). When we take a closer look, we notice the face of Motorsports now has a glow: due in large part to a driver who has more than earned the respect of her peers, supporters, and fans. Her heart is kind, her race is fierce… and her name is Cassie Gannis.
For those familiar with Cassie’s racing style, it’s refreshing to see that she can go the distance; however, she’s more than just a top contender with a list of impressive credits. Cassie is not a meer ‘Racer’, she’s more of an ‘Acer’. She’s the one who waves her own checkered flag to the evolution of a sport with historic origins that include red dirt, cork-lined helmets, and bathing-beauties. Gannis is a true racer in every sense of the title: strong-willed, elite automotive IQ, and a passion to win. During her career, Cassie has amassed experiences, accolades, and honors; all of which could very easily run a race of their own. With professional experiences which include: NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, ARCA, INEX, Peak Stock Car Dream Challenge, and ASA, Cassie has remained humble and has decided to use her celebrity to help others overcome the difficulty of winning their own race.
Cassie Gannis – has indeed developed the skill of a professional—but not without first paying a price! Although masterful at professional ‘bump-and-run’ maneuvers made to look like child’s play, she has fought serious personal battles (and won). Overcoming asthma, dyslexia and undergoing Scoliosis treatment and surgery, to emerge a selfless humanitarian; it seems naturally fitting that she shares her story as a tool of inspiration to help others battle adversity. As a motivational speaker and advocate for people undergoing Scoliosis surgery, Cassie uses her own experience to become a ray of hope for people with serious health issues
(check out – Cassie Gannis: My Scoliosis Story at cassiegannis.com).
As someone who has seen her share of bad turns, it’s honorable to witness a display of determination that gives a leg up to others along their journey. This proves – that what we have in Cassie, is the caliber of athlete who shows up with race-only tires for a race that transcends her sport; she also embodies the spirit of ‘win-only’ humanitarian acts that prove she’s not too busy to champion a worthy cause. Be it her role as a course instructor, advocate, ambassador, military tour headliner, or even the owner of her own NASCAR Super Late Model – Team #47 – Cassie Gannis has become a household name and symbol of what humility under pressure looks like. Her brand of courage and compassion continue to carry her across finish lines that salute her skill on the track as a close-second to the ease in which she exalts humanity above the reward of excellence. When we watch Cassie Gannis navigating her way through a professional race, we’re witnessing a woman who can put her setbacks aside in order to put her heart on the line for the ultimate win. She Is Without Limits; creating a unique brand of noise that distinguishes her from the crowd.
Here is our ‘Spotlight Interview’ with Cassie Gannis
- Trainer Z: Cassie; before we venture into the life and times of you ‘The Person’ and you ‘The Professional’, are there any events and/or projects you have coming up?
Cassie: This year I will continue to race my ‘NASCAR Super Late Model’ at Tucson Speedway, and pick up some NASCAR K&N West races. I hope to compete in a ‘NASCAR Camping World Truck’ or ‘Xfinity’ race late this year, or next year. I will continue my work with supporting rescue causes like ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’ with the ‘Arizona Humane Society’. I will also continue sharing my Scoliosis Journey with others living with Scoliosis.
- Trainer Z: What is the one word you would use to define yourself, and why?
Cassie: The word I would use to describe myself is ‘MOTIVATED. I am motivated to dream, work hard, believe, achieve and obtain.
- Trainer Z: You’ve had to contend with your fair share of adversities and challenges in life. Please enlighten us on some of your personal adversities and challenges that you have had to overcome?
Cassie: I was diagnosed with Scoliosis at a very young age. I had to wear a hard-shell back brace from my neck to my lower hips for many years. At the age of 15, I had to undergo corrective scoliosis surgery because my curve had progressed to a 50% left thoracic curve, with a rib hump. My curve was impeding on my heart and lungs (it was time to have the surgery done). During surgery, I had two 12-inch titanium rods placed in my back – which straightened my back and caused me to gain 2 inches of height immediately. I was told I would have to take a year off from racing. The surgery was rough, but my recovery was extraordinary. I worked hard, and healing went very well. I was allowed back into my Legend car at 9 months.
