By on December 31, 2015

Cannonball 1979 Start Briefing

A group of documentarians calling themselves RaceReporters/MotorReporters are attempting to piece together what happened during the Cannonball Runs between 1971 and 1979.

Started by Brock Yates, who temporarily found himself at TTAC for a few short weeks, and Steve Smith of Car & Driver, the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash was born in secrecy and kept away from the general public until the Hollywood film of the same name hit the silver screen.

After a “large stash of photography” taken by a Cannonball Run attendee was uncovered in Germany, the filmmakers are putting out a call to others who may have been present to witness what is now one of the most well-known underground “races” in history.

The press release states the Yates family is involved in the venture. However, Brock himself suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and isn’t mentioned as being involved.

The filmmakers are specifically looking for people who were at the following locations:

– Cannonball Start (Red Ball Garage, Manhattan, NY or Lock, Stock & Barrel, Darien, CT),
– Cannonball Finish (Portofino Inn, Redondo Beach, CA),
– Parade lap (US Grand Prix West, West Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA)
– or anywhere in between and has pictures, audio, film footage, home video tape, or just remembers the events?

The Cannonball Run was succeeded by One Lap of America, also a creation of Yates.

[Source: MotorReporters via AutoBlog]

Correction: I initially wrote Steve Baker was one of the co-creators of the Cannonball Run. His name is Steve Smith, not Steve Baker.

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20 Comments on “Were You on the Original Cannonball Run?...”


  • avatar
    mrentropy

    Didn’t Yates write articles about the Runs in Car & Driver? Also, as I understand it, the movie Gumball Rally (1976) is also based on the Trophy Run and is probably slightly more accurate than Cannonball Run.

    Either way, I don’t think it was much of a secret or kept away from the general populace.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Films? Aren’t those guys all just holding up old microcasette sound reorders? Perceptual generation gap?

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Gosh-durned yoots with their i-technologies don’t recognize nothing from the past!!!

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        My wife and I are the only ones in both our extended families who don’t have smart phones, including the gramps & grannies.

        Yeah, we’re a little proud.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          You should be. Most days I wish I didn’t have one. My work pays for my bill now because I told them I wasn’t going to put my work e-mail on my phone unless they did so.

          • 0 avatar
            anomaly149

            Make ’em give you a separate phone for work. A phone that’s touched work can be easily seized in an investigation and its contents trotted out, relevant or not. A strictly personal phone is a bit harder to get.

            Remember, it’s not about the facts in a court case, it’s about creating an air of conspiracy on the part of the folks being sued. They have every reason to misuse anything on your now work phone.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Thank you. I never thought about that. Something to do on Monday!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Work: Wouldn’t you like to bring your laptop in and get the VPN server installed so you can have access anywhere?

            Me: Nope.

    • 0 avatar
      Slow_Joe_Crow

      Look closely, between the guy in the white shirt and the guy in the green shirt is a 16mm or 8mm film camera with an attached mike. While I doubt there is much in the way of surviving video recording from the Cannonball there is almost certainly some movie film out there.

  • avatar

    I’d love to see this if they ever put it together. I loved Wired Mag’s account of someone’s (someone help me here, Jack, Iknow you know who Imean) 30-something hours mad dash across America in a… Idon’t even remember what car it was… But it was a gripping tale of speed and escaping cops ,in one case barely and almost miraculously. My own dream woiuld be to slide into a Boxster or Cayman before dawn, at my home outside Boston, and eat dinner in the Rockies.

  • avatar

    Back in day of the first Cannonball photos, filming, selfies, were not a big deal. The deal was to actually do it, primarily at night, and each team picked a different route that would hopefully permit them to not get too many speeding tickets in the process.

    http://allamericanracers.com/first-cannonball-run/

    http://www.cottonowens.com/archives/Cannonball_Run.php

    Once it became too well known, the mystique of the Cannonball had run its course.

  • avatar

    Yates is a national treasure.

    I thought of him yesterday as I drove home from an extra-early shift at work, trying to stay awake at the wheel.

    Back in the 70’s at C&D, he postulated that highway speed limits should be raised to force drivers to pay attention…that driving too slow induces boredom and sleepiness.

    Remembering that tidbit, I hit 90, woke up and made it home safe and sound.

    I also recall his writing about Cannonball Baker and wanting to put together an underground race to honor Baker’s legacy of running coast-to-coast in 1905 or thereabouts.

  • avatar
    Edsel Maserati

    It’s a damned that such a great voice should be silenced by Alzheimers. Still, by his late 70s he had produced plenty and done a lot.

    I see there’s a page for him on Facebook. Many Cannonball-related things there.

    https://www.facebook.com/brockyatestributefund

    Back to the original post, it would probably be a hoot to see the collected stories and photos of the early events. You’d think this would already had been done.

  • avatar

    I think yates still owes me a few issues of the zine he wrote back in the 80’s…..


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