Rockingham: Laurie Cannister preview

ROCKINGHAM, NC. - Defending Pro Outlaw champion Laurie Cannister got herself a makeover during the off-season, but her new look doesn't involve her personal appearance. The executive assistant for Smith-Kline Beecham will make her 2001 debut ...

ROCKINGHAM, NC. - Defending Pro Outlaw champion Laurie Cannister got herself a makeover during the off-season, but her new look doesn't involve her personal appearance. The executive assistant for Smith-Kline Beecham will make her 2001 debut behind the wheel of a supercharged IHRA Funny Car. This is a step forward for the defending Pro Outlaw world champion who piloted a potent small-block powered dragster for the last two seasons.

The former IHRA Rookie of the Year is up to the challenges of a new beast.

"This is certainly a new breed of racing machinery than I have driven in the past," explained Cannister, who won four national events in her rookie season of 1999. "It takes some getting used to and it certainly handles much different than my dragster did. I'm up for the challenge and so is my crew. I think we'll be fine."

Returning for another stint as crewchief will be long-time tuner Jeff Fowler, who will share the duties once again with Laurie's husband Dale. Cannister feels that one of the things that has made her transition bearable is the cohesion with her crew. She is quick to point out that a driver is only good as their crew.

"They complete this team," adds Cannister. "Any decision that has to be made regarding this team is a democracy. We vote and make the decisions that we feel are the best with us. There were many options to pursue after Pro Outlaw folded up and we made the unified decision to head to the Funny Car division because we found it to be the best opportunity for us. We are now Funny Car by committee."

Cannister will make her debut at this weekend's IHRA Holley Spring Nationals in Rockingham, NC. She will be afforded two qualifying attempts on Friday, with two more scheduled for Saturday. The quickest 16 Pro Funny Cars will return on Sunday for final eliminations.

-Bobby Bennett

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Series Drag
Drivers Laurie Cannister