- Trainer Z: You are indeed “Tough Tested! What’s the best personal advice given to you, and by whom?
Cassie: Best personal advice: “Don’t worry about what others think, just worry about what you think. Be accountable to yourself” – Mom.
- Trainer Z: What positive message could you share with someone who’s struggling with low self-esteem and/or social acceptance?
Cassie: Growing up, I had a lot of difficulties learning how to read. In first grade, we had to read out loud to our classmates. I had to memorize a ‘Mercer Mayer’ book that my mom read to me over and over because I knew I could not actually read the book out loud. After I read my book, a kid came up to me and called me stupid for still reading baby books (I still remember the moment to this day, and his name). It was through that – that I learned to hide my reading disorder. I made sure I was a quiet kid in school, and never caused any trouble. During the silent reading time in third grade, I would take a Harry Potter book and just scan my finger down the page slowly and then turn that page pretending to read the book. I had figured out at a very young age how to hide my disability. It was at that time my mom insisted my reading level be tested. My teacher insisted I read just fine, because I was such a good kid during reading time, never acted out and looked like I was reading. Even my teacher had no idea I was faking reading. After being tested I was diagnosed with dyslexia. All through school I was embarrassed about my disability. Along with my scoliosis and wearing a back brace, all I wanted to do was hide. But here is the deal—it does get better! My parents always encouraged me to be a part of a group, and that really helped. When I went to high school, I joined the badminton club. Being a part of a team helped me to make friends. Also, around that time – I got my first cell phone. As I tried to type, auto-correct would fix my misspelled words. That visual cue really helped me get a visual on learning words. Typing in text messages really helped my spelling and word recognition. I guess I would say my poor self-esteem helped by becoming part of a team, and practicing typing helped my reading disability. So, I recommend joining a team, group or club. Don’t give up because you have a disability. KEEP DIGGING!!!
- Trainer Z: Great advice! If you had the authority to change 3 things in the world, what would they be?
– There would be an end to bullying, and people would always be kind to one another.
– There would be an end to animal abuse and every rescue animal would find a permanent family.
– People would communicate verbally instead of using electronic devices with each other.
- Trainer Z: Now let’s talk Motor Racing. What are some professional career accomplishments you’re most proud of?
Cassie: My proudest professional career accomplishment is being named the ‘NASCAR K&N West – Most Popular Driver’. I love interacting with the fans of racing.
I enjoy talking and teaching them about the sport I love. Knowing that fans really appreciate that, is what makes racing more fun.
- Trainer Z: Within the realm of your career as a Professional Race Driver, can you give us an outline, from morning till night of a typical professional day for you?
Cassie: My daily routine involves getting up at 6 AM. As soon as I get up, I feed and walk my dogs. I leave for work at 7:45 AM. I work all day as a Veterinary Technician until 6 PM, and arrive home at 7 PM. I usually grab something quick to eat then work on the race-car for a few hours. I usually got to bed about 11 PM. On race weekends, I sometimes work until 1 PM then head to the track. Once there, we get the pit area set up, practice, tech and then racing!
- Trainer Z: What words of advice or encouragement can you give to aspiring drivers?
Cassie: The best advice I would give aspiring drivers – is to KEEP DIGGING! Racing can be a tough world. Learn as much as you can about race-cars and the series you aspire to be in. You have to be willing to learn, work hard and then gain the respect of other drivers.
- Trainer Z: If not a Professional Race Driver, what do you think would be another ideal profession for you?
Cassie: If I wasn’t a race car driver, I would be a Veterinarian. I am currently a Veterinary Technician and my duties are pretty much like being an animal nurse. I love animals, and one of my passions is helping rescue animals find permanent homes.
- Trainer Z: Now, let’s talk fitness! Knowing that race car drivers are indeed regarded as athletes, how important is the element of fitness for your sport of race car driving?
