Up-and-coming drivers dream of Victory Lane photos, big sponsors and emphatic cheers, but the path to get there is a climb built only for the committed.
Cannon McIntosh knows that firsthand as one of the young stars who has climbed his way to the riches of success as a multi-time Midget series and Chili Bowl Nationals prelim Feature winner.
“It’s definitely come a long way,” McIntosh said of his career progress. “I feel like it’s all going in the right direction.”
McIntosh, 20, of Bixby, OK, has taken on an array of new elements in his daily and racing life over the past few years. Most recently, he made the move over the offseason to his new residence in Mooresville, NC, to take full advantage of some of the many racing resources in the area, and it’s been paying dividends on the track.
A third career Chili Bowl Nationals preliminary Feature win in January jumpstarted his year and set the stage for a second career Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota Feature win in the season opener in the Southern Illinois Center last month. A wreck took him out of action in the second night out in Du Quoin, but four weeks later came a second Xtreme Outlaw victory thus far at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55.
That result vaulted him to second in the driver points standings with two wins in the first three Series races.
“I think that win at [I-55] and just shaking off the second night at Du Quoin helped us to regroup and put us right where we needed to be,” McIntosh said.
In spring 2019, McIntosh signed with Toyota Racing to become part of the brand’s driver development program and celebrates five consecutive years of the partnership in 2023. He’s begun taking full advantage of the resources TRD has set up for their drivers, including daily workouts at the TRD training facility in Mooresville and personalized diet plans from the nutritionist staff.
The backing and sponsor connections from Toyota and his family at Dave Mac-Dalby Motorsports have been big catalysts for his development as a driver over the past several seasons. The collective dedication between driver, crew and sponsor has made for a winning combination – one few other 20-year-olds like himself get the opportunity to experience.
“The dedication from my family and continuing to put funding toward me; everyone knows this isn’t free and it’s an expensive sport,” McIntosh said. “I think having a big support system, and also having Toyota to help me with sponsorship and helping me become a better overall athlete has really helped me as well.”
Lately, it’s been mornings in the gym and afternoons/evenings in the shop during the week. Cannon’s father, Dave McIntosh, helped forge a brand-new Micro Sprint racing team with teammate Austin Barnhill and his father, Johnny Barnhill, over the winter (Dave Mac-Barnhill Motorsports) and have been hard at work constructing a worthy program to develop future talent. Cannon has been a daily force in the shop – performing maintenance on the cars, shop/trailer upkeep, ordering parts, and general race strategy and study.
“It’s definitely been nice on that side – making my craft better, not only in the seat but also working in the shop,” McIntosh said. “Just trying to build up a Micro team out here; I definitely think we’re going the right way with it.”
He’s also been a weekly entrant at Millbridge Speedway in nearby Salisbury, NC – which has its weekly racing streamed live on DIRTVision – piloting cars in both the Winged and Non-Wing Micro Sprint divisions for DMB. Five wins between the two classes so far has shown what the new team and their equipment is capable of – which the team hopes will catch some attention and become a breeding ground for some of the sport’s future stars.
In addition to keeping his skillset sharp behind the wheel, McIntosh has also been learning his racecars from the other side of the fence with a little help from his friends at Bundy Built Motorsports.
“I’m also now learning more on the crew chief side of it,” McIntosh said. “I’ve been making some decisions that I think are going to help us, and I’ve had Ethan Mitchell to help me a little bit too, when it comes to setup.”
From humble beginnings as a youngster in the grandstands at the Chili Bowl in the late 2000s, to cutting his teeth as a Micro Sprint racer around his native Oklahoma in the 2010s, to his first big Midget break with Keith Kunz Motorsports in 2020, McIntosh has been around the block and learned several important lessons he still lives and drives by today.
“I’d say one of the biggest things is not quitting,” he said. “There’s been times along the way where it’s gotten hard. All the way back to a few years ago, where I felt like I wasn’t where I needed to be and just didn’t feel like I was doing a good job.
“There’s times where you just feel like quitting. But now that I’ve gotten to this point… I think it’s just sticking it out, even in times when you don’t feel like doing it.”
Three races in, 32 to go in his quest for a first national Midget series title with the Xtreme Outlaws. He sits only 13 points out of the lead in the current standings but knows it’s going to take a lot more than just early season success to capture a championship of this caliber. He needs to stay committed.
“It’s going to be a matter of staying consistent all the way through the rest of the year,” McIntosh said. “And finishing all the laps. If you’re taking yourself out of races, it doesn’t take long before you’re buried, and there’s no coming back out of it.”
McIntosh and the Dave Mac-Dalby Motorsports team are back in action with the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota in Kansas next Friday-Saturday, May 5-6, at Humboldt Speedway and 81 Speedway.
Tickets will be available at the gates on race day. If you can’t be at the track, stream all the action live on DIRTVision.