Of Canadian nationality, but born in London, John Cannon was one of McLaren’s Can-Am foot soldiers and while he was never a member of the works team, his achievements both as a privateer and driving for independent teams earn him a worthy place in this Top 50 ranking.
Cannon was a regular on the Can-Am scene from the early days, but it was his superbly opportunistic victory in the rain-soaked Laguna Seca event in 1968 that really carried him into the headlines. Driving an elderly M1B powered by an Oldsmobile V8 engine, Canon kept his cool when others were slip-sliding in all directions, finishing ahead of the works car of Denny Hulme at the chequered flag.
In 1969 and 70 he moved into single seaters, contesting the prestigious L&M Continental series [the US equivalent of Formula 5000], winning that championship in the latter season driving a McLaren M10B for St LouIs trucking magnate Carl Hogan’s Hogan-Starr operation.
Cannon used this success as a springboard to establish his racing reputation in Europe, raising funds to rent a semi-works March 712M in the hotly contested European F2 championship series in which the likes of Ronnie Peterson, Carlos Reutemann and Francois Cevert were leading lights. In this exalted company Cannon certainly performed very respectably indeed, well enough to be invited to drive as a member of the five-car BRM squad in the US GP at Watkins Glen. He finished 14th.
John Cannon sadly died as a result of injuries sustained when he crashed an experimental aircraft in New Mexico during 1999.