Cannonball!: America's Greatest Outlaw Road Race Info

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This first book of its kind tells the behind-the-scenes
story of the incredibly illegal Cannonball rally. In the early 1970s,
Brock Yates, senior editor of Car and Driver Magazine, created the now
infamous Cannonball Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash; a flat out,
no-holds-barred race from New York City to Redondo Beach, California.
Setting out to prove that well trained drivers could safely navigate the
American highways at speeds in excess of the posted limits, Mr. Yates
created a spectacle reminiscent of the glory days of the barnstorming
pilots. Filled with fascinating unpublished stories, nostalgic and
modern-day photographs, inside information and hilarious stories from
this outrageous and incredibly immoral rally. Brock is one of the
best-known, most respected automotive journalists in the world
today.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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4.55

324 Ratings

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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for Cannonball!: America's Greatest Outlaw Road Race:

5

Nov 03, 2011

Awesome.

I can think of no better way to explain how good this book is than to say that it will almost certainly make you want to attempt a high-speed, cross-country road race in your car. I've recommended it to several people and every one of them has come back with that suggestion.

I'm pretty sure that's why Yates included a bit of advice from one of the drivers who'd done it (note: I'm paraphrasing 'cause I'm too lazy to look up the quote):

If you think you'd like to try a cannonball, go out Awesome.

I can think of no better way to explain how good this book is than to say that it will almost certainly make you want to attempt a high-speed, cross-country road race in your car. I've recommended it to several people and every one of them has come back with that suggestion.

I'm pretty sure that's why Yates included a bit of advice from one of the drivers who'd done it (note: I'm paraphrasing 'cause I'm too lazy to look up the quote):

If you think you'd like to try a cannonball, go out this weekend and sit in your car. Don't go anywhere. Just sit in your car in your driveway for two days straight. If, after doing that, you still want to do a cannonball, then maybe you should give it a shot.
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4

Apr 04, 2012

The book is composed of loose stories and tidbits from the actual Cannonball races from the 70's. Yates spins tales of outwitting local law enforcement, driving at breakneck speeds, and generally having a blast. Several of the original participants share anecdotes, and in the hardcover edition, there are photos from the actual event, including the infamous Trans-Con Medivac and some from the set of the movie.

I'd recommend it as an interesting look into the tumultuous world of the late 70's and The book is composed of loose stories and tidbits from the actual Cannonball races from the 70's. Yates spins tales of outwitting local law enforcement, driving at breakneck speeds, and generally having a blast. Several of the original participants share anecdotes, and in the hardcover edition, there are photos from the actual event, including the infamous Trans-Con Medivac and some from the set of the movie.

I'd recommend it as an interesting look into the tumultuous world of the late 70's and what a handful of automotive journalists did to make their mark of defiance. Mostly, it's fun to see what people were able to get away with back then. If you like cars and driving, then you may enjoy it. ...more
3

Feb 02, 2013

Like many people my age, I have seen the Cannonball Run movie dozens of times. However, it was only after completing a Cannonball-based rally event, and only after it was recommended to me by another participant, that I even knew this book existed. I was very excited to read this book and, while there is definitely material worth reading, it requires an awful lot of skimming to get through it.

The parts written by Yates were the essential passages for me, while repetitive recollections of each Like many people my age, I have seen the Cannonball Run movie dozens of times. However, it was only after completing a Cannonball-based rally event, and only after it was recommended to me by another participant, that I even knew this book existed. I was very excited to read this book and, while there is definitely material worth reading, it requires an awful lot of skimming to get through it.

The parts written by Yates were the essential passages for me, while repetitive recollections of each race by multiple participants became tiresome after awhile. However, anyone who has experienced a rally race or is contemplating one should definitely read this book. The encounters with law enforcement hit particularly close to home for this reader.

Especially interesting to me was how the movie, while based on several actual events during the final 1979 Cannonball Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Race, devolved into a complete farce that bore little resemblance to the original script Yates was so proud of. While the movie has become a cult classic and one of the highest grossing comedies of all time, I can't help but wonder what the film Yates wanted to make would have looked like.

Definitely recommended to participants of car races or fans of the film - with a caveat about skimming. ...more
5

Dec 20, 2019

Car-guy extraordinaire Brock Yates organized and participated in five Cannonball Runs in the 1970s.

What’s a Cannonball ? it is a race against the clock, but you just may see some of your competitors along the way, from New York City to Los Angeles.

Of course the idea is to -go fast- so it may be likely you would chose a sporty car, like an exotic Ferrari Daytona, or muscly Dodge Challenger, but since law enforcement will not be smiling upon you, you may try the less sleek, but stealthy Car-guy extraordinaire Brock Yates organized and participated in five Cannonball Runs in the 1970s.

What’s a Cannonball ? it is a race against the clock, but you just may see some of your competitors along the way, from New York City to Los Angeles.

Of course the idea is to -go fast- so it may be likely you would chose a sporty car, like an exotic Ferrari Daytona, or muscly Dodge Challenger, but since law enforcement will not be smiling upon you, you may try the less sleek, but stealthy transportation of a Cadillac limousine, pickup truck, or Ambulance.

Just like the race, author Yates organizes and participates in his book; he writes the intro to each chapter, one for each race and then the various other participants contribute a page or two on their perspective of getting lost or arrested or dealing with different parts of their cars not working or falling off.

It reads like a fun magazine article, which parts of it are. Your enjoyment will be based on your interest in the wild side of autos and their drivers, but it is not nuts and bolts of engines etc and there are plenty of fun photos.

————
Yates and the various racers often exclaim what a wild, crazy and outlaw thing they are doing ! I was in my teens and 20s during the 70s and though I was not aware of any Cannonballs going on, like any young man with the urge to drive I had my own goals, which I accomplished with my 2 seat ’68 AMX 343ci, 280hp, Red, complete with white racing stripes, yes a powerful police magnet.

