The Gumball 3000 is a semi-legal international street race that has been happening every year since 1999. It’s wikipedia page goes out of it’s way to make the race sound legal, and if one were to only see their start and finish lines that would certainly appear to be true. Watch the videos though, and you’ll see things getting fantastically criminal in-between.
This is amazing.
Even cooler and more outlaw than the Gumball though was the original race that inspired it – The Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash.
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.
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The object of the Cannonball Baker was to leave the Red Ball Garage on East 31st Street in New York City, later a venue in Darien, CT, (the now defunct Lock, Stock, and Barrel restaurant) usually after midnight, and drive to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California in the shortest time possible. Those were the only rules. Nothing was specified as to the route, type of vehicle, or maximum speed permitted. (There was a gentlemen’s agreement that the vehicle entered would be driven the entire distance – no having it transported on another vehicle, nor having an identical second vehicle stashed away, etc.) Speeding citations received along the way were the driver’s responsibility and did not disqualify the vehicle (although having to stop to receive a ticket increased the vehicle’s overall time).
The Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea was inspired in part by films like Two-Lane Blacktop, and went on to inspire more films such as Cannonball, Gumball, Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run 2, and Speed Zone. Speed Zone, the third of the Cannonball Run films, has not yet been released on DVD in the United States, so I present it to you below in YouTube form.
John Candy is the man.