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Cars > GoldyLocks’s Garage > Blog > CannonBall Run has roots in fast bikes and cars.


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Lincoln, Nebraska
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CannonBall Run has roots in fast bikes and cars.

By GoldyLocks

Most of us think about the movie when someone mentions the name, CannonBall Run. But, like a lot of things, there is a rich and interesting history to this movie and the event.

It ended with cars, but it started with bikes. Let's start with the bike side.

The word "CannonBall" first came from Erwin "Cannonball" Baker. He first started a cross-country motorcycle trip. On V-twin 1000cc Stutz Indian motorcycle, Cannonball Baker drove his bike from the East Coast to Yuma, Arizona, enduring all sorts of weather, including a sandstorm, along the way. Along the way he had to fight off a pack of dogs...a fight he won thanks to his Smith & Wesson.

Cannonball's set the stage for the cross-country runs and the big-bike runs now famous and popular in America.

Now, fast forward to cars.


The Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, widely known simply as the Cannonball Baker or Cannonball Run, was an unofficial, if not outlaw, automobile race run four times in the 1970s from New York City and Darien, CT, on the US Atlantic (east) coast, to Redondo Beach, a Los Angeles suburb on the Pacific. Conceived by car magazine writer and auto racer, Brock Yates, and fellow Car and Driver editor, Steve Smith, in 1971, the run was not a real competitive race with high risks, but intended both as a celebration of the United States Interstate Highway System and a protest against strict traffic laws coming into effect at the time.

As it was found out, the newly imposed 55 mph speed limit was actually slower than the quickest average speeds of point-to-point travels of Erwin George "Cannon Ball" Baker in the first half of the 20th century. In 1933, Baker drove coast to coast in a Graham-Paige model 57 Blue Streak 8, averaging greater than 50 mph, setting a 53 hour 30 minute record that stood for nearly 40 years. If this could be done by a single man driving on bad roads and through villages, a team of two or more experienced (and even professional race) drivers, driving a modern car on safer and wider intersection-free highways which by-pass towns, should be able to do it quicker without taking unacceptable risks apart from getting a speeding ticket, by cruising at 90 to 100 mph.

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jebfastlane’s Profile Photo
May 19, 2008 at 6:37 am
Interesting, I did not know this, thanks for the lesson I will remember.
JerryandMary’s Profile Photo
May 5, 2008 at 4:39 pm
Those were exciting days. I still remember when Vegas had a highway speed limit that was "as fast as is safe" which was no limit.
Our computer has been down for several hours and we have a tech coming from the cable company in the am to do cable replacement.


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Cars > GoldyLocks’s Garage > Blog > CannonBall Run has roots in fast bikes and cars.

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