Age Not a Factor at the Summer Shootout Series
At 63, Gary Shannon is one of the oldest drivers competing in the Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but the Legends Car Masters division driver doesn't let his age slow him down.
Shannon, who is an anesthesiologist that focuses on pain management, has a unique style of therapy that he uses to keep both his mind and body in shape. In fact, it has even earned him the nickname "Voodoo Doctor."
No, Shannon does not practice the mysterious Voodoo rituals that have sparked many legends and tall tales throughout the bayous of Louisiana.
Instead, he dabbles in the Chinese healing art of acupuncture, a therapeutic treatment that he says helps him both mentally and physically.
"Acupuncture helps with your concentration and focus and it helps me recover after races," Shannon explained. "I get sore driving these things, so I usually get a treatment after every race. I think it helps a lot. It keeps my attitude young for sure."
Like many of the young drivers that compete in other divisions of the Summer Shootout Series, Shannon got an early start racing go-karts as a kid. However, his tenure as a kid racer didn't last very long. His parents made him stop racing when he was injured at age 8.
More than half a century later, things have come full circle for Shannon who got back into go-kart racing at age 50. Since then Shannon has moved on to Legends Car racing and is enjoying every minute of it.
"I raced go-karts when I was a kid, then I got hurt and my parents made me stop," Shannon said. "When I turned 50 I bought a go-kart, but got hurt again.
"When I saw these cars with roll bars and more safety features I decided to do it. Now, I love racing in the Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It's a great diversion from work and I get to compete against some of the best Legends Car drivers in the world."
Shannon says his patients at Rowan Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, N.C., are surprised to learn of his fast-paced hobby. Some even question if it is safe for him to compete.
"A lot of my patients are frightened that I'm going to get hurt, but so far I've only had one incident; I broke my ankle, but I treated myself and recovered."
Shannon has competed in Summer Shootout every year since 1996, except for the year he had to take off due to the ankle injury. In that time he has amassed more than 50 top-five finishes and two victories.
In 2008 his consistent finishes earned him a 12th-place finish in the Masters division championship standings.
With no plans of quitting anytime soon, Shannon is looking for a top-10 finish in the championship standings this season and says that he'll keep racing until he is no longer competitive.
The 10-week Summer Shootout Series runs each Tuesday night through Aug. 11. Tickets are available in advance at the speedway ticket office and at Gates 4 and 5 on race nights. Parking is free. Admission is just $7 for adults. Children 6-12 are admitted for $3 and kids under 6 are free.
Spectator gates open each Tuesday at 5 p.m. with heat racing at 5:25 p.m. Feature action begins at 7:30 p.m. and concludes by 10:15p.m.
Contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS for information or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.