John Cannon made his name racing in the Can-Am Challenge and Formula 5000 before starting one Grand Prix for BRM. He began racing an Elva Courier sports car in California during 1960 and he later entered a Genie-Oldsmobile in partnership with actor Dan Blocker – best known for his role in the long-running television western Bonanza.
Can-Am, Indycars and F5000 in North America
Increasingly prominent in North American sports cars as the decade unfolded, Cannon acquired a McLaren M1B-Chevrolet which he raced in the new Can-Am series – finishing fourth at St Jovite in the very first such race held in 1966. Despite his car now being outdated, Cannon scored a surprise victory at a wet Laguna Seca in 1968, coming from 15th on the grid to lap the field thanks to the judicious choice of intermediate Firestone tyres.
An Indycar debut that year included finishing second at St Jovite with a Bryant Vollstedt-Ford. Alongside such occasional outings and his Can-Am career, Cannon drove an Eagle in the SCCA’s Formula A series from 1969, later known as F5000. Fourth overall in 1969, Cannon clinched the following year’s title in Carl Hogan’s McLaren M10B-Chevrolet.
Brief European foray and grand Prix debut
Cannon moved to Europe in 1971 and drove a private March 712M-Ford in the FIA Formula 2 Championship. Fourth at Járama was his best result and he made his GP debut at the end of the year – his works BRM P153 finishing 14th at Watkins Glen.
But his future was not in the top echelons of the sport. Cannon continued racing in F5000 (including a couple of British outings during 1972), Can-Am and Indycars into the middle of the decade before deciding to retire. He was killed in 1999 when the light aircraft he had built crashed into a New Mexico cornfield.