The highly-controversial Cannonball Run race record has been smashed by three men who have driven from the west coast of America to the east coast in just 27 hours and 25 minutes.
Although the history of the race is somewhat flaky, the race was so named when, back in the 1970s, Brock Yates took the race challenge on; hence, the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash was created. It was so-named after legendary race driver, Erwin ‘Cannonball’ Baker, who completed the coast-to-coast drive in 53.5 hours back in 1933.
The race was run over five years and in the final run of the race, as it was known then in 1979, 46 cars took part. The winners time of 32 hours and 51 minutes was the official recorded time, as the race in this guise was never run again.
In 1981, the release of the film ‘The Cannonball Run’ (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082136/), raised interest once again and offshoots of the race like the ‘U.S. Express’ sprang up and ran for a further few years. In 1983, David Diem and Doug Turner set a new record of 32 hours and 7 minutes. This record stayed until 2006, when on his third attempt at breaking the record, Alex Roy and Dave Maher finally broke the record with a time of 31 hours and 4 minutes in a modified BMW M5.
From then, it took until 2013 for this record to once again be broken, this time by Ed Bolian, Dave Black and Dan Huang who completed the race in just 28 hours and 50 minutes in a Mercedes CL-55 AMG. The car had been radically modified to produce the power and speed he would need to break the record. As well as the existing gas tank of 22 gallons, two 22 gallon tanks were added, as well as copious amounts of technical equipment to ensure police were spotted well in advance and road traffic jams were identified, as well as chargers for smartphones.
Now, just a few weeks ago, the record has once again not just been broken, but well and truly smashed out of the park. Averaging 103mph, the new record breaking trio, comprising of Arne Toman, Doug Tabbutt, and Berkeley Chadwick, covered the 2,825 drive in just 27 hours and 25 minutes.
They chose a high-powered custom-built 2015 Mercedes- Benz E63 AMG Sedan and added to it various traffic monitoring systems including Waze (https://www.waze.com/en-GB/) and a thermal scope which was roof-mounted and operational by a remote control. This meant that any police warnings flagged by Waze could then be identified by their heat signature on the roadside. With the help of spotters along the route, they managed to keep on track and only stopped for fuel and toilet breaks for 22 minutes
Incredibly dangerous, the Cannonball Run involves breaking speed limits at terrifying levels hence why the planning was all about breaking the record by some margin to discourage others from trying and them having to defend their title.
What’s interesting is that the car of choice for both recent record-breaking drives have been Mercedes. Your local Mercedes dealer probably won’t be singing from the treetops about winning these runs, but I bet they’re quietly smug.
So, will the next ground-breaking run be in a Mercedes again? I guess only time will tell.