Cassie: Fitness is very important in racing cars. You must have stamina and core strength to race. Races can be 100 to 500 laps on oval tracks that can be up to 2 miles. Plus, you need to allow for cautions; that means driving a race car at speeds around 200mph. You need to be in peak mental and physical shape, with an ability to make split-second decisions.
- Trainer Z: Share with us some specific details about your current workout routine. What types of exercise, how many days per week do you exercise, and how long are your exercise/workout sessions?
Cassie: I do have a motorsports exercise and fitness program that my sister, Alexis, has set up. Being a top performing athlete herself, she has created a personal exercise program for me – that not only keeps me in shape but doesn’t get boring. I work out consistently five days a week (around working and racing). For cardio, I switch it up between hiking and road cycling. Both of these activities allow me to get my heart rate consistently. I really enjoy hiking in the desert-mountains near my home in Arizona. In the summer, it is boring running on the treadmill at the gym; but in the fall, winter and spring … it’s OUTDOORS I GO! Changing elevations is a great way to really make the workout harder. Pushing yourself up the more difficult trails is not only a workout but a personal accomplishment. Along with the difficulty of the trail walks, I enjoy getting out with my dogs. And my dogs are great at making the workout fun! I also love to swim in the summer as part of my fitness training. Swimming to me is so relaxing. Like many people who meditate or do yoga, I find that swimming is the best way to clear my mind and relax while getting a good workout. Because of the split-second responses I need to make and the mental toll my mind experiences during the race, I find that swimming is a wonderful way to train my mind to focus. My favorite strokes are back and breast. My core training is different from others because I have two titanium rods in my back (from Thoracic 1-12 scoliosis surgery when I was 15 years old). I don’t have much mobility in my back, so I can’t do a back-bend or a very good sit up. So, my core exercises center on plank holds, reverse crunches and scissor kicks.
- Trainer Z: What specific fitness goal(s) are you focused on?
Cassie: As a race-car driver, you need to be an athlete. Studies have shown that on yellow – a racer’s heartbeat and respiration are at a normal number. However, upon seeing the green – the driver goes into that “fight or flight response” where even their vision is keener, while their heart rate and breathing increases. So, for this reason, I am always working on strength and endurance. I also kart for fun to help keep reaction times quick.
- Trainer Z: I often tell people that fitness dedication starts with motivation. Who or what motivates you to workout?
Cassie: When I started moving up in racing series, I was told I needed more upper body strength. I didn’t feel I did, but I decided to start working on my upper body. My sister helped me get started. As my upper body got stronger my endurance got better so I became committed to working harder. In racing, upper body strength and core are very important, so, that keeps me motivated.
- Trainer Z: I often tell people that one of the key elements for staying consistent with working out is accountability. Who keeps you accountable for working out routinely?
Cassie: My sister keeps me accountable. As much as I would like to say ‘myself’, it is really her. If I try and skip a workout, she is on me! My sister has overcome some obstacles in her life, and I always feel like if she can accomplish what she has, then I can get my butt up and move.
- Trainer Z: What genres of music or current songs do you listen to while you’re working out?
Cassie: Country. I listen to country music all the time.
- Trainer Z: What foods do you generally consume within your typical fitness day?
Cassie: Daily, I must be sure I include protein in my diet. My sister helps with my meal plans, and if I hear her say PROTEIN one more time … I probably will scream! The good thing is, I really like proteins; I like eggs, beef, chicken and pork. I also like to prepare meals for myself and my family. If I do say so myself—I am a great BBQ’er! I eat my fair share of veggies and fruits. I personally prefer complex carbs and use whole grain breads. A typical meal day for me would be:
– Breakfast: Burrito (whole wheat tortilla, 1 egg, cheese), juice usually 1 hour after rising
– Snack: Quest Bar
– Lunch: Sandwich (whole wheat turkey, cheese, light mayo), spring garden mix salad with almonds – using pomegranate vinaigrette dressing with water, sports drink (or Pedialyte), trail mix
– Dinner: Chicken, Broccoli, and Carrots
– Snack: (usually) Yogurt with fruit added
- Trainer Z: What nutritional supplements do you take if any?
