Respected veteran engineer Michael Cannon has joined AJ Foyt Racing for the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, leading the team's race engineers Daniele Cucchiaroni and Roberto Garcia along with drivers Santino Ferrucci and Benjamin Pedersen.
"It was an opportunity to do something that interests me," Cannon said. "I know that Larry (Foyt) has been working hard to move the team up the grid. I saw this opportunity to both help him and Santino and obviously Benjamin Pedersen, who's coming on board. I want to see if I can make a difference here."
Cannon's career spans five decades dating back to the early 1980s.
"What was supposed to be a summer job when I was 20 years old turned into a career in motor racing," said Cannon, who was born in Montreal.
Cannon helped Scott Dixon earn his sixth INDYCAR SERIES championship in 2020 with Chip Ganassi Racing and has worked with Andretti Autosport, Dale Coyne Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing in recent seasons. Throughout his career, Cannon worked with an array of exceptional engineers whom he considers his mentors, including Lee Dykstra, Bruce Ashmore and Tony Cicale.
“You do pull bits out of every one of those interactions,” Cannon said. “I've been very fortunate to work with some of the best people in the industry."
Although the driving factor to join Foyt's team for Cannon was the chance to work in race engineering with Ferrucci, with whom he worked in 2019 when both were at Dale Coyne Racing, there is a loose connection to team owner A.J. Foyt. Cannon's father, John, a renowned driver who made his name in sports cars, teamed with Foyt when they drove for Houstonian oil magnate John Mecom in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1964. They placed second in the Grand Sport class behind the duo of Roger Penske and Jim Hall.
Still, Cannon needs to reacquaint himself with the big boss, Super Tex himself.
Asked if he had met Foyt, Cannon laughed and said, "Not since I was 5 years old! My mom was born on the exact same day as him, January 16, 1935. I grew up with A.J. in our house!"
Cannon’s arrival marked a significant step in the team’s development, including recent hires. In November, Team President Larry Foyt hired Craig Brooks as team manager. Brooks oversees both the Texas and Indiana operations but is based in Indianapolis. Brooks previously worked as the technical director for INDY NXT by Firestone (formerly Indy Lights) for the past 13 years and was a technical consultant for the IMSA series on a part-time basis since 2016.
Foyt also hired Chris "Beaker" Sheffer as the shop manager in Indianapolis. Sheffer brings a wealth of experience as he has worked in a variety of management and technical roles in the motorsports industry for the past two decades. Six more mechanics were hired as Foyt beefed up the operation for this year.
“We certainly have many new faces in the team this year, but I can say the feeling is very positive and everyone is pulling in the same direction,” Larry Foyt said. “We know it will take some time to get where we want to be, but we are looking forward to the challenge and proving that we are heading in the right direction."
Ferrucci and Pedersen will participate in the NTT INDYCAR Series open test Feb. 2-3 at The Thermal Club in Thermal, California. A private test is scheduled in mid-February at Sebring, Florida. The series starts its 17-race season March 3-5 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding in St. Petersburg, Florida.