BBsGarage Reader
6/20/08 1:14 p.m.

Not quite the same as in days gone by but.................

Of all the things gearheads making the 2,600-mile Great American Run through the West will worry about -- avoiding the cops, keeping the car intact, finding a bathroom before their bladders burst -- the size of their carbon footprint is at the bottom of the list.

What a footprint it is. The 200 or so cars competing in the second annual race -- an update of the famed Cannonball Run -- will spew about as much CO2 in seven days as the average person generates in 16 years. Mention that to the drivers and they'll probably ask, "Yeah? And?" They know they'll take some heat from environmentalists, and they're unapologetic.

"How much more do they want to strangle the human race," asks race founder Tim "Maverick" Porter. "Why can't car enthusiasts have a little fun?"

The Great American Run descended from the Cannonball Run, the celebration of unfettered speed moto-journalist Brock Yates founded in 1971. The only point was crossing the country as quickly as possible. It was blatantly illegal and wildly popular -- it's spawned two movies and several imitators - until the 55 mph speed limit and a lot of heat from the cops shut it down in 1979. (By the way, the current record for crossing the country stands at 31 hours and 4 minutes, set by Alex Roy and Dave Maher during a flat-out run that Wired wrote about.)

Porter, who's always had a thing for fast cars and open roads, brought it back to life seven years ago with an annual run through Europe. It came to the states last year and attracted 200 cars for a cross-country dash to Los Angeles. The rules are a little more strict than they were when legendary racing driver Dan Gurney quipped, "At no point did we exceed 175 mph" after winning the event in 1972. These days, entrants must average 61 mph. "It's still tough, but it's not flat-out," Porter says. "It's not socially acceptable to run flat-out anymore."

That isn't to say the drivers don't occasionally hit triple-digit velocities. "We don't break the rules," Porter says. "We just bend them a little." Still, Porter claims no one's ever been injured during one of his rallies and there's been only a few minor accidents.

This year's event, which starts Sept. 7, is a 2,600-mile loop through the West beginning and ending in Los Angeles. The route is top secret -- "If it's published on a blog somewhere, every cop in the world will stake out the route" -- but includes a stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Expect a wild assortment of cars -- last year's fleet included a Bugatti Veyron, several Ferraris and Porsches, a lot of American muscle cars and even a GMC crew-cab pickup.

We were curious to know how big a carbon footprint the cars left. We picked 10 at random and used an online C02 calculator to determine their emissions over 3,000 miles. Multiply that by 20 and you get 648,000 pounds of CO2 for the fleet. It's unscientific, sure, but it gives you a ballpark idea. The Union of Concerned Scientists says the average person generates 40,000 pounds of C02 a year.

Registration is open, but you'd better have a healthy bank account -- the entry fee is $20,000. Gasoline and carbon offsets not included.

Photo: Great American Race.

GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/20/08 1:26 p.m.

As you might have guessed, those Cannonball-type events are attended largely by dumbasses, but they are very rich dumbasses, so being arrested (as unlikely as that is) is just an inconvenience, and telling the whole world to kiss their ass is like telling a telemarketer to bugger off.

Josh Reader
6/20/08 1:54 p.m.

I like the creative math in the second paragraph. What that REALLY says is that the participants in this event create as much CO2 in 7 days as the average person creates in 29 days. Of course, when that average person goes on vacation in the family SUV...

slefain Dork
6/20/08 2:39 p.m.

Mel: I can't see E36 M3, can you? Terry: No problem, son, no problem...

Fenderbaum: We've got a secret weapon. God is our co-pilot!

The Greek: You'll need him!

Jamie Blake: God is our copilot?

Fenderbaum: Uh huh...

Jamie Blake: Remember our car?

Fenderbaum: Uh huh...

Jamie Blake: Two seats?

Fenderbaum: Two seats...

Jamie Blake: Where's he gonna sit?[smack]

Jamie Blake: Where's he gonna sit?[smack]

Fenderbaum: [Fenderbaum and Blake's Ferrari drives alongside J.J.'s ambulance] Pull over! We want to give you our blessing!

Victor Prinsi: J.J., there are two priests in that car. They want us to pull over.

J.J. McClure: Victor, that's two priests driving a Ferrari. When's the last time you saw two priests drive a Ferrari? What are they doing, taking home the bingo money?

Victor Prinsi: No, they're doing the work of the Lord. In a Ferrari, they can just do it faster.

Fenderbaum: Why'd he call me Shorty?

Jamie Blake: 'Cause you're small. Small. S - M - all.

neon4891 HalfDork
6/20/08 10:43 p.m.

I would give my left nut to drive in a cannonball-type event and get away with it with my licence/car/body intact

confuZion3 HalfDork
6/21/08 8:17 a.m.

I still don't get it. People really RACED around this loop? Like, I'm gonna get there before you? My Bugatti Veyron is faster than your Porsche 911 Turbo, so you're going to lose?

They keep saying it's illegal, so I assume that people do drive pretty fast in this thing. Seems kind of dangerous.

ignorant SuperDork
6/21/08 8:48 a.m.

lamer than a trucker hat

gamby SuperDork
6/21/08 4:00 p.m.

Ending bloopers.

Rosary bleeds FTMFW

neon4891 HalfDork
6/21/08 7:40 p.m.

A shorter legal version of this stuff is the Silver State Classic, and for our 2 wheeled bretheren, The Iron Butt Rally

Gearheadotaku GRM+ Memberand New Reader
6/22/08 8:48 p.m.

Those weren't fathers, they were...



Our Preferred Partners