“It did not escape many long-time Cannonballers that an immobilized workforce and hard times might create ideal road conditions for fast driving thanks to much lower traffic volumes. Musing in online chat groups ensued. But most decided that it was better to cast their lot with the rest of humanity and stay home. Most, but not all.”
—Angelo Melluso, Road & Track
Road & Track is reporting that the New York-to-Los Angeles record may have been broken again—this time with a blazing time of 26 hours and 38 minutes. The time (if real) beats the 2019 record by 45 minutes. At the moment, the driver and any accomplices are unknown. The car of choice was a white 2019 Audi A8 equipped with extra fuel tanks. Debate is raging about the appropriateness of such an act given that most states have stay at home orders. The pandemic remains a serious risk to public health—in America almost 20,000 people have died thus far. The article below notes that the responses to this pandemic Cannonball cover the gamut from “Nice job!” to “Who the hell do those guys think they are?” to “Who the hell are we to judge them?” See the following Road & Track article for more complete details on this record breaking road trip.
REPOSTED FROM ROAD & TRACK:
Only a few months have passed since we reported that the New York-to-Los Angeles Cannonball record was broken. It’s allegedly been broken again. The 26 hour, 38 minute time—which beats the record set in November by more than 45 minutes—appears to be legitimate, according to Ed Bolian, a Cannonball insider and driver who set his own 28 hour, 50 minute record in 2013. Alex Roy, who set the first modern NYC-to-LA record in 2006, also said the new claim is credible based on his analysis of multiple sources.
All we know about this new set of scofflaws is that there were three, maybe four of them, and that they were driving a white 2019 Audi A8 sedan with a pair of red plastic marine fuel tanks ratchet-strapped into its trunk. They started at the Red Ball Garage in New York City at 11:15 pm on April 4, and ended less than 27 hours later at the Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach, California, the traditional start and end points of a Cannonball attempt.
We also know that their timing was awful. It doesn’t seem likely that the new record-holders were keen to have news reach the public so soon, especially at a time when so many people are understandably on edge. But an exuberant friend posted a picture of the Audi on Facebook this week—situated among a number of other high-dollar cars, with its trunk open to show the auxiliary fuel tanks—along with the team’s alleged time. Within a day, hundreds of people had shared the post, and social media chat groups were abuzz with Cannonball aficionados offering up opinions on the matter.
“Do I think this is the best use of time while the country is staying in during a pandemic?” Bolian asked 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.”
As the world reels over the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic, many people around the world are sick, out of work, and generally anxious over an uncertain post-pandemic future. Stay-at-home orders are de rigueur in most of the country, and the economy has ground to a near-standstill as the government and healthcare providers grapple with the spiraling rate of infection, death, and unemployment created by the virus.
It did not escape many long-time Cannonballers that an immobilized workforce and hard times might create ideal road conditions for fast driving thanks to much lower traffic volumes. Musing in online chat groups ensued. But most decided that it was better to cast their lot with the rest of humanity and stay home. Most, but not all.
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.
But as John Ficarra, the creator and organizer of The 2904, pointed out, there is no sanctioning body for illegal cross-country races and time trials. He suggested that those worried about besmirching the Cannonball legacy were taking themselves too seriously.
“How do you tarnish something that’s illegal and that the general public already hates?” he asked. “If we come together as The Council of Cannonball or whatever and say, ‘No, we forbid this,’ who really gives a shit? This whole Cannonball thing is small potatoes. It’ll blow over.”
Ben “Charlie Safari” Wilson, who created and organized the C2C Express (the final running of which was held in 2019) said that, although he understands the idea that someone could look at relatively empty roads and imagine driving fast, the fact that someone would do it now was in poor taste.
“It’s never completely responsible to drive across the country fast without stopping, but now is completely the wrong time,” he said.
Alex Roy took it a step further, and said that the run had the potential to cause harm during an already bad situation.
“If you hit a truck moving medical supplies and people die because of it, that’s on you,” he said. “People are counting on those trucks moving around right now. It’s not funny.”