Milestones in Speed - Power

Don Sherman Matthew Phenix David Yochum
Ian Dawson Getty Images IMS Photo
David Johnson

> Cannonball Run
The date: November 15, 1971.
The goal: to drive from New York, New York, to Redondo Beach, California, as quickly as possible.
The rules: none. The unofficial rally - a stiff middle finger in the face of the safety establishment - was the brainchild of Car and Driver's Brock Yates and Steve Smith. Dubbed the Cannonball Run, it was also meant to honor Cannon Ball Baker, who had set 143 distance records dating back to 1914 and who held the speed record for a coast-to-coast journey at 53 hours, 30 minutes in a 1933 Graham.

The first race drew eight entries, including a van driven by the Polish Racing Drivers of America - Oscar Kovaleski, Brad Niemcek, and Tony Adamowicz - and a motorhome. But Yates positioned himself in the odds-on favorite, a brand-new Ferrari Daytona squired mostly by everybody's all-American racer, Dan Gurney. Despite snow in the Rockies, Gurney and Yates completed the run in 35 hours and 54 minutes, beating the PRDA van by less than an hour. Later, Gurney told the Los Angeles Times: "At no time did we exceed 175 mph."

The rally was run on three more occasions, and Yates later developed the One Lap of America as a legitimate successor to the Cannonball. But even after he disavowed the concept, outlaw copycats continued to proliferate, much to his annoyance. Two years ago, New Yorker Alex Roy used an elaborate spotter system to set a new transcontinental record in a BMW M5. But we'll take Gurney and Yates in a Daytona.

In 1962, Parnelli Jones broke the 150-mph barrier at Indy in a Watson roadster. The following year, he drove the same car to victory in the 500, beating Jim Clark in a rear-engine Lotus.

It was, in effect, the end of the roadster era.

> Wally Parks
As one of the founders of the Southern California Timing Association in 1937, Wally Parks already had a history of hot-rodding by the time he served in the military during World War II. How natural, then, that he should have been known for driving the fastest jeep in the Pacific. After the war, he helped to arrange the SCTA's use of the Bonneville Salt Flats. He cofounded the show that evolved into the SEMA extravaganza, edited Hot Rod at its launch in 1948, and cofounded the National Hot Rod Association in 1951. Genial and folksy, Parks was a visionary without being a tyrant.

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