By on April 10, 2020

Last December, we reported that a team piloting a 2015 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG obliterated the standing Cannonball record between New York City and Los Angeles. In March, we also noted that traffic density has declined immensely as a result of the viral pandemic currently gripping the nation — with those two cities seeing larger declines than the already low national averages. You can probably guess where this is going.

Rumors are circulating that a 2019 Audi A8 was prepped to capitalize on the moment, setting a new Cannonball benchmark while (almost) no one was watching. According to Road & Track, a team of at least three equipped a white sedan with auxiliary fuel tanks and set out from NYC’s Red Ball Garage on the night of April 4th. They arrived at the Redondo Beach finish line less than 27 hours later — beating the old record with time to spare. 

However, it seems the run upset some Cannonball aficionados, some of whom seemed capable of seeing the big picture.

“Do I think this is the best use of time while the country is staying in during a pandemic?” former record-holder Ed Bolian said in an interview with R&T. “Probably not, but for me to say it’s awful is like a cocaine dealer saying a heroin dealer is awful.”

It does seem silly to get bitter about the public safety measures involved in an unsanctioned and totally illegal speed run. Even the drivers who take extra precautions (like mapping out their entire journey in advance, hiring scout cars, or equipping their vehicles with an array of jamming equipment) are primarily doing so in a bid to win. They’re still slinging cars down major roadways at breakneck speeds for little more than the accompanying glory.

If the crew in the A8 are guilty of anything new, it’s unsportsmanlike conduct and not putting the nation first. Then again, what could be more patriotically American than telling the government to shove it as you climb into a high-powered (albeit German) automobile to successfully smash a cross-country speed record?

From Road & Track:

A handful of people who had driven in the C2C Express and the 2904 — Cannonball Run offshoots from recent years that featured a menagerie of low-buck, mostly vintage beaters — had planned to run a no-holds-barred Cannonball on April 4, along with some others who also had the trans-continental record bug. Among that group — self-selected for reasons of safety and to avoid publicity — it would have been open to any car, with no limit on budget, a vast departure from the cost-capped events they had run in past years. But with the COVID-19 death toll rising and more state governments calling for people to stay at home, the event-that’s-not-really-an-event was rightly scrubbed.

Debate within the group of self-anointed Brock Yates disciples raged. Was it appropriate to participate in an illegal cross-country race — or even a time trial — during a period of national crisis? When it became apparent that someone outside this group had gone ahead and completed a very successful run, regardless of high levels of national anxiety and fear over coronavirus, responses ran the gamut from “Nice job!” to “Who the hell do those guys think they are?” to “Who the hell are we to judge them?” There was talk of not recognizing the new 26:38 time set by the white Audi team as a record, due to the extraordinary circumstances.

The outlet goes on to highlight the internal fracas caused by the run and the history of the route from 1971 onwards. We imagine this run will be under scrutiny for a while. Many already believe that the new record isn’t fair, as it happened during a period that either gave the A8 an unfair advantage or somehow put the rest of the world more at risk.

Bolian, who previously mused about the prospect of a COVID Cannonball run, has also spent this week thoughtfully unpacking the legitimacy of the claimed time and everybody’s response via VINwiki. If a 10-minute video on the subject isn’t to your liking, the consensus among those who have made the run in the past is that — yes — the Audi’s time is probably valid. Still, everyone remains up in arms as to whether or not it should be counted.

 

[Image: Audi]

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39 Comments on “Cannonball Run: Coronavirus Edition...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    Yyyyyyes!

    I’m in the camp that this unofficial race doesn’t get put on indefinite hold because of the ‘Rona. Heck, the traffic on a lot of highways in 1971 was about as deserted as it is this week. That gave our forefathers an unfair advantage over the group that set the 2019 record.

    Although I don’t condone illegal, dangerous activimumble mumble mumble harumph!

    (They probably could have taken a little more care with that aux fuel tank installation too…)

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Sooner or later, somebody’s gonna get killed in one of these runs, and if we are very, very, lucky, it’ll just be the asshole driver that thinks the interstate is their own personal racetrack, instead of the proverbial minivan with a family on vacation.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Sooner or later, somebody’s gonna get killed in one of these runs, and if we are very, very, lucky, it’ll just be the #(@*$&#$~! driver that thinks the interstate is their own personal racetrack, instead of the proverbial minivan with a family on vacation.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I’m sure you’ll be front and center with the: SEE I TOLD YOU SO!!!, if it does happen. There’s one in every crowd.

      But mostly they’re doing 150+ MPH out in the open deserts and long stretches with mostly just big trucks around. Aside from those, it gets fairly lonely out there, even on a normal Monday, 9-5.

      Cops are where the crowds are (it’s a business like any other).

      So have you been across the US? Except realistically, I’m a bigger menace to society in MY F-150 doing that run (on business) a few times a year, doing 85 to 90 MPH for hours at a time.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        “Cops are where the crowds are (it’s a business like any other).” LOVE IT! , and true. If you are going fishing, go to where the most fish are.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Why do you think it takes so long to write you ticket? They’re running your credit. If you’re a deadbeat, will let it turn into another warrant, tie up the courts and jails, they’ll just give you a warning.

          • 0 avatar
            MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

            That’s silly as can be – they would need my SS# to run my credit, and no cop has ever asked for it.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        They average well over 100 mph, including the half of the country that is pretty densely settled. They’re not just speeding out in the desert.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          They don’t do ridiculous speeds above traffic, but like I said, where there’s traffic, there’s cops.

          Also it upsets the public when speeders are pulling wild passes at crazy speeds, so they dial 911.

          Obviously making excellent time is pointless if arrested.

