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June - Cannonball Run

The Cannonball Run, A.K.A. “The Secret Race Across America,” was conceived by automotive journalist Brock Yates and Car and Driver editor Steve Smith. It was intended as a protest against the strict traffic laws and speed limits imposed during the 1970s. Yates wanted to prove that you could “drive quickly across the country in normal traffic without disrupting anyone or being unsafe.”

The race was named after Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker, who in the early 20th century became famous for his record-setting drives. In 1933, Baker set out from New York City in a Graham-Page Model 57 and arrived in Los Angeles 53 hours and 5 minutes later - a record that would stand for over 30 years. The media referred to this record as the Cannon Ball Run. It was this legendary run that Yates and Smith decided to name their protest after.

The first Cannonball Run took place in May 1971. The race had no official route and participants could choose their own path across the country. The objective was simple: get from coast to coast as quickly as possible. Following the success of the first race, several more Cannonball Runs were organized in the early 1970s. The second race took place in November 1972, with a winning time of 37 hours and 16 minutes. The last official Cannonball Run was held in 1979. This time, the winner was a Jaguar XJS driven by Dave Heinz and Dave Yarborough, completing the race in 32 hours and 51 minutes. The run traditionally began at the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan, New York, and ended about 2,800 miles later at the Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach, Calif.

Currently, the Cannonball Run record stands at 25 hours and 39 minutes, set in 2020 by Arne Toman and Doug Tabbutt. This feat was achieved with an average speed of 113 miles per hour, far exceeding any legal speed limits across the United States. Despite its illegal nature, the Cannonball Run is far from being a chaotic or reckless endeavor. The drivers who take on this challenge are known for their meticulous planning, acute attention to detail, and diligence. These racers balance a blend of daring and discipline, making the Cannonball Run a testament to both skill and audacity in the realm of automotive adventure.


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