Sonoma: Gann hopes to win inaugural Pro Stock Motorcycle race

SONOMA, Calif.- What did he say? Shawn Gann's North Carolina accent can be tricky to understand at times. The one thing that is clear about the 24-year-old Pro Stock Motorcycle rider, however, is his ability to speed down the quarter-mile drag ...

SONOMA, Calif.- What did he say? Shawn Gann's North Carolina accent can be tricky to understand at times. The one thing that is clear about the 24-year-old Pro Stock Motorcycle rider, however, is his ability to speed down the quarter-mile drag strip.

"Hey, people don't need to understand what I am saying all the time," Gann said. "They just need to see the numbers our bike can put up. We are consistently one of the fastest bikes out there. And we've got room to improve too."

Gann made his professional debut in 2000, racing in just 12 of the 14 NHRA national events. He finished in eighth place of the standings that season. In 2001, he improved his performance, winning his first national event and going to the final round in three of the final four races. He finished the season No. 5 in the points.

This year the rider of the Gann Speed/Mac Tools Suzuki is mixing it up with the Pro Stock Motorcycle championship contenders. He has been as high as No. 3 in the points, never dipping past the No. 5 spot. He is ready for the two-wheelers to make their category debut at the 15th annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals, Aug. 2-4, at the recently renovated Infineon Raceway. Kenny Bernstein, Del Worsham and Tom Martino are the defending winners of their respective categories in the $1.8 million event. It is the 15th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

During the offseason, Pro Stock Motorcycle was added to the pro category lineup at the Sonoma event.

If anyone can break out of the pack and win the inaugural event featured in the Northern California wine country, Gann said he is the perfect one to do it.

"Sonoma might not be ready for me, but I am going to go there and show them what a Pro Stock Motorcycle can do on a new track," Gann said. "I think that track is going to be just lovely to race on."

Gann has been consistently fast this season, turning in the fastest speeds on Sunday at four events. He has earned the track record for speed at two tracks this season. A win, however, has eluded him so far.

"We'll get there, for sure," Gann said. "We are tweaking our bike a little here and a little there. We went to the final round against Angelle (Savoie) at St. Louis, but we knew there was no way we were going to beat her there. We just have not found the horsepower yet. I said yet. We'll get there, I promise you that.

"Right now Angelle has the bike to beat because they have the right combination and they have all the horsepower. Once we find more power, we already have the speed, then we'll have the perfect bike."

Going to a track that the category has not previously raced on does not bother Gann. In fact, he thinks he can take advantage of the lack of information by all of the teams.

"We just started racing at all of these NHRA tracks not too long ago," Gann said. "When we first started, every track we went to was new to us, and we caught on quick. You have to. If you don't, then it's a short day at the track and a long trip home.

"We drive all of our equipment around the country. I'm not driving all that way to not qualify. That's just not going to happen. We're here to race."

In three years of racing, Gann has never failed to make the elimination round on Sunday. His crew chief is his father, Blake Gann, and they custom build a majority of the equipment they use on the motorcycle. That, Gann said, will eventually be the difference between his setup and the others.

"You won't see us buying our stuff from the Vance & Hines people, no way," Gann said. "Dad and I can do it ourselves. We're not going to stand in line and get the same engine everyone else is buying. Like I keep saying, we already have the speed. We have the best back-half speeds every week. We just need a little more horsepower, and we'll see what happens then."

Gann wants to get his first victory of the season - badly. In fact, there is only one problem with winning a race.

"Yeah, people say that they can't understand my accent," Gann said. "When you win a race, you have to talk to a lot more people than if you lose. When I start talking about racing I get excited and talk fast anyway. But I'll risk it. I'd rather win and have people wondering what I said. I'll be around the NHRA for a while. People will catch on eventually."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Del Worsham , Shawn Gann , Tom Martino