Blog: Cannonball Run
Dave Leggett | 2 July 2004
Cannonball Run? You know the Cannonball. It’s a highly illegal road race from the US east to west coast (New York to LA). It was made into a film with Burt Reynolds in it (but not Sally Field, that was Smokey and the Bandit). The race was the brainchild of US auto journalist Brock Yates – it was created as a protest against the 55mph speed limit in the USA and the race took place on a number of occasions during the 1970s (as far as I can make out in ’71,’72, ’75 and ’79).
I had a brush with the legendary Cannonball when I was in the US recently at the Indy F1 practice day. I got chatting to the ’72 winner, one Steve ‘Yogi’ Behr. He was driving with Brock Yates and won it in a Cadillac Coupe De Ville. Their time was 37 hours and 16 minutes. The man was full of race stories and tips on how to avoid getting caught speeding and how to save time. Multi-tasking at the petrol pump was one top timesaving tip (feed gasoline into the car’s tank, while at the same time emptying your personal tank onto the rear wheel – forget the restroom - was one).
He was quite a character and a tad eccentric, but then I guess you have to be to go in for that. I think he’s had a few run-ins with speed cops over the years. In his own words, he’s a speed addict. His car – an old Ford – has something like ‘Vote Racers Party’ on it. Maybe he’s standing for President in November.
He gave me a lift back to my hotel. I wondered what I might have let myself in for, but he behaved himself. He’s learnt an important lesson: speed when you know you can get away with it. We’re pictured below in a hospitality suite at Indy a couple of weeks ago. And I came across the below link – it captures the flavour of the Cannonball. I know it’s naughty, but I can’t help but be a bit fascinated by it. Wonder what Brock Yates is up to these days?
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