IS CHRIS GANSEN UP TOO DURING CORONAVIRUS
By Scott Daloisio
(Perris, CA, April 21, 2020)
Round #2 of interviews with Perris Auto
Speedway racers about what they are doing
during the coronavirus is on USAC/CRA
Sprint Car driver Chris Gansen. Coming off
a career-best fifth-place finish in the
championship standings, Gansen was excited
when the season opened, but now, like
everyone else, he is left to wonder and
hope when he will be able to get back on
Chris Gansen racing off of turn two at
Perris Auto Speedway in 2019. Doug Allen
The PAS: Last year you had your
best ever finish in the USAC/CRA Series
when you finished fifth. You get all fired
up for this year and now you are forced to
sit. How frustrating is it for you?
It is pretty frustrating. Especially with
some of the racetracks that are probably
going to cancel being some of the better
tracks that I run. We have got a brand-new
car sitting in the shop ready to go and we
are just looking at it.
Hopefully, you are not going to be looking
at it sitting there for too long.
Yeah, hopefully, it is not too long. I
think we are probably looking at another
three or four weeks before we know what we
are going to do.
You did start the season off with a couple
of races at Canyon Speedway Park in
Arizona and had a ninth-place finish on
the second night. But you were kind of
shorthanded there, correct?
We sold a couple of cars at the end of
last year and there was a lot of new cars
sold through Maxim. We did not get our new
car until two days before we had to go to
Canyon. So, we never got a chance to put
it together. When we got back from Canyon,
we got it (the new car) all powder coated
and ready to go. Now it is just like a
show car sitting here.
Your brother Donnie ran the Oval Nationals
last year. Will he be racing again in
Gansen: It is just going to be me.
That was just kind of a one-time deal for
my brother at the Oval Nationals.
The coronavirus is keeping a lot of people
home these days. Are you able to work?
Yeah, I am currently working. I am in the
road building industry. We are still
working full force ahead right now. It is
pretty difficult. We have had to adjust
with everything that’s going on in the
world. It definitely puts some hiccups in
what we do, but we are trying to push
forward with the infrastructure of the
The PAS: Away from work what are
you doing at home to occupy the time? Are
you getting to spend a lot of time with
your son Landon?
Yeah, he is five years old. He is
currently right behind me playing with all
of his diecast sprint cars of everybody. I
spend a lot of time with him and my wife
when I am not working. My little guy goes
everywhere with me.
You said he is playing with his diecast
sprint cars. Does that mean you win all
No, dad does not win every race. Believe
it or not, dad crashes a lot it seems
like! Damion Gardner seems to win a lot
and Austin Williams wins a lot. He also
has a Donnie Schatz car that wins a lot.
PAS: He is racing diecast, but
hasn’t he started racing quarter-midgets
Yes, yes. We were going to run two days
with him at the end of March.
Unfortunately, those dates were canceled.
We did a lot of practicing with him over
the winter and he progressed really quick.
He is just a little bummed because he
cannot race. He is really excited to go.
They have shut down the quarter-midget
track (on the Orange Show Grounds) so we
cannot practice with him either. He is
pretty wound up and wanting to go racing,
but he is stuck at home.
Your mom and dad are a big and popular
part of the USAC/CRA family. What are they
doing at the present time?
Dad is still working as he is also in the
road-building business. Mom has been
watching my son because my wife is in the
medical industry. She has been watching my
little man and keeping him occupied.
Talking about your wife and medical
prompts the asking of a question. Have you
hidden the cheese grater?
Yeah, after last night’s little incident
the cheese grater has been put up.
For those who do not know what we are
talking about, the night before we did
this interview, your wife suffered a
rather nasty cut while using the cheese
grater and you were pressed into emergency
action. You would make a good nurse.
Fortunately, in the industry I am in, we
have had to do a lot of first aid
training. Last night was actually one of
the first times I had to use it. I was out
in the garage and she came out with a rag
full of blood and needed help. It wasn’t
pretty and it was painful, too.
Late last year or earlier this year, you
stated this would be your last season
racing sprint cars. Has that changed since
the coronavirus has affected the schedule?
It is something I will look into depending
on what happens. We were planning on
calling it quits from full-time racing at
the end of this year. With what it looks
like, we are going to move that up for one
more season and I will come back for 2021
because I want to run a full season. We
want to compete for a championship.
You just said, “calling it quits from
full-time racing.” Does that mean you
would still do some racing after 2021?
Yes, there is still a few things that I
want to do during my racing career. I
really want to go run the Chili Bowl, run
the Florida deal (start of the USAC
National Sprint Car Season) and the
Indiana Sprint Week deal. I do want to
focus my time (after 2021) on my son’s
racing. There is a National Quarter Midget
Series that does a lot of traveling. It
almost lines up with what has historically
been the USAC Florida Sprint Car races.
And, there is some big USAC Quarter Midget
races around Indiana Sprint Week. We are
looking at making those multi-week
You have raced in the USAC/CRA Series a
relatively short period of time, but you
have been racing for quite some time. Give
us a rundown on your career. How long and
what have you raced?
I started 25-years ago racing quarter
midgets at Pomona. Ran quarter midgets for
some years and won some state
championships. Then I took a few years
break. I wanted to go play baseball with
all of my friends and do some other
things. I just could not do both. After a
couple years I really missed racing. So, I
started racing 250 micros. I won a decent
amount of races with that. Then I moved
into a 600 micro for a couple of seasons
because I was not old enough to race in
the California Lightning Sprints. In 2006
we moved up to the California Lightning
Sprints and I won a feature and was
“Rookie of the Year.” I ran a partial
season with the Lightning Sprints in 2007
and we sold our operation. My brother went
sprint car racing and I went midget
racing. We ran midgets for quite some
years and unfortunately in 2010 (USAC
National Midget race at The PAS in
February) I hurt my neck. It was actually
a rain delay from Saturday, and we ran on
Sunday. If it had not gotten rained out,
we would have not made it. That was
probably the shortest life span of any
race car I have ever owned. Fortunately,
everything on the racecar did its job and
I was able to survive the crash. Fourteen
months later I was back in a racecar and
it was something I probably was never
supposed to do again (after the initial
prognosis). The Midget Series had kind of
fallen apart and the car count really went
down. So, we sold our cars to a guy in New
Zealand. We ran some 360-sprint car stuff
in 2012. We did that for two or three
seasons, and I think it was 2015 that I
started racing USAC/CRA. It is a lot
closer to home. We kind of got over the
traveling with the 360 and I always wanted
to go 410 racing. At that time, my brother
decided to stop racing, so it allowed us
to focus on the 410 deal.
I know you do not do this all by yourself.
Who are the people you would like to
Gansen: I could not do this without
Tom and Kevin Malloy of Trench Shoring.
They are a long-time sponsor of me, and I
am just so thankful for them. I want to
thank Kistler Race Engines. Paul and Stew
Kistler. They help us out quite a bit.
Cook King Stainless Steel Fabricators,
Circle Track Performance with Mel Murphy.
Mel has been a big supporter of mine. King
Racing Products and BR Motorsports, they
are a huge part of our deal. Keizer
Wheels, Cash Graphics. Mark Priestly owned
sprint cars for a long time. He has
partnered with us and helped us. My mom
and dad. I think my dad has owned cars for
34 or 35 years now. He drives it and my
mom supports. My wife and my son. My crew
chief Jeff Gardner and all the guys that
work on the car. Kenny Perkins is a real
big part in helping me with the week to
week operations and keeping everything
together. It is definitely a team deal and
a lot of work. A lot of people sacrifice a
lot of time with their family to do this.
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