Sean Cassidy Chases Crew Chief Career On Track and Off
Monday, June 30, 2003
Outlaw racer Sean Cassidy of Martinez takes a deep breath before patiently explaining to an onlooker that his Bandolero machine isn¿t a ¿kiddie car.¿
¿Sometimes people don¿t take the Bandolero cars seriously, but these things are far more than just a go-kart with a body on them,¿ Cassidy said. ¿Bandoleros have a 570cc, 30 horsepower engine. I¿ve had quite an education just learning to run this car well.¿
Even though INEX rules (the sanctioning body for Legends, Bandolero and Roadster racing) dictate that the youngest drivers must start in Bandolero cars, that doesn¿t necessarily mean they¿re easier to drive. In fact, many of Atlanta Motor Speedway¿s Thursday Thunder drivers, like Cassidy, are quick to point out the skill level needed to drive a Bandolero car.
¿The Bandolero cars are far harder to drive than the Legends cars,¿ said Pro Legends competitor and 2001 Bandolero Young Guns Georgia State Champion Chris Dilbeck. ¿I almost think the kids should be in Legends and then the older guys should be racing Bandos.¿
Cassidy, an 18-year-old sophomore at Georgia Southern University, has more on his mind than racing his Bandolero: he¿s working toward a mechanical engineering degree he hopes will give him the knowledge to excel in NASCAR. While many of Thursday Thunder¿s younger drivers are looking to become the next Jeff Gordon, Cassidy has other plans. He¿d much rather be the next Robbie Loomis.
¿I¿m concentrating on my education right now more than anything,¿ Cassidy said. ¿You look at crew chiefs like Bootie Barker and Matt Borland and you see where a good education can get you. Ryan Newman has the advantage of his mechanical engineering degree, and he shows it on track.¿
With a strong background in engineering, Cassidy is hoping he can eventually break into Winston Cup racing and score a job manning the pit box through some uncertain connections.
¿I¿ve got a friend of a friend-type situation with Jack Roush¿s Greg Biffle team,¿ Cassidy said. ¿And I¿m just going to try to pull a co-op or something out of that if I can. The key is getting your foot in the door.¿
In addition to school, Cassidy is also concentrating on having as much fun at the race track as he can. He is a one-man crew, often going to the track by himself and working on the car as much as he¿s driving it, one reason he¿s been hesitant about moving up to the Legends divisions.
¿Legends cars have a lot more stuff to tear up,¿ Cassidy said. ¿The Bandoleros are much more money-efficient for me and easy to work on. The Legends cars are just a little too expensive for me at this point in my life. I¿d love to race a Legends car, but somebody else is going to have to pay for it and I¿d miss the Bandoleros. They¿re a lot of fun without too much worry.¿
Cassidy¿s Bandolero career is aided by a sponsorship from Tire Kingdom, where he also draws his bi-weekly paycheck. His early days in Bandoleros were also sponsored by someone he¿s worked for all of his life ¿ his father.
¿My dad bought my Bandolero car,¿ Cassidy said. ¿But now I¿m a little older and if I wanted to go out and buy a Legends, I¿d have to do it on my own, so it¿s not something I¿ve thought about. I enjoy racing Outlaws too much to pay to see if I¿d like something else better. I¿m a college kid, you know, we¿re known for having no money.¿
Cassidy only runs his Bandolero during Thursday Thunder, choosing to focus on one track and one championship instead of driving at several tracks as many drivers do.
¿At a lot of other tracks they regulate things differently, and you end up with a situation where you have to use the same gears and the same everything,¿ Cassidy said. ¿It comes to the point the guy who wins is the guys who cheats the best. In the end, it¿s too much trouble to run anywhere else.¿
Cassidy believes Atlanta Motor Speedway¿s Thursday Thunder series offers the best racing for his dollar, and it gives the fans a good show, too.
¿As a driver, you get to really drive at Atlanta, and the best driver wins every time,¿ Cassidy said. ¿There aren¿t always a ton of cars in Outlaws division, but the ones who come every week are good. There¿s no separation like in the other divisions; no one gets lapped in Outlaws and anyone could take the lead at anytime.¿
Cassidy is ranked fifth nationally in the Outlaws division and is second in points at Thursday Thunder, the 10-week summer series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This Thursday, 11 Alive presents the Adesa Atlanta Fireworks and Racing Spectacular at Thursday Thunder.
Gates open at 6 p.m. every Thursday through Aug. 5 and action begins immediately. Feature races begin at 7:30 p.m. and conclude by 10:30 p.m. Fireworks will follow on July 3. Tickets can be purchased at Gate 13 on event nights, and adults are just $5, children 6-11 $1, and children 5 and under are free.