It was in 1971 that Brock Yates, a driver and automotive journalist, imagined a crazy race across the United States. Objective: To cross the entire country from New York City to Reddonto Beach, California. You have to go 4,519 kilometers on the open road regardless of any speed limit.
Because this “Cannonball Run” (abbreviated version of its full name, “Cannonball Packer Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash”) opposes road law, especially at speed limits, Brock Yates considers inappropriate.
Peak at 280 km / h
The first edition took place in 1971. The starting point was set up in the “Red Ball Garage”, a public parking lot in New York. Participants, invited by the organizer, meet at the Portofino Hotel on the beach in Redonto, California.
The first winning team is able to cross the country in 40 hours and 51 minutes in a simple van.
A time erupts from the second edition of 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Dan Gurney, with organizer Brock Yates at Ferrari 365 Daytona GDP / 4 Sunoko: They arrived at the Portobino Hotel at 35:54.
In 1975, another Ferrari crew broke their record again by one minute.
In all, five editions of the “Cannonball Run” were organized between 1971 and 1979. The average speed exceeded 130 km / h, while the peaks were over 280 km / h.
Indestructible by many films
It will not take long for the American race to impress as this race is as dangerous as the madman. In its background, Hollywood captures the subject.
In early 1971, “Maccabees Dukes Paths” and “Point Limit Zero” (“disappearing point” in the original version) road criminals would cross the United States at full speed.
Two films later popularized the race: “Kampal Rally” in 1976, and “Cannonball Run” in 1981. Characters such as Burt Reynolds, Farra Bassett, Dean Martin, Sami Denise Jr. or Roger Moore will be engraved. Memories of a generation of activists.
The race continues
Officially, “Cannonball Run” is dead and buried.
But the idea was taken up by other underground races such as the “US Express”, and later pilots attempted to set a new individual record for speeding across the United States by car from New York to California.
The times of these new competitors are recorded in a kind of official “classification” that is updated with each attempt. In a country where fast tickets are sometimes punished very harshly, it is the most dangerous game ever.
Over-produced groups …
These modern competitors want wisdom. In order not to attract the attention of the police, they make cars like the Ford Crown Victoria into a police vehicle or a normal gray Mercedes.
Underneath this minimalist look, these cars get performance-enhancing modifications, extra fuel tanks, radios and radar detectors.
Along the way, passing cars in search of potential police officers is made by “scouts”. Some groups are even made up of three people: one of them sits in the back seat and watches the road using infrared glasses.
Attempts were made to film the benefit of the Limits on Traffic Offenses Act, but were not made public until a year later.
… was attacked by a stranger in a rental Mustang
In recent years, interest in this post has been renewed. This record has been broken indiscriminately for four years, thanks to a team of less than 28 trained and heavily armed men for about thirty hours.
However, last year, an unidentified driver broke the record when the rental Ford Mustang GT was overtaken.
After renting a car from a New York company, Fred Ashmore, 44, of Hong Kong, Maine, had his headlamps, extra large tank and a simple CB before heading to the “Red Ball Garage”.
Twenty-five hours and fifty-five minutes later, the Mustang GT pulls up in front of the Portobino Hotel. The previous record, 28 hours 50 minutes, was distorted. A record achieved by an individual on a plane, in a simple rental car, with the exception of the police.
Fifty years ago, many citizens were protesting against these dangerous open road races.
Currently, no one participating in “Cannonball” has been killed. A miracle.