I had forgotten all about coast-to-coast Cannonball Runs. Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker was the first, of course, going from the East Coast to the West Coast in 53.5 hours in 1933, driving a Graham-Paige Model 57 Blue Streak 8.
The late Brock Yates, of Car and Driver fame, got it down to 32 hours, 51 minutes in 1971, and the 30-hour mark fell to Dave Black and Ed Bolian in 2013 (28 hours, 50 minutes).
Now, Arne Toman and Doug Tabutt have shaved over an hour off that time. With the help of spotter Berkeley Chadwick, they motored from Manhattan’s Red Ball Garage to the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, California, in 27 hours and 25 minutes.
Brock Yates wore many hats during his enviable madcap life, and each one blew off as he pinned the accelerator to the firewall.
The longtime Car & Driver editor, racecar driver, brief TTAC contributor, author, restaurateur, television commentator, screenwriter, Cannonball Run founder and fierce critic of government regulations packed a burning passion for cars into every strand of his DNA.
Yates passed away yesterday from complications of Alzheimer’s. He was 82.
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.
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