These Luxury Sports Cars Have Held the Cannonball Run Record

Car enthusiasts and driving fanatics — or, at least, fans of the YouTube channel VINWiki — know of the crazy, illegal, cross-country race against time called the Cannonball Run. The driving experience is intense and strenuous, with an average of 1 to 3 drivers being included in the run. But, for as much stress as it puts on the drivers, there is also an unimaginable amount of strain on the vehicle chosen, as it is run consecutively for 25 – 40 hours straight at high speeds, in sometimes less than ideal conditions. The cars selected aren’t necessarily the fastest cars on the road, either, but typically something under the radar and capable of completing the journey. These are the cars that hold Cannonball Run records.

What is the Cannonball Run?

Cannonball run record holders
Arne Toman, 41, of Chicago, left, Forrest Sibley, 31, Atlanta , center, and Ed Bolian, 30, of Atlanta drove the 1974 Dodge Monaco Bluemobile a 2003 Silverado V8 to a first place finish in 34 hours 16 minutes where they pose September 19, 2016 in Redondo Beach, CA | Katherine Frey/The Washington Post, Getty Images

The Cannonball Run is a race against time that doesn’t follow any specific path. It is up to the drivers to decide which route to take from Point A, the Redball Garage in New York City, New York, to Point B, the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, California. The record itself is focused on a standard passenger car, but there are separate categories for electric vehicles, semi-autonomous vehicles, motorcycles, and even electric motorcycles, but the record that really matters is currently held by Arne Toman, Doug Tabbutt, and Dunadel Daryoush. The goal is simple: drive over the speed limit, minimize stop time, and don’t get arrested.

What is done to the cars to make them Cannonball worthy?

There is a lot that goes into preparing a car for a Cannonball Run, as they typically take between 25 – 40 hours of consecutive, hard driving. This means maintenance such as tires, engine oil, transmission oil, spark plugs, and everything else that could go wrong on a car is tended to — the distance of the Cannonball Run can vary greatly depending on what route is taken, but, as a complete cross-country trek, it’s more than enough to put significant physical strain on every component of your vehicle. In addition to getting these cars in top shape, many of them are also heavily modified — with the exception being one rented 2019 Ford Mustang that made the trip during the pandemic.

In order to reduce the need for frequent stops, auxiliary gas tanks are typically added, allowing the vehicle to hold more fuel. As you can imagine, this adds a significant amount of weight and shifts in weight as the added fuel burn away, which is why Ed Bolian selected a 2004 Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG with a self-level suspension to help compensate for the difference in weight.

Besides that, these cars are often endowed with lots of additional tech devices and setups such as police scanners, radar jammers, laptops that can monitor the car’s vitals, radios, and much more that aren’t commonly discussed. It is worth noting that a lot of the technology added to these vehicles is illegal in most states — but the Cannonball Run itself is entirely illegal, as to break the record, you have to go significantly over the speed limit.

The Cannonball records, cars, times, and drivers

35 hours + 54 minutes1971Dan Gurney, Brock YatesFerrari Daytona
32 hours + 7 minutes1983David Diem, Doug TurnerFerrari 308
31 hours + 4 minutes2006Alex Roy, Dave Maher2000 BMW M5
28 hours + 50 minutes2013Ed Bolian, Dave Black, Dan Huang2004 Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG
27 hours + 25 minutes2019Arne Toman, Doug Tabbutt, Berkeley Chadwick2015 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
26 hours + 38 minutes2020Captain Chaos2019 Audi A8
25 hours + 55 minutes2020Fred Ashmore2019 Ford Mustang
25 hours + 39 minutes2020Arne Toman, Doug Tabbutt, Dunadel Daryoush2016 Audi S6

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