The Rearview Mirror: A Cheesy Movie and a Real Race


Motor vehicle & Driver cover image of the drivers and their automobiles who participated in the 1975 Cannonball Operate.

Cannonball Operate: a tacky motion picture about a legendary race. Operate four moments concerning 1971 and 1979, this week in 1975, the 3rd race was won by Jack May well and Rick Cline in their Ferrari Dino 246 GTS, in 35 hours and 53 minutes, beating the history by one particular minute.

While the genuine race died with its creator, the famous Brock Yates, senior editor of Car & Driver journal, lots of have experimented with to revive it. Nonetheless, there was only a person “Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Sprint,” its name coming from Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker, who set 143 cross-place driving records between 1915 and 1933.

“Every automotive opposition in the world is encumbered by a thicket of bewildering guidelines,” Yates wrote in 1971. “The Cannonball Baker experienced but a single — All rivals will push any car of their selecting, in excess of any route, at any velocity they choose useful, involving the starting stage and desired destination. The competitor finishing with the cheapest elapsed time is the winner.”

There was no prize cash only the S-K “Nutmaster” trophy — a absolutely free-kind sculpture of wrenches, hammers and pliers fabricated and donated by the S-K Software Corporation.

Brock Yates, who established “The Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash.” Picture Credit score: Motor vehicle & Driver

Why the third race issues

For admirers of a speedy and furious way of living, the race has turn out to be legendary. However the third race matters for one motive: it is the only 1 recorded for posterity by just one of its driving groups: retired U.S. Military colonel Jim Atwell and Checkered Flag Porsche salesman Chick Stanton, the two from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

They understood of the function, run in 1971 and 1972. But Yates, who made a decision who would participate, put the race on maintain in 1973 due to the Arab Oil Embargo, and the moment all over again in 1974 since of the enactment of the 55-mph velocity limit.

That didn’t end Atwell and Stanton, who do a exercise operate from the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan, where the race starts off, to The Portofino Inn in Redondo Seaside, California, exactly where it ends, taking meticulous notes in an accounting ledger.

Dashing coast-to-coast in 36 hrs and 6 minutes, 12 minutes short of the Cannonball record, they generate a coveted place in the future race, run in 1975. 

To give them selves the ideal chance of successful, Atwell procured a new 1975 Porsche 911 Carrera. He also borrows his daughter’s portable Craig cassette tape recorder to history their run. It stays the only dwell recording of the unique race. 

The starting up line

Porsche salesman Chick Stanton, remaining, and retired U.S. Military colonel Jim Atwell in advance of working the 1975 Cannonball Run.

Competitors could go away at any time throughout the beginning date. As the pair hold out to begin, Atwell turns to his driving spouse. “We’re heading to catch Yates concerning here and Columbus,” he stated on the recording.

“Alright, the stamp is currently being affixed,” Stanton explained as a Cannonball sticker is affixed to the windshield. “There it is Jim, let us go.”

Tires squealing, engine revving, pulses racing, the Porsche’s roar reverberates all over the garage as Atwell and Stanton find their way on to the avenue. They make the first targeted visitors light.

Guy proposes, God disposes

Whichever luck the pair experienced faded on reaching Pennsylvania. “The weather’s been tough as hell,” Atwell states. “A whole lot of rain, scud, ground fog and the fields are flooded on both sides of the highway.”

In contrast to their 1973 operate, they are previously working slower. The rain persisted by means of to the Midwest, intensifying the strain caused by the din of the Citizens Band radio, the radar detector and the Porsche’s non-halt cacophony of engine drone, highway sound and a barking exhaust. 

Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker, appropriate, with his riding mechanic. Baker, for whom the race is named, established 143 cross-country driving records between 1915 and 1933.

“Although the CB radio is a excellent warning machine, it’s a pain in the ass to have to pay attention to it frequently,” Atwell claims. “We’re the two heading to be deaf by the time we get to Los Angeles.”

What the Cannonball necessitates

It’s tough to overstate the obstacle of collaborating in The Cannonball Run. Drivers experienced to preserve a higher charge of speed with little having, drinking or sleeping. They had to have various driver’s licenses, in circumstance they were pulled more than and their license taken. And in an era in advance of ATMs, they experienced to have hundreds of pounds in cash to spend for speeding tickets that resulted. Two other racers had been presently been nabbed.

“And now, we’re tiptoeing like hell out of Oklahoma,” Stanton grumbles, slowing down to 75 mph. 

“We’re hoping to behave ourselves lengthy ample to get out this state,” Atwell claims. 

Jack May possibly and Rick Cline, winners of the 1975 Cannonball Operate.

“That’s not quick when you have been in the damn condition for 10 several hours,” Stanton replies, laughing.

Closing in on a legend

“We’ve appear across all the states without a little bit of problem,” Atwell explained, noting that the 911 had produced it simple. Being a Porsche, it is built with endurance racing in intellect. That, and a bit of luck, uncovered them in California devoid of the important concerns that experienced befallen other Cannonball participants. 

“We haven’t experienced to phase on the brakes sharply, or sluggish the vehicle sharply, or swerve to keep away from anybody we have not even experienced a around miss with any form,” Atwell claimed. “It’s been a very easy and uneventful journey.”

“It was enjoyment,” Stanton claims as the pair get to the Portofino in 38 several hours and 58 minutes. Averaging 74.5 mph, they spot 7th out of 18 vehicles. Among people who experienced also operate the race was Monthly bill Warner, founder of The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, driving with Tom Nehl, an skilled racer and IMSA veteran. But the winners are Jack May possibly and Rick Cline driving a Ferrari Dino 246 GTS across the state in 35 hours and 53 minutes, beating the history held by Gurney and Yates.

“It was about,” Yates wrote at the time. “The Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Sprint experienced entered the annals of sporting trivialities, leaving future generations to make your mind up what it meant, if anything.”


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By Kelli