Ahwatukee Foothills resident Cassie Gannis recently returned from her weekend trip to “Sin City” where she competed at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, formally known as “The Bullring.”

Gannis, 21, has always had a passion when it came to being behind the wheel racing cars, dating back to when she was 10 years old and beginning her racing career in the Quarter Midget Series.

She was introduced to the sport by her father, who used to race cars at Canyon Speedway Park.

Gannis remembers at a young age tagging along with her father, wanting to be in the driver’s seat and race.

When she turned 16, she received her NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) license allowing her to compete in the NASCAR Super Late Model Series, where she became the youngest female driver to compete at Tucson Raceway Park.

Throughout the years Gannis has been making a name for herself in the sport, receiving honors such as being voted Most Popular Driver of the Year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West for 2012.

Although Gannis has competed in many races and events throughout her prospering career, “The Bullring” event she participated in last Saturday in Vegas holds a different sentimental memory.

During the race her car sported new sponsorships from three different organizations — the yarnellfallenfirefighter.com, 100 Club, and the Wildland Firefighters Foundation.

The three sponsorships are charitable websites, with the Yarnell website created by the United Phoenix Firefighters Association supporting the 19 firefighter’s families who lost their loved ones this summer.

The idea for Gannis to have the charitable websites as sponsors came about when Jack Cater, a 34-year-old veteran of the Champaign Fire Department in Illinois, tweeted the young-rising star on spreading the word of a good cause.

“We just got to talking and he thought it would be cool to put the 19 firefighters on the hood of the car, and I thought it was a great idea, too,” Gannis said.

Having the sponsors on her car meant the world to Gannis due to the fact that she knows many firefighters and the type of work they do each day.

“They sacrifice their lives every day to do what they love.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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