Car enthusiasts and driving fanatics — or, at least, fans of the YouTube channel VINWiki — know of the crazy, illegal, cross-country race against time called the Cannonball Run. The driving experience is intense and strenuous, with an average of 1 to 3 drivers being included in the run. But, for as much stress as it puts on the drivers, there is also an unimaginable amount of strain on the vehicle chosen, as it is run consecutively for 25 – 40 hours straight at high speeds, in sometimes less than ideal conditions. The cars selected aren’t necessarily the fastest cars on the road, either, but typically something under the radar and capable of completing the journey. These are the cars that hold Cannonball Run records.
What is the Cannonball Run?
The Cannonball Run is a race against time that doesn’t follow any specific path. It is up to the drivers to decide which route to take from Point A, the Redball Garage in New York City, New York, to Point B, the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, California. The record itself is focused on a standard passenger car, but there are separate categories for electric vehicles, semi-autonomous vehicles, motorcycles, and even electric motorcycles, but the record that really matters is currently held by Arne Toman, Doug Tabbutt, and Dunadel Daryoush. The goal is simple: drive over the speed limit, minimize stop time, and don’t get arrested.
What is done to the cars to make them Cannonball worthy?
There is a lot that goes into preparing a car for a Cannonball Run, as they typically take between 25 – 40 hours of consecutive, hard driving. This means maintenance such as tires, engine oil, transmission oil, spark plugs, and everything else that could go wrong on a car is tended to — the distance of the Cannonball Run can vary greatly depending on what route is taken, but, as a complete cross-country trek, it’s more than enough to put significant physical strain on every component of your vehicle. In addition to getting these cars in top shape, many of them are also heavily modified — with the exception being one rented 2019 Ford Mustang that made the trip during the pandemic.
In order to reduce the need for frequent stops, auxiliary gas tanks are typically added, allowing the vehicle to hold more fuel. As you can imagine, this adds a significant amount of weight and shifts in weight as the added fuel burn away, which is why Ed Bolian selected a 2004 Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG with a self-level suspension to help compensate for the difference in weight.
Besides that, these cars are often endowed with lots of additional tech devices and setups such as police scanners, radar jammers, laptops that can monitor the car’s vitals, radios, and much more that aren’t commonly discussed. It is worth noting that a lot of the technology added to these vehicles is illegal in most states — but the Cannonball Run itself is entirely illegal, as to break the record, you have to go significantly over the speed limit.
The Cannonball records, cars, times, and drivers
|35 hours + 54 minutes||1971||Dan Gurney, Brock Yates||Ferrari Daytona|
|32 hours + 7 minutes||1983||David Diem, Doug Turner||Ferrari 308|
|31 hours + 4 minutes||2006||Alex Roy, Dave Maher||2000 BMW M5|
|28 hours + 50 minutes||2013||Ed Bolian, Dave Black, Dan Huang||2004 Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG|
|27 hours + 25 minutes||2019||Arne Toman, Doug Tabbutt, Berkeley Chadwick||2015 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG|
|26 hours + 38 minutes||2020||Captain Chaos||2019 Audi A8|
|25 hours + 55 minutes||2020||Fred Ashmore||2019 Ford Mustang|
|25 hours + 39 minutes||2020||Arne Toman, Doug Tabbutt, Dunadel Daryoush||2016 Audi S6|