Cassie: I don’t take any supplements. The important thing for me each day – is to HYDRATE! I lose 7 to 8 pounds of fluid each race; so, I am always carrying a water bottle or sports drink.
- Trainer Z: What sports or outdoor activities do you enjoy playing?
Cassie: I truly (really) like hiking with my dogs. It gives me a great workout and lets me be with my fur babies.
- Trainer Z: What words of encouragement can you share with people who struggle to consistently make fitness a part of their lifestyle?
Cassie: I would say to keep trying, and keep pushing. Even if it is just walking for a few minutes a day. I personally didn’t want to work out when I first started. But, after I got on a routine I enjoyed the feeling it gave me and the results I saw.
Personality and Lifestyle Questions for Cassie
The questions and answers listed below will give us an insightful glimpse into Cassie’s personality and lifestyle. How well can you relate to her?
- Extrovert or Introvert?
- Christmas or Thanksgiving?
– Thanksgiving. I love cooking for my family and friends! I make everything from scratch using my grandmother’s recipes.
- Android or iPhone?
- Cars or SUVs?
- Riding Horses or Riding Motorcycles?
– Riding horses, The other horsepower.
- City Style or Country Style?
– Country Style.
- Cats or Dogs?
– Both… I have all rescue pets! Enzo, a Pitbull mix – named after the dog in the book “Racing in the Rain”. Balto, a Husky – abandoned after a family felt having a puppy was too much work. And then I have a cat, named E.T. (for Extra Toes). He is Polydactyl, and has 6 toes on each foot (2 toes shy of the record).
- Lions or Tigers?
- Camping Out or Hotels with Room Service?
– Hotels with Room Service.
- Indoor Rock/Wall Climbing or Indoor Skydiving?
– Indoor Rock/Wall Climbing
- Boot Camp Workout Class or Yoga Class?
– Yoga Class
- Elliptical or Treadmill?
- Paintings or Sculptures?
- Coloring Book or Canvas Painting?
– Coloring Book
- Crossword Puzzles or Jigsaw Puzzles?
– Jigsaw Puzzles
- Board Games or Video Games?
– Board Games
- Card Games or Dominoes?
– I love getting together with friends and playing ‘Cards Against Humanity’.
- Checkers or Chess?
- Comedy Club or Music Lounge?
– Comedy Club
- Live Plays or Movies?
- Dresses or Pants?
- Shorts or Skirts?
- Shoes or Sneakers?
- Jogging or Swimming?
- Nature Hikes or Skiing?
– Nature Hikes
- Jet Skiing or Snowmobiling?
– Jet Skiing
- Laser Tag or Paintball?
– Laser Tag
- Casino Tables or Slot Machines?
– Casino Tables
- Golf Course or Miniature Golf?
– Miniature Golf … You do NOT want to see my golf swing!
- Bowling or Shooting Pool?
- Merry-Go-Rounds or Roller Coasters?
– Merry-Go-Rounds … I am afraid of coasters!
- Bumper Cars or Pedal Boats?
– Bumper Cars
- Candle Light Dinners or Picnics?
– Candlelight Dinners
- Salad or Sandwich?
- Hamburgers or Hot Dogs?
– Hamburgers with LOTS AND LOTS OF DILL PICKLES!
- Pizza or Tacos?
- Beer or Wine?
- Coffee or Tea?
- Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt?
– Ice Cream
- Apple Pie or Peach Pie?
- Apples or Bananas?
- Cherries or Grapes?
- Cold Cereal or Hot Cereal?
– Cold Cereal
- Pancakes or French Toast?
Folks, there you have it! An up close and personal look at Cassie Gannis, that shows us how she gets the most out of life at every turn.
Thank you, Cassie, for taking time out to enlighten and share with us and our readers.
Individuals, businesses, and organizations can contact and/or connect with Cassie via the following: