From ocean to ocean in 29 hoursJanuary 31, 2019
In 1971, the American magazine Car and Driver organized a demonstration run from New York to Los Angeles in protest against strict speed limits. Thus began the story of the Cannonball, an iconic informal race on public roads, in which participants cross the United States from the East Coast to the West, trying to overcome 2800 miles as soon as possible, breaking the rules at their peril. In honor of the “Cannonball”, several films were shot, and thousands of brave motorists visited the route, but the absolute record of Ed Bolian has been holding since 2013. How did he do it? He is happy to share memories of that crazy trip!
Twenty eight hours, fifty minutes and twenty six seconds. That was what Ed Boliana and his teammates, Dave Black and Dan Huan needed, to travel 2813 miles and get from the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan to the Portofino Hotel in Los Angeles. The start and finish of their journey corresponded exactly to the original Cannonball race. It, by the way, was held only four times, in 1971, 1972, 1975 and 1979, and the first was won by the crew of the legendary American racer Dan Gurney at Ferrari Daytona.
Despite such a short history, the Cannonball race won a huge number of fans and followers who also began to organize similar runs, and any marathon for a time on the roads of the USA is now called the Cannonball.
Many, however, deviate from the classic route, as in the Gumball 3000, GoldRush Rally and One Lap of America races, others come up with fun rules. For example, in the transcontinental run called “2904” you need not only to drive 2904 miles as quickly as possible, but also to lay the budget of the entire trip, including the purchase of a car, at 2904 dollars!
Such a marathon is even held by police officers in order to honor the memory of colleagues killed in the service of their colleagues and collect donations to their families.
In this case, all, of course, go by the rules, but during record races, the drivers risk not only getting into an accident, but also getting in jail. Well, it’s the classic route of the original “Cannonball” that causes the brave souls a special thrill.
In 1971, the crew of Dena Gurney overcame it in 35 hours and 54 minutes, and Ed Bolyan had to beat the record of the famous journalist and creator of The Drive automobile portal Alex Roy, who in 2007 crossed the USA on the BMW M5 in the back of the E39 in 31 hours and 4 minutes at an average speed of 90.1 mph, that is, 145 km / h. In general, the task before Bolian was very difficult, but for him this was not just a record …
“In fact, this journey began for me ten years ago, when I was in high school and interviewed Brock Yeats, the founder of the original Cannonball race. I asked him about a career in automotive journalism and learned a lot from him, and also said that once I beat the Cannonball record! He wished me luck, although in his book he expressed strong doubts about this.
Over the next ten years, I spent a lot of time to figure out why this record is worth breaking, because for me it was not just a chapter in American automotive history, but a kind of test that I could consider myself a real car enthusiast. In addition, it was an uncompromising way to learn something new, to strengthen its character and, perhaps, to uncover some talent. Preparing for this record allowed me to look at myself from completely unexpected sides.
I began to build a real network of people who would help me and warn me about the dangers on the route. Moreover, when I told my acquaintances to motorists that I was going to break the record for “Cannonball,” they all were delighted and immediately recalled the film of the same name. But as soon as I told someone that he would make an excellent partner for the crew, and that he needed to purchase a lot of equipment and retrofit a car, almost all of them included the rear one. Alas, usually in such races one person takes all the concerns, including the financial component, but I was ready for this. ”
Ed had to choose a car, on which he will go on a journey, and seriously modify it. As a result, he settled on a large coupe Mercedes CL 55 AMG produced in 2004, which he bought with a mileage of 115,000 miles. Firstly, the V8 5.4 compressor with a capacity of 500 forces can easily accelerate the car and maintain high speed, and secondly, unlike supercars, the CL is not so noticeable for the police. But there were other reasons.
“The first car I purchased in the hope of setting a record was the S-Class W220 in AMG version 55 of 2003. He was quite poorly equipped and did not look too neat, but he was well-suited for the project, so I wrote a check for $ 16,000 and took it. Preparation began, but after only three months an accident occurred, and the S-Class was destroyed.
I received insurance compensation, bought another S-class, but I postponed the preparation due to the large amount of work. Then I changed some more cars and even thought about going on my Lamborghini Murcielago, until I finally bought a CL 55 AMG. It turned out that CL is great for this race. It is inconspicuous, fast enough, and most importantly, able to cope with the load in the form of three tall passengers, a pile of electronics and additional fuel.
It was important that the car did not sit down on the belly and maintain a normal position relative to the road, and for this purpose the ABC active hydraulic spring suspension, which was mounted on a Mercedes, perfectly suited. Unfortunately, this is the Achilles’ heel in terms of maintenance, and I had a lot of trouble with it, but in the end it was worth it.
I looked at a lot of different cars, for example, Aston Martin Rapide and Lotus Evora, I hoped that I would get support from some manufacturer, but in the end Aston’s service turned out to be too expensive, and Lotus simply did not allow to take the third one and install an additional fuel tank. I was close to buying a Bentley Continental GT, a Porsche Panamera Turbo and even a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, but eventually I returned to the AMG cars. I bought this CL in Atlanta for $ 17,500. “
One of the keys to success in a record race of Bolian was hidden in the fuel strategy and the number of refueling.
“When you plan to set such a record, you have to take into account a huge number of factors: the police, navigation, your own physiology, the state of the car and roads, weather, traffic and possible traffic jams due to accidents. You need to control everything that can interfere with your goal, and one of the key issues is fuel.