One fine day I drove around all of Lake Erie, with stops in Toronto and Niagara Falls, as my girlfriend and I were too young to stay overnight together. On a solo adventure, I drove to California quickly, but with touristy stops along the way, but then I returned cross-country as fast as I could go, stops only for petrol and there better be a burger doodle nearby. Now I wasn’t doing 130mph (972kph) like some of the folks in Cannonball, but the speed limit was the painful 55mph during some of those years so for me and the possibility of an expensive traffic ticket, doing 75 or 85mph was daring ! Now that I write that, ok maybe it was all wild and crazy, and now over 40 years later, I still own that car.
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3

Dec 26, 2012

A fun tale from another time. As always, the true story will always be better than a dumbed-down Hollywood contrivance.
4

Nov 15, 2009

Sheer fun. Brock's one of the best there is at this kind of writing and he was THERE.
4

Jan 02, 2014

It's a zany tale of an underground race and the cast of characters you'd imagine would risk life, limb, and freedom to participate. I felt as if it could have been condensed a little, but the first half of the book did have me laughing out loud.
3

Oct 22, 2012

It was a pretty decent book. Most of it is recollections of people other than the author, so you'll hear about the same event through many eyes, which can be both tedious and interesting depending on how you look at it. I think it's worth a solid three stars - if you're not interested in the Cannonball road race, don't bother; But if you are, it's worth checking out.
5

Dec 02, 2014

This book is a compilation of essays written by those brave, crazy souls who ran the actual Cannonball Run coast-to-coast races of the 1970s. As such, the writing is uneven and there is a lot of information repeated by different authors. That said, these stories are fascinating no matter how many times you hear them. This book should be required reading for anyone about to partake on an epic road trip across the USA.
3

Jun 10, 2011

I was curious about this book after reading a review in a car mag. Mostly I liked it but some of the detail about 480 cubic engines blah blah is really for extreme petrol heads. I was more interested in the characters that signed up to a series of these crazy "sea to shining sea memorial dashes", what made normally sensible people embark on such a venture as have often thought of something like this myself! Read it with that in mind and you will get some fun out of this book and of course you I was curious about this book after reading a review in a car mag. Mostly I liked it but some of the detail about 480 cubic engines blah blah is really for extreme petrol heads. I was more interested in the characters that signed up to a series of these crazy "sea to shining sea memorial dashes", what made normally sensible people embark on such a venture as have often thought of something like this myself! Read it with that in mind and you will get some fun out of this book and of course you will be looking for the real people behind some of the characters from the movie! ...more
5

Oct 31, 2019

When I first saw Cannonball! by Brock Yates I immediately thought this would be a great book. This book will be about cars and racing which are very intriguing topics. The cover has a picture of a 1971 Dodge Challenger in white with huge lights on the front. Also underneath the title was the words “The World's Greatest Outlaw Road Race”. This triggered something inside of me that said that I need to read this book. I saw it was longer as well which I like because it means there is a lot of When I first saw Cannonball! by Brock Yates I immediately thought this would be a great book. This book will be about cars and racing which are very intriguing topics. The cover has a picture of a 1971 Dodge Challenger in white with huge lights on the front. Also underneath the title was the words “The World's Greatest Outlaw Road Race”. This triggered something inside of me that said that I need to read this book. I saw it was longer as well which I like because it means there is a lot of details. There was also pictures in the middle of the book which are very cool because you can see if the way you pictured things in your head are actually like the real world. With the book being about cars and racing it reads differently than a normal book. First it’s nonfiction, which makes you take everything you read and you can put it in a real life scenario. Secondly, it makes the book more fun to read because you don’t know is coming on the next page when you are in the midst of reading. The way the book is written also makes it interesting. It’s written from the people who competed in the events point of view. This created an overall good sense of what happened during the race when there wasn’t anyone out there actually monitoring it. As a reader you felt connected the narrator as they told their unique story. The book has met the expectations I had for it in the beginning and exceeded them greatly. The amount of detail that I thought it would have was there but in some places even that was surpassed. I did a little side research when I was reading and found out some fun facts about some of the cars that were involved in the book that you wouldn’t even know if you read the book. After the first part of the book I think that they will have another race the year after this one because of what a good time the narrators had during their time competing.
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4

Sep 16, 2010

Many people do not realize that the horrible movie "The Cannonball Run" was actually based on a real-life series of cross-country races known, tongue-in-cheek, as the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Tropy Dash. The race was organized by respected automotive journalist Brock Yates and was held four times during the 1970s. The premise of the race was, simply, to see who could get from New York, NY to Long Beach, CA the quickest.

In addition to being sporting fun for motoring Many people do not realize that the horrible movie "The Cannonball Run" was actually based on a real-life series of cross-country races known, tongue-in-cheek, as the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Tropy Dash. The race was organized by respected automotive journalist Brock Yates and was held four times during the 1970s. The premise of the race was, simply, to see who could get from New York, NY to Long Beach, CA the quickest.

In addition to being sporting fun for motoring enthusiasts, the Cannonball was intended to demonstrate that competent drivers could travel safely and efficiently across the interstate highway system at speeds far exceeding the then-55-mph speed limit. While the races were invitation-only, the teams could field as many co-drivers as they wanted, in whatever type of vehicle they felt was appropriate. Everything from motorcycles to pickup trucks to Ferraris to Cadillacs to motor homes (and, yes, an ambulance) participated.

Yates recounts each race's major events in this book, with the help of many of the key players who made the Cannonballs so memorable. Included are tales of mechanical breakdowns, MANY run-ins with law enforcement, struggles with the weