Apparently, Cassie Gannis loves proving people wrong.

It is humanly possible to work 16-hour days, meet with students about texting and driving, and make stock car racing a career.

It is a lot to handle but it is the career path Gannis, a 2009 Desert Vista graduate, has chosen.

The racing part is her true passion and began out of osmosis as her father, John, was a Manzanita Raceway regular. He raced, she watched.

Until one day.

“I always went with my dad and I’d ask to race,” Gannis said. “He’d say that I only wanted to do it because it was something he did. Finally, at about 10 I ran my first race in the quarter midget and I was hooked.”

And she really hasn’t stopped since, other than on the days she is studying to be a veterinarian technician — hence the 16-hour days — or taking the time to visit local schools in order to talk about her other passion.

“Everyone my age or younger has a cell phone and a car,” Gannis said. “They don’t mix. People think they can take two seconds to look at their phone, but they don’t realize how far you can travel on the highway in two seconds.

“I am really proud of doing it. If one person can think twice before answering their text then it is all worth it.”

Gannis, 21, has finished her schooling to be a veterinarian tech, but is in the middle of her internship, which exposes her to everyday issues that pet owners go through along with their pet’s ailments. It’s not always an easy time emotionally, but it seems to be her calling.

“It’s my second love,” she said. “It definitely wears me out. Luckily, I’ve always been able to get by with a little sleep. It’s been a great experience.”

Some might see it as Gannis acknowledging that her racing career has hit a crossroads, but she sees it another way.

“I can balance both, and I basically already am,” Gannis said. “I haven’t reached a point where my racing career can support me fully. This is a good compromise, and I will be to do both.”

The racing end of it is where Gannis has spent the most time, and it is definitely a family affair.

Gannis, who occasionally appears on local TV and radio shows as a NASCAR analyst, has a good crew with her mom, Kathy, as her manager and her father as her spotter on race day.

“From a young age Cassie always knew her passion,” her mother said. “She has always had the dream to make it to the Cup Series and it is her dedication, work ethic and passion that will get her there.”

Ever since joining the Lyn St. James driver development program in 2006 Gannis has had the eyes of racing teams on her career.

She was an honored guest at the Women in the Winners Circle Celebration Luncheon in 2007, has attended NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Combine, and since 2010 she has been a professional instructor for Basic Car Maintenance.

Along the way, Gannis has competed in the INEX Bandolero and Legends Series, ASA Speed Truck Series, and has been part of the NASCAR series since 2007.

She has made her way up to the K&N Pro Series West Car for GSR Racing with her eye on the NASCAR Truck Series before moving to the very top of NASCAR.

“I’ve heard a lot of negativity in every series as I move up,” Gannis said. “I’ve had to prove myself and face it head on and let them know I won’t be pushed around. I am not going to stop until I get where I want to go.

“I want to be in the Truck Series in five or six years, but you can move fast once you get on the right path and I think we are right there.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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