Then, a couple of hours later, I’m working in the shop
and the phone rings and it’s Jim. I’m talking
to him and he asks which glasses I liked, and I told him,
‘Well some of them I’m not so sure I’d want
to wear, but some of them I would. To be honest with you,
you sent a bunch of glasses. Which ones would we have to wear?’
I was worried about which ones he’d want us to wear
just to put a sticker on the car. But he said we could wear
the ones we liked, so I said, ‘That’s cool, we’ll
Then he says, ‘So what’s the deal about you wanting
to go fuel racing?’ and I told him it was something
I really wanted. He says, ‘What do you want to do, Funny
Car or Top Fuel?’ and I said, ‘First choice, Funny
Car, second choice dragster, but it really don’t matter.’
I said I’d cut my left nut off and throw it in a jar
and pickle it--that’s exactly what I said--just to get
to drive one of those things, and he said, ‘Well, consider
it done. The only person who can monkey this deal up is you.’
that was when you first realized who you were dealing with?
Cannon: Yep, that moment,
and I about choked. That was on a Tuesday and he said I needed
to be there (California) in the morning and this was about
2 o’clock. He told me, ‘Just get your airplane
ticket, my word is good, just call when you get here and my
wife and I will pick you up and we’ll talk about it.
And I’ll tell you one more time, the only one who can
queer this deal is you. You can go fuel racing next year.’
That’s when I said it’s going to cost a lot of
money and he said, ‘Don’t talk about the money,
just get here and we’ll talk about what we want to do.’
So I flew out the next morning.
you go with anyone?
|Cannon’s first car, an ex-Tim
Wilkerson piece, played up the “Killer ‘Mater”
theme he had going in the Pro Mod ranks.
Cannon: No, I went by myself
and he picked me up and we didn’t really talk about
racing for a while. His wife was there most of the time and
it was real casual, they made me feel right at home and comfortable.
Then she left and he started asking about if I wanted to own
my own team and how I wanted to do things, and he had some
of his own ideas about how to do it, and we basically agreed
on everything and he said it’s a done deal. That’s
when I said, ‘Well, I’ve got a problem with it
being a done deal. I can’t really stop my (Pro Mod)
career unless you make this where I know it’s for real.’
And he said, ‘Well, what’s that going to take?’
I had talked to two or three people that I knew who were
already in the fuel classes and they said, ‘Well, I
don’t really know this guy (Jannard), and I’ve
seen deals like this fall through the cracks before, and it’s
probably not going to happen. It’s too good to be true.
It’s got fairy tale written all over it. But if he’s
for real, he needs to wire you a lot of money, a whole bunch
of money, non-refundable if he backs out.’ And I made
that pretty stiff on him, and it was there, the money was
you sign a contract, too?
Cannon: Yeah, we drew up
a contract, but not right away. I suggested we draw up a one-
or two-page contract, something simple because I’ve
been in business all my life and I knew if this thing went
sour I wasn’t going to fight it. So he drew up a contract
after he sent the money--he sent the money before anything--and
a week or two after I got the contract I put it in my briefcase
while I was so busy trying to get the fuel tune-up together
to go to Houston for testing. I had just got my license at
Gainesville. I had bought Tim Wilkerson’s car, truck,
brand-new trailer, and all his parts and I hired Wayne Dupuy
as my crew chief and he was putting the team together.
Anyway, we were testing at Houston and Jim shows up and he
says to me, ‘Hey, we’ve got to talk about that
contract,’ and right away I’m thinking, ‘Oh
shit, here we go, there’s going to be problems,’
and he just goes, ‘You’ve never mailed it back
yet. My lawyer’s all over me. I think we’re going
to be okay, but some things have just got to be done by the
book. I need that signed contract. You’ve got a lot
of my money.’ So I apologized and went to the truck
and got the contract and everything was cool.
really is like a drag racing fairy tale. When you asked Jim
to wire the initial payment was it a six-figure amount?
Cannon: Oh yeah, it was
in the middle six figures. It was a lot, a half-million bucks.
It was a bunch. And he sent it quick, within a day or so.
My grandfather always told me, ‘Money talks and bullshit
walks,’ and it’s really true. After talking to
him in person that first day I knew that he wouldn’t
have went to the trouble and had everything thought out just
to be jerking somebody’s chain. He was concerned about
getting started in time for the new season, he was worried
about that just as much as me, so after that I really wasn’t
worried about the money. He was always good on his word when
it came to that.