          Typically traffic travels in tight clusters so they’re constantly hard on the brakes and standing on the gas, in between. They try to time it so they’re passing through urban areas, late at night.

          Surface streets shouldn’t be on the route except at either coasts.

          No doubt inattentive or texting drivers are many times more dangerous at the speed limit than hyper-attentive cannonballers in sports cars.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            “No doubt inattentive or texting drivers are many times more dangerous at the speed limit than hyper-attentive cannonballers in sports cars.”

            Driving like this makes it impossible for these self-appointed driving gods to avoid the bumbling texters.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Agreed. Sooner or later something tragic is likely. This is the outlaw realm, I can’t imagine how this subculture can be controlled.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      chances are it’ll be some 19-year-old d***head. like the kind of jackhole who wipes out leaving Cars & Coffee, then when the organizers stop holding C&C because of it these twerps mope around sneering “man, this is BULLS***” like they had nothing to do with it.

      remember, personal responsibility is for *other people.*

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        “Why do you think it takes so long to write you ticket? They’re running your credit. ”

        MORE obvious paranoid new world order bullcrap .

        They’re running wants & warrants .

        -Nate
        (edited because I used a naughty word)

  • avatar
    thelaine

    With fewer cars on the road, isn’t this run safer than typical?

    Are these guys emergency room doctors? Nursing home workers? If not, how are they hurting the fight against The Rona? Until they cause a publicized, catastrophic traffic collision, they are outlaw anti-heroes to most car people, especially younger ones.

    Count it.

  • avatar
    Jon

    Can we have more information about the car?

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I’m still not quite sure I understand how street racing for a quarter mile in a Japanese car makes you scum, but street racing for 3000 miles in a German car makes you a hero.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      For the same reasons collecting taxpayer funded welfare makes you scum, but taxpayer funded pensions not so. And doing drugs today makes you scum, but doing so in the sixties was a-ok….

      In reality, street racing is OK, as long as you take some semblance of precaution. And ideally commit harakiri should you seriously hurt someone else. The real scum, are the tax feeders who claim sections of Detroit are no longer policed, only to show up as soon as someone figures that makes it decent place to race and have fun with guns.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Yeah but no. If you win the race by being the only car to show up on race day, what did you really win?

    In this case, the other contestants are the cops, congested traffic and construction zones.

    All things considered, the 45-minute winning time is embarrassing. Beating it under normal conditions will be something to brag about.

  • avatar
    JMII

    An illegal race took advantage of a country wide traffic pause and people are complaining they “cheated”? The whole race is about cheating! While I don’t agree with their foolish actions I have to give them credit for recognizing the opportunity they had in front of them. If ever there was a good time to attempt the Cannonball that time is now. This was totally predictable.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Well put. As long as one is playing in the clandestine space, now, when all the highways are empty, is absolutely the best time to do such a thing. Most conducive to fast travel, and safer too, as in less hazards (vehicles) to deal with.

    • 0 avatar
      phreshone

      No more stupid than other attempts. Perhaps that this has set the bar at a level that people give up the chase, because the next attempt, in normal traffic, will be that much more dangerous…

      The good ol’ boy fun was over when it broke 30 hours…

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Street racing of all kinds isn’t to be celebrated or even reported on IMO. Stop giving these hacks who lack the talent to do real racing the clout they love breaking laws and endangering the public to get.

    Even if they don’t crash or hurt anybody they encourage copycats who probably will, and flout the law. The fact that Ed Bolian was at all involved with the last one says all anyone needs to know about the quality of people who take part in this stuff

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In the GTA during the pandemic, police have reported an increase in what is termed ‘stunt driving’. Generally younger people driving exotics. Often on 400 series highways.

    Paraphrasing Homer Simpson: “Now that I am rich I can give my kids anything they want. Which is why the children of the rich turn out so well.”

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    I just read an article on how Father John Merz, who is an episcopal priest, is arranging meals for workers at Woodhall Medical Center in Queens. I was struck by his entreprenurialism. Then I came here and read this sad little story of these blokes unable to find creative ways to actually be useful.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Bunch of [email protected] who should be thrown in jail for long enough to get really sick of it.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Aging Boomer here .

    I’d never do this because even if I had the $ I don’t have the skillset .

    As long as they don’t kill anyone….

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Aging Boomer? Isn’t that like saying: VIN number? Or Turbo Diesel?

      It’s not as hard as it looks. Just a lot of waiting for a straight open shot, standing on the gas, looking out for cops or anything that can ruin your day, followed by standing on brakes a lot.

      Just like a normal commute on acid.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Boomers are aging at the same rate as anyone else.
        I’m lucky (?) to have been born at the very end of the Baby Boom.
        I’m with you on the “VIN Number” – you hear that almost as often as “enter your PIN Number”. Oy vey…

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Look at the spread of years Boomers were born, some are not that old .

          O.K., I’m a falling apart Boomer, does that make you happier ? =8-) .

          One of my buddies is 85 and I wish I was in as good shape as he is….

          Skinny, healthy bastard he is too .

          I bet he can ride faster than I now, anyone can ride further dammit .

          -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        ATM machine.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    Of course it’s legit – nothing is stopping anyone from doing it faster tomorrow!

  • avatar
    cprescott

    I think my next car will be a hybrid – by that time I will likely be too old to enjoy driving a stick (I really hope that day never comes); I live in an apartment and have no easy access to run a cord to an electric car so I can prove I am with the “in crowd”. Hybrids have come a long way from ugly Toyoduhs so thankfully I could get a Hyundai or Kia version. Honduhs are getting uglier than ever so there is no need to put such a dogpile in my parking spot.

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