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Cannonball Classic-the last great drive of the Century!

27 July 1999

Andrew Frankl

European Bureau Chief

Exactly 20 years ago I stood in the car park of a great pub in Darien, Conn. It was-maybe still is!- called the Lock, Stock and Barrell.The reason- to participate in the last, totally illegal Cannonball run. I am sure most of you will have seen one or maybe both of the films based on this unforgettable event. At the time my partner and I owned two great magazines- CAR and TRUCK. Knowing that it would have been impossible to compete with some of the Ferraris, Porsches and Jaguars we decided to have some fun by entering a truck.

Based on a Ford Transit it had a third-phoney- axle-, twin stacks, airhorns and some great paint work.

Michaelin Tyres and Hitachi, the TV people were our sponsors, both companies contributing 200 pounds or about 320 dollars. The rest came from my partner Fraser-who wisely decided to stay at home- and yours sincerely.

We shipped our little truck across and it immediately became a sensation. Steering wheel on the wrong side, funny, British number plate, funny accents..anyway, we were there and ready for the off. The ambulance that featured in the film was there as were all fast cars.. Ferraris, Porsches, Lambos... and us. There was never any question of being anything but last, this much I predicted when I was interviewed by the BBC shortly before leaving England.

The little rig ran faultlessly all the way to the Portofino Inn on Redondo Beach just South of Los Angeles. There were some serious parties at the Inn and a lot of fun was had by all. I seem to remember that Dave Heinz won in a Jaguar XJS in the somewhat incredible time of 33 hours coast to coast. We came absolutely dead last but I did carry the trophy home on the aeroplane-Last but not lost!

Well, Brock Yates, organiser and possibly the best known automotive writer in the World courtesy of his column in Car and Driver is arranging a re-run, which will be known as the Cannonball Classic. There cannot be too many motoring enthusiasts around who cannot remember Brock and Dan Gurney barreling it through the Nevada desert in a Ferrari at speeds in excess of 170 miles per hour..

This time it promises to be a more stately affair with lots of stops on the way. It will however start in New York with a huge Louis Vuitton party and after five days of hard driving there will be a probably even more riotoubash at the legendary Portofino Inn.

Yours sincerely decided to have a go in the company of some good guys from Canada, except this time it will be in a 365GT/4 and not in a little truck.

If you would like to participate-you can! Why not send a fax to Dan Radowicz on 1 415 292 2790 and he will send you the details by return of post.

See you in New York!