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The Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash

On this day in 1971, 23 crazy people in eight vehicles decided to embark on a race from coast to coast across America. This race was called The Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, but thankfully, it would eventually be shortened to The Cannonball Run. The good folks at Car & Driver covered the event a few months later in their March 1972 issue, so read on and learn more about how it all started:

50 Years ago today … PRDA President Oscar Koveleski, Tony Adamowitz, and Brad Niemcek left NYC in a Chevy Van with five 55 gallon drums of Cam 2 gas for a non-stop race to California… and came in 2nd place.

Those damn fools, they went and did it. Shortly after midnight on the 15th of November 1971, six outlandish vehicles, manned by 16 even more outlandish drivers, co-drivers, navigators, mechanics—and a TWA stewardess, for God’s sake—scattered out of the Red Ball Garage on East 31st Street in New York City and headed west. A few hours passed and two more entrants joined the chase—a coast-to-coast epic that will be remembered as the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. Eight vehicles in all, 23 lunatics. Less than a day and a half later (six minutes less, to be precise), the first car, a mud-streaked Ferrari Daytona, yowled into the parking lot of the Portofino Inn in the marina of Redondo Beach, California, 2863 miles from New York. In the next three hours, four more machines had checked in, and the exhausted, red-eyed competitors were lounging around, breathing the gentle Pacific air, stretching their cramped, grubby bodies in the warm sun, and exchanging tales of their adventures. Twenty-four more hours passed before the last competitor, a pachydermatous Travco Motor Home with a shrieking police motorcycle escort, rolled sedately over the finish line… read more >

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