Interview with seven time national & three time USA champion kart racer, Anthony Gangi Jr.
Christian: Anthony, you are a seven-time national champion and a three time US champion and over one hundred wins in your racing career. You probably have a lot of people ask you for advice or a lot of parents asking about how to get started in karting or advice on how to become a fast champion like you? So, if you could just talk about what matters most to a young racer like me and their Mom or Dad when starting out in karting?
Anthony: Well first, when I started out in karting, I was focused, first and foremost and it was also about loving it. If you don’t love your sport, you really need to find another one. If you love your sport, you’ll think about it more and you’ll appreciate it more. I tell everyone, “the most important thing is to have fun”. When you love it as much as I do, you appreciate it all the more. It takes everything to a whole ‘nother level. When I started racing, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I started devoting time to it everyday and I sacrificed. When you sacrifice your time to something you love, you might not see the result you want right away, but you will see the sacrifice in the end. I think back to when I started out, and if there’s anything I could go back and say to the little guys like yourself, I would say “definitely listen to your parents” when they talk. They’ve made mistakes before and they know what they’re talking about, even if they don’t sit behind the wheel of a go kart. They have experience from life, and most times, they are going to be right. Also, everyone on your team wants to win as much as you. So when they’re out on the track and they come into the pits, and they talk to you about stuff, no one wants to hurt you, everyone wants to see you succeed, just as bad as you want to succeed. That’s the benefit of having people on your team.
Christian: Thanks! Would you have done anything differently if you could start over again? Or are you glad that there were certain things you did in the beginning? (Like for me, I always try to have FUN, no matter how important the race is and everything I have to remember)
Anthony: You know Christian, that’s a really good question. I really don’t have any regrets. The things that you do, even the mistakes that you make, help you form as a better person overall.
Christian: What should be your goal every time a young racer goes out onto the track (besides having fun)?
Anthony: Every time I go out on the track, I try to stay focused and basically focus on everything all the tasks I’m going out there to try to achieve; whether it’s the kart, what it’s doing, or how I am driving that day. I know that seems really simple, but the goal is to continually prove myself. Self improvement – improving myself is HUGE! Every time you go out there determined to improve, you get better, things will automatically come. If you focus on improving, you don’t have to try to win, it will just automatically come and you’ll be great someday. So improvement is the thing I focus on the most. Like, at the end of the weekend, if I won, it doesn’t matter to me. Ony if I know I’ve improved, I feel a sense of accomplishment, but if I win that weekend, but know I didn’t improve, then really I’ve lost the race (in my mind). When I go to the track I really try to focus, and my goal is when I’ve left the track, I feel I’ve learned something different, I’ve learned something new. It could be as simple as learning that the battery voltage on my Mychron has to be above 8.5 volts, to give me accurate data. You have to go out there with the right mindset. Not to be the most driven, but be completely calm and don’t let your emotions drive who you are. Get out there and don’t show anyone else, especially other drivers, your emotions, never allow them to get in your head. If they can get into your head, they can cause you to lose your race. Remain focused with the right mindset. Focus on learning and being better. That’s my advice for all the little guys who want to become great. I am not great yet, but I am trying to accomplish that, but I am determined to consistently get better. I have good people around me and so do you and you have to believe that you have the right people around you. Everyone around you is there for the team and to make you better.
Christian: That’s great advice. I remember when I met you last June, when both you and your Mom (Jodi) gave me advice at the track. It really helped me a lot.
Anthony: Yeah, I do remember that day. I think my Mom and I told you “don’t overthink it, be safe, but go for it”. I remember earlier that day I watched you on a turn and you hesitated to take an easy pass. You Christian, and everyone else, have to believe you’re a race car driver out there. You have to say to yourself, I’m a racer and that’s my job! I mean, this is what you do – you’re made to race, so you have to go with your instinct. If you overthink the process, you’re just going to mess up. Follow the advice you got from the last time you were on the track. Yes, go for it. Instinct is key, but you also have to be smart every time you put your helmet on. So that’s what happens when you’re on the track. Next time I see you, we can talk more about preparation at home, before a race. But preparing at home and thinking about my last race and what I can do to improve is important. I think about the layout of the track and what I did last time I raced there and what I need to do to improve. That is another really important part of racing and good advice for any racer.
Christian: Thanks a million Anthony. Good advice. I appreciate you doing this interview!
Anthony: You’re welcome Christian. Good luck to you. Thanks for making me a part of KidzSpeed.
(Stay tuned for Anthony’s upcoming video interview on “Tips from Pit Lane” on KidzSpeed)