A team of drivers reportedly set a new coast-to-coast “Cannonball Run” record by taking advantage of the empty highways brought about by the coronavirus outbreak.
Road & Track reported the team of three or four drivers in an Audi A8 started at the Red Ball Garage in New York City at 11:15 p.m. on April 4, and finished less than 27 hours later at the Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach, California.
The new record of 26 hours and 38 minutes beat the previous mark of 27 hours and 25 minutes set last November by Arne Toman and Doug Tabbutt, under normal traffic conditions.
Ed Bolian, who set a record in 2013, said in a YouTube video that he monitored the team’s progress over the April 4-6 run time and has seen the timing data confirming the new fastest time ever clocked.
— Road & Track (@RoadandTrack) April 10, 2020
“But is it a record?” Bolian asked. “Well on one hand, a record is objective, quantitative. It is the fastest time, and so by that regard, it is a record.”
He then went on to argue that from a qualitative standpoint, the new time has to be placed in a different category.
“The treasure of Cannonball to me wasn’t in holding the record, it was in chasing a record,” Bolian said.
“The chance to see if I could measure up against these heroes that I had from the 1970s,” he added. “I loved the chase. I loved solving the multi-variable equation. I loved joining this fraternity of lunatics that care about it.”
Bolian further contended that if this mark is now out there as the official Cannonball record, and people see it as unbeatable under normal conditions, they will not try.
Road & Track reported, “Brock Yates, a legendary editor at Car and Driver magazine, cooked up the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash in 1971 and organized four of the illegal cross-country races throughout the 1970s.”
The race became the subject of the 1981 hit comedy “Cannonball Run,” featuring an all-star cast that included Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Adrienne Barbeau, Dom DeLuise and Jackie Chan, among others.
The team who set the new Cannonball record has not publicly come forward.
Alex Roy — who set the fastest mark ever recorded in 2006, which Bolian later beat — was not approving of this latest run.
“Patriotism = staying off our roads until this is over,” he tweeted.
Patriotism = staying off our roads until this is over.
— Alex Roy (@AlexRoy144) April 9, 2020
“If you hit a truck moving medical supplies and people die because of it, that’s on you,” Roy told Road & Track. “People are counting on those trucks moving around right now. It’s not funny.”
Bolian was a little more forgiving.
“Do I think this is the best use of time while the country is staying in during a pandemic?” Bolian told the outlet. “Probably not, but for me to say it’s awful is like a cocaine dealer saying a heroin dealer is awful.”
The empty Santa Monica pier, and a quiet Highway 1… as we roll into another weekend in California with all beaches and lots in LA County closed.
— Afonso Salcedo (@fonziewonzie) April 4, 2020
Ben “Charlie Safari” Wilson, organizer of the C2C Express race (modeled after Cannonball), said this latest run will always have an asterisk next to it.
“What Brock Yates wanted to prove back in the ’70s was that you could drive quickly across the country in normal traffic without disrupting anyone or being unsafe, and that isn’t what this was,” Wilson said.
“Even if you list it as a record run, it’ll always be the run during the time of quarantine. There will always be an asterisk next to it.”
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