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The Hill Files

Scotty Cannon -- Boom Boom or Blab Blab?

by Jim Hill - 2/04/1999

Sounds like the online community has latched onto a juicy, controversial subject in the person of IHRA Pro/Mod defector Scotty Cannon!

OK folks, here's my worthless two-cents worth...

It has already been well documented that Mr. Cannon is not afraid of speaking his mind. Yes, much of this is hype, but then, haven't we all had enough of the fresh-faced, white-toothed, corporately schooled hero driver? I mean, come on, like him or hate him, Force is a breath of fresh air with his adrenaline-fed, out of the car, top-end interview babble. Cannon could be even more colorful and unpredictable, and that ain't all bad, people. (Could you imagine a Force v. Cannon final and both of these motor-mouths getting together center-stage for an open-mike interview before the run? Sounds like a drag racing "Texas Death Match". It's only rock and roll but I like it!)

"Long toothed" fossils (I guess that includes me, too) should remember when brash young-uns like McEwen and Snake drummed up exposure, fans, and surprise, corporate sponsorship dollars with their "zoo" antics. Funny Car racing is itself a direct descendant of the brash supercharged gasser "wars" that defined the term "colorful" as it applied to drag racing from that era. Teams and drivers created their own hype to spur track owners to host match races and sign sponsors. The weeklies jumped on the wagon with both feet (sometimes of clay!), running stories and interviews in which drivers and other figures made rash, boastful and often ridiculous statements. Hey, if you want to examine this seriously, those 60's TF "zoo bashes" and FC circus acts were the prototypes for the hype that today's WCW/WWF "pro rasslers" have taken to the bank.

Cannon's explosive arrival on the scene represents "color" long absent from today's absurd philosophy that "The performance of the race cars will suffice to entertain the fans". So what if Cannon has a Mohawk haircut, Deep-South drawl and down-home, in-your-face manner? That's what SELLS tickets, cable TV packages, hot rod parts, consumer products and services.

OK, so Cannon is as raw a rookie to nitro racing as there is. He'll make his "bones" quickly enough, and, if he doesn't run out of money, his fire suit will rapidly gather the oil stains and scorches of the engine mishaps that define today's fuel racing. One thing is for certain, the established teams better get ready to have their tails twisted, either verbally or in wins.

Finally, Cannon is indeed a "real" racer. I've observed his IHRA "act" and found that there has always been a very solid foundation as a serious, innovative and dedicated racer beneath the loud, brash veneer that grabs headlines. IHRA's Pro/Mod is one hell of a competitive pressure cooker. Typically, 50+ cars show up to qualify for a 16 car field, and all of them run well. Just making the show is a big deal. Winning it is even bigger, and Cannon has won a ton of events plus wore-out several cars match racing on tracks that range from opulent drag-palaces to pitiful cow paths.

Will he struggle in his first year just qualify? Probably. After all, switching from Pro/Mod to nitro FC is one hell of a big jump. Will he get it "figured out"? I'm betting he will.

He's also very comfortable and articulate in front of a camera and mike. He has the "Darrell Waltrip ability" of turning on the Southern drawl, "Golly Shucks" stuff when needed and switching back to "real world" dialog when circumstances necessitate it.

One more thing. For all his brashness, Cannon is excellent with fans, honors his sponsorship agreements, and runs an all-around clean act. Try and find that in today's NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball.

Come on guys. You're showing your age and increasing conservatism by bad-mouthing Scotty Cannon. The "Been there, done that" resume and credentials of this 1320 group is without parallel. You know what you accomplished, and secretly wished you had accomplished during your own careers. Here's a guy with the stones to jump in, feet-first, and challenge what has become an all too buttoned down sleep-aid that is broke and needs fixin'. So, sit back, watch the spectacle unfold, laugh at the "Ali-Antics", understand that this is a good, hard-core racer with flash, and most important of all, enjoy the show.

Like it or not, today's bland dish of drag racing just got a heapin' tablespoonful of Carolina Tabasco.

Jim Hill
Crane Cams


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