Cannonball Run: the craziest race in the World

New York to Los Angeles in the shortest possible time with the goal of covering the distance of the American coast-to-coast on open roads without getting caught: the first edition of the Cannonball Run took place in 1971 and was the brainchild of Brock Yates, a Car and Driver journalist who decided to protest the increase in fuel prices and the subsequent imposition of the 55 mph limit to reduce gas consumption.
Thus, this is not a game among rich sports car owners, but a true manifesto for freedom and a response to the oil crisis plaguing the United States at that time.The first edition of the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash -named after Cannonball Baker, a record-holder who made a nonstop coast-to-coast run in the 1930s- has no participants other than Yates himself.In a Dodge Custom Sportsman van renamed Moon Trash II, Brock set off at midnight on May 3, 1971, from the Red Ball Garage in New York and arrived at the Portofino Inn in Los Angeles. Immediately after the feat he publishes an account of the venture in Car and Driver and manages to put together-for the second time-a group of participants.
In 1972 the rules were finally set: starting from the same point in New York and finishing at the Portofino Inn in Los Angeles. No limits on the route, no restrictions on vehicles or safety rules, no requirement for stops or crews.Yates himself teams up with 24h Le Mans '67 winner Dan Gurney in a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona in which they achieve a record 35 hours and 54 minutes to cover 4608 km from coast to coast at an average of about 80 mph.The crazy race has a huge media echo. Echo that also reaches the ears of the police, who in the following editions intensify controls on the roads forcing participants to find alternative routes or stratagems to avoid checkpoints. In one of the last editions, Brock Yates himself transformed a Dodge van into an ambulance, equipping the vehicle even with an imaginary sick person on a stretcher: his wife Pamela.The last edition was in '79. In fact, in this edition one of the participants at a checkpoint shows a fake police badge and is arrested. This is the final straw after years of controversy surrounding this challenge without rules.
This challenge, however, has all the makings of entering legend and inspiring movies (and more). A black Countach racing at first light on a road surrounded by desert opens the 1981 film directed by Hal Needham. The Lamborghini locks up the brakes at the side of the road, at the "Speed Limit 55" sign the passenger door opens and a girl with a spray can draws a red X on the speed limit; the car then restarts in a scenic burnout and begins a chase with a Police Pontiac Trans Am.
The incipit says it all about the action-comedy whose cast includes actors such as Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. and is evidently inspired by the "craziest race in the world": a group of drivers take part in an underground race that crosses the United States of America from coast to coast. Each crew has its own original strategy for evading capture by law enforcement and getting to the finish line first: J.J. McClure and Victor Prinzim race an ambulance complete with a fake patient and a drunken docto; Seymour Goldfarb Jr. (who often identifies himself as Roger Moore, even when registering for the race) relies instead on 007-worthy accessories for his Aston Martin DB5; Jamie Blake and Morris Fenderbaum disguise themselves as priests and drive a Ferrari 308 GTS; Jill Rivers and Marcie Thatcher driving a Lamborghini Countach LP400 S rely on their breathtaking physiques to ingratiate themselves with the cops; professional racing driver Jackie Chan and his engineer use a custom-built prototype equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation that often malfunctions; and a strange sheik participates with his Rolls-Royce, always getting into trouble for speaking too much. Compton and Finch, two friends who are former schoolmates, disguise themselves as newlyweds on their honeymoon, but due to the excessive weight of the passenger, their motorcycle runs on the back wheel the whole ride.
Although the original race officially ends in the early 1980s, car enthusiasts unofficially continue it. Several teams attempt to break the record for the fastest trip across the United States, often taking advantage of cutting-edge technology and sophisticated tactics. And just as the world is literally standing still in the grip of a pandemic, the record is broken again and again, taking advantage of the reduced number of motorists on the roads and the absence of law enforcement.In April 2020, an anonymous crew sets off from the Red Ball Garage in East Manhattan and arrives at the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, California, for a total of 2,825.3 miles (4,546.9 km), in 26 hours and 38 minutes.The team averages 106 miles per hour (171 km/h) in a 2019 Audi A8L equipped with extra tanks in the rear trunk.
In May 2020, Arne Toman, Doug Tabbutt and Dunadel Daryoush set a new record of 25 hours and 39 minutes in a 2016 Audi S6 disguised as a police Ford Taurus. Modifications for evading police inspections include: brake light switches, radar detectors, laser speakers, CB radios and a roof-mounted thermal camera; while other modifications are those that ensure the success of the feat: a 67-gallon U.S. auxiliary tank (250 L) mounted in the trunk, modified turbochargers, an upgraded heat exchanger, and a custom ECU tune that allows the engine mapping to be changed on demand to match 9- or 93 octane fuel, enabling the car to generate an estimated 600 horsepower.The run reaches an overall average speed of 110 mph (177 km/h), with average speeds exceeding 125 mph (201 km/h) in some states and at no time exceeding 175 mph (282 km/h).In early June 2020, as reported by Road & Track, Fred Ashmore completes a solo race in 25 hours and 55 minutes. However, the claim is questioned by the same magazine, which after further investigation reveals that the evidence supporting the claim is false.Therefore, the record in effect remains that of 25 hours and 39 minutes, but for the time being all we can do is wait for the next crazy feat.
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