Because it doesn’t matter how fast you drive, because if you stop often, your result flies derailed. Our average speed while driving was 100.3 m / h (161.4 km / h), and the absolute result including stops was 98 m / h (157.7 km / h). In preparation for this record, I studied the previous achievements of Alex Roy and Dave Maher on the BMW M5, which made six stops for refueling, as well as Richard Rowlings and Dennis Collins on the Ferrari 550 Maranello. They had six or seven refueling. My goal was to halve the number of stops.
The math is simple: 3000 miles and four full tanks mean that the power reserve should be about 750 miles (1207 km), that is, you need to have a supply of 60-65 gallons (227-246 l) of fuel on board, taking into account a standard tank with a capacity of 23 gallons (87 l). In the end, I installed two additional tanks of 23 gallons in the trunk and refueled all three tanks during stops.
The tests were not without overlays. Once we were driving along a highway in South Carolina, my partner activated a transfer pump to fill the main tank with additional fuel. After some time we saw a car honking and blinking headlights to us. We thought that someone was dissatisfied with our speeding, but it turned out that gasoline was leaking from the car!
We jumped out onto the street, grabbed a fire extinguisher, opened the trunk, but the problem was that the transfer pump was too powerful and the gasoline just flowed out of the crowded main tank. As a result, we reduced the transfer time, and now it ranged from eight to ten minutes. The problem was that everything had to be done almost by eye, using a stopwatch, but it worked.
We made our first stop after more than eight hundred miles, that is, we went with a reserve. She took nine minutes. We got out of the car, inserted credit cards into gas stations, stretched our legs, ran to the toilet and returned to the road.
At the second stop in Texas, we had problems. I tried to pay for refueling from the card, but the system rejected the operation every time. The partners were in shock, because we just had another 852 miles! I despaired because we did not have enough cash to pay for gas. Finally, we found a working credit card and spent 12 minutes to refuel.
We returned to the car, and I immediately received a bunch of messages from the bank about suspicious transactions with my card. Then there was a strange phone call from American Express on the same topic, they asked for confirmation of the operation and explained to me that the previous transaction was too far from the current one, and the flight schedule suggests that this is simply impossible. I said that I was not going to explain how it happened, but I insistently asked to activate the card at least for the next 24 hours.
Our third stop was much better, although we were already exhausted. We no longer needed to fill all three tanks to the brim, and we did it in 7 minutes. All refueling took us 28 minutes, in addition, we stopped two more times to add oil, because its consumption was much greater than expected. Well, and about once every 400 miles I gave way to my partner. In total, we stood 46 minutes. ”
Machine Ed was under the string hung with additional equipment. In addition to additional fuel tanks, Bolian took several radar detectors, two GPS navigators, a civilian and police walkie-talkie, jammers for radar, a GPS tracker for fixing the record, an inverter, a fire extinguisher, a hydraulic jack and a full-size spare tire.
In addition, the CL retrofitted additional 12-volt power outlets and a rear light switch to be less noticeable at night. All the improvements cost Bolian $ 9000, although a significant part went to dashboard up Mercedes’s capricious active suspension. Mainly, the companions watched the instruments, but it was not easy to steer.
“Despite careful preparation and a lot of auxiliary equipment, a huge number of problems arose during the trip itself, which we could not foresee. The hardest test for me was the site after the city of Winslow in Arizona. Obviously, if you go in the morning from east to west, then sooner or later the sun will shine right in your eyes. That is why the logo of the “Cannonball” is a road directed strictly at the Sun!
We thought a lot about how to leave the setting or rising sun is great in terms of speeding, because the police very rarely lie in wait in such conditions, but we did not attach importance to the blinding effect when moving against the sun. I tried to keep our usual speed of 135-145 m / h (217-233 km / h), but in front of me there was just a huge white spot, although I put on my darkest sunglasses that my partner Dave had.
The situation was aggravated by insects that left marks on the windshield. And these were not at all those small points that are obtained if the beetle is knocked down at a speed of 70 miles / hour, but huge stripes all over the glass! It was a palisade through which I saw the brightest white light.
Besides us, cretins, there were very few cars on the road, there were only various carriers. We raced in the left lane, I almost did not see the markup and sometimes tried to see at least something in the mirror, adapting to changing the bright picture to the dark one. Other participants in the movement had similar problems, so we almost ran into a FedEx truck. I have nothing against this company, but in my opinion they have the worst drivers I’ve ever seen.
The truck suddenly began to reorganize into our lane, I pressed the brake with all my might, hit the signal button on the steering wheel and drove my left wheels onto the gravel lane to avoid a collision. My teammates were scared then, but that was the only time we almost had an accident. ”
Ed Bolian’s crew started from Manhattan on October 19 at 21:55 and arrived in Portofino on October 20 at 11:46 pm. The maximum speed to which the CL accelerated during the record run was 158 m / h or 254 km / h.
“We raced across Ohio at an average speed of 108 m / h, gave out 110 m / h in Indiana, 117 m / h in Illinois, drove all the way almost without incident and ended up taking 2 hours and 14 minutes from the previous record. It was some kind of surrealism! When I went out into the street at night and glanced around the marina of Portofino, I felt an absolute catharsis. I hope that each of you will be able to find your own Cannonball, that is, a goal that will motivate you to great deeds. ”
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