Monday Morning – How Fast Are We Going?
Back in the 1970's I subscribed to a weekly tabloid-size newspaper that came via mail called Auto Week. It's focus was on anything related to speed-by-auto along with the fascination of exotic cars and technological innovation in the automotive industry. It was a marvelous publication that also kept close coverage of all the auto racing leagues.
Every couple of years they would report on a clandestine auto race that was dubbed the "Cannonball Run," a very illegal street race that began at the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan and ended at the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, California. The participants would slip out of the garage at staggared times over several hours and could choose almost any route they wanted and there were no rules. The only rule was, best elapsed time was the winner.
Being in the 70's, the Interstate highways were the primary course and the souped up cars were also loaded up with radar detectors, police scanners and CB radios. There was always one passenger whose task was to monitor the scanners and prepare detours accordingly. One year an innovative racer used a souped-up ambulance that had working red lights that they would turn on whenever approaching turnpike toll booths to save precious time by skipping the backups from the collectors' stations.
The shadowy race series was created by legendary racing entrepreneur Brock Yates and had to be halted after a few runs because the publicity it generated was starting corrupt the secrecy needed to conduct the challenge. It was named after Edwin "Cannonball" Baker who was the first to make a coast-to-coast run at speed and he did it back in 1933, completing the distance in 53 hours, 30 minutes.
When Yates retired the Cannonball Run series, the "course record" stood at 32 hours, 51 minutes run in a Jaguar. That record has been bested a couple times more by individual runs that were properly witnessed and verified with the most recent record set in 2006 at 31 hours, 4 minutes in a BMW.
Enter now a Lamborghini dealer from Atlanta, Georgia, who decided to cash in his lifelong dream to hold the record for the "Cannonball." Ed Bolian spent seveal years planning and building up a collection of devices to assist the driving. He was able to take advantage of some great, new gadgets that the Hi-tech age has developed like GPS and laser jammers.
He decided on a 2004 Mercedes CL Class sedan with a V-8 engine to use as his platform. He also enlisted two other men to ride along and share the driving, navigating, and any repairs that might need to be tended to. He also added a couple of extra fuel tanks that made it possible to sail 800 miles between fillups.
To make a long story short, they set out from the Red Ball on October 19 and shattered the record by more than two hours, arriving at the Portofino just 28 hours, 50 minutes. That's an astounding elapsed-time speed average of 98 mph including stops. The maximum speed reached during the course was 158 mph.
Bolian has posted this video that encapsulates the run in 4 minutes:
I'm sure you'll want to read more about this achievement, so click on THIS ARTICLE in Jalopnik that goes into detail and includes a good history of the Cannonball Run.
Now let's slow down to earthly speeds and get our own speedy apparatus checked out for today. I'll race over to the Bunn-O-Matic and get enough coffee going to get us to the finish line. See you back in the pits.
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