Some call it the "Cannonball Run" and some call it the "U.S. Express." Whatever you call it, it is one of the wildest and one of the most shadowy automotive endeavors in existence: race from New York To Los Angeles (roughly 2,800 miles) as quickly as possible. The only rule is there are no rules. On Saturday, October 19, Ed Bolian in a Mercedes-Benz CL 55 AMG did the run in an unfathomable 28 hours and 50 minutes. According to Bolian and his team, the trip averaged 98 mph.
Jalopnik, great scholars of the obscurest corners of car culture, say that the Cannonball Run dated as far back as 1933, when Edwin "Cannonball" Baker of India drove from New York to Los Angeles in 53 hours and 30 minutes behind the wheel of a car known as blue streak. To understand the heroism of the adventure, Baker averaged 50 mph at a time when the interstate didn't exist yet. For forty years, Edwin Baker's record would go untouched.
In the 1970s, the Cannonball returned when Car and Driver contributer Brock Yates created "Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash," the revival of the NY-to-LA challenge, now with an excessively long name. In 1979, Dave Heinz and Dave Yarborough prepped a Jaguar XJS to tackle the Cannonball in just 32 hours and 51 minutes. It only took another four years for Heinz and Yarborough to be bested by Doug Turner and David Diem in a Ferrari 308 that crossed the country in 32 hours and 7 minutes.
Turner and Diem stood for two decades until Alex Roy brought forth a new era of Cannonball. In 2006, Alex Roy and his copilot David Maher crossed the country in 31 hours and 4 minutes. In the modern era of law enforcement and dreaded urban traffic, Roy applied the use of radar jammers, primary backup GPS navigation devices, maps, spreadsheets, and even a spotter plane to achieve the feat. The 31 hour 4 minute record was believed to be unbeatable. Each year, Alex Roy learns about five to seven attempts to break his record. No one came close. So how did Ed Bolian manage to do it?
First, some background: Ed Bolian is the sales director for Lamborghini of Atlanta. As great as the Italian supercars are at rapidly eating mile after mile, Bolian knew he needed something even better in order to give himself a real shot at the challenge. Ed Bolian went with a Mercedes Benz CL55AMG. What makes the German land yacht better, you ask? Two words: active suspension.
"You need active suspension," said Ed Bolian. "You know… for the fuel tanks." Apparently, Bolian has done his homework. In additional to the 23-gallon factory Mercedes gas tank, Bolian has installed two more fuel cells, each capable of holding 22 gallons of fuel. All in all, this is 67 gallons. Given each gallon of gasoline weighs six pounds, that is 402 pounds of fuel! Given the outrageous load on a full tank, the active suspension becomes a no-brainer.
What's more, Ed Bolian employed a police scanner, two Garmin GPS units with traffic capabilities, two iPhone chargers and cradles to run apps like Trapster. There's an iPad charger and cradle, three radar detectors, and even a switch to kill the rear lights. A switch is also available to activate the auxiliary fuel tanks, a CB radio, a giant trunk-mounted antenna and even two laser jammers. Ed also had someone working on a radar jammer. Unfortunately, the radar jammer wasn't ready in time. No matter, Ed Bolian has done enough prep work to not need it.
Two of Ed Bolian's good friends, Dave Black and Dan Huang, volunteered to join Bolian in his ambitious mission as co-pilot and spotter, respectively. What's more, a friend of Ed Bolian and Dave Black was available to drive just 150 miles head of the CL55 to provide warnings of police or construction ahead. Upon leaving Ohio, the team realized their average speed matched Roy's record extremely well. After the trio crossed Texas and entered their final leg, they learned that they could have travelled at the speed limit and still match Alex Roy.
Ultimately, video footage showcasing Ed Bolian's incredible 28 hour 50 minute adventure is no where to be found. Stay tuned as we learn more when the statute of limitations expires for all the traffic violations that he comitted across the states.