Scotty Cannon -- Boom Boom or 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.