Through aggressive racing, a winning history, and a reputation
for speaking his mind, Scotty Cannon has become a genuine
legend in the sport of drag racing.
The six-time IHRA Pro Mod champion made quite a splash when
he made the switch to nitro Funny Car racing in 1999 and
won the NHRA’s Rookie of the Year title. Winless after
five seasons in the fuel coupes, however, Cannon returned
to Pro Mod action last year, where he met with mixed results.
He looked like the Cannon of old early on, but struggled
somewhat in coping with mid-season rule changes before returning
to contending form as 2004 waned. The biggest change, though,
was made in the cockpit, where Cannon’s 25-year-old
son Scott took over the driving duties.
In December, DRO sat down with Cannons Sr. and Jr. at their
lakefront vacation home in South Carolina and discussed,
among other things, sponsorship woes, Scott’s future,
Wes Cerny, Jim Jannard, John Force, and a surprising career
aspiration for the Mohawked one.
What is the general plan for Cannonball Racing in 2005?
Cannon: Well, we’re open to any suggestion from any
potential sponsor or investor. The way I look at it is, whoever
is paying the bills is the boss.
The first thing is that Scott is going to be doing the Pro
Mod deal as the driver and he’ll be using a new Jeffers
racecar. Larry Jeffers is furnishing the car and we’re
going to see if we can help sell him some cars. We’ll
be at the NHRA race in Gainesville, no doubt, and depending
on sponsorship we’ll see how things go and how many
races we’ll make.
What body will be on the car?
Cannon Jr.: It’s a ‘53 Corvette.
Cannon: We intend for it to be red, but if a sponsor wants
it purple or any other color it makes no difference to us.
My intention is to run both circuits. Now I know that sounds
hard to do, but I could’ve done it this year (2004).
Like I say, it’s going to be sponsor related. The bottom
line is that we need to come up with some funding to run
for a championship, which I think we proved we could toward
the end of the year. We were out of this thing (Pro Mod)
for five years and we came out hauling butt, but they changed
the rules on us in the middle of the year -- and they changed
the rules on everybody, so I’m not complaining -- but
it took us longer to adapt after being away from it so long.
But in those last three races (Dragstock, Las Vegas, Phoenix),
with Scott driving the car, the worst we finished was runner-up
and the car was fully IHRA-legal and the blower was running
at 20 (percent) over.
So, it’s going to be a shame if we have to sit back
and not have anyone fund this car. I’m not bragging,
but it took us only a year to get back up to speed. It’s
not a matter of whether we’re going to do it or we
hope to do it; it’s already happened. It’s just
a little bit heart-breaking to know we’ve got a combination
that can run up front and here we are probably without a
sponsor because maybe I didn’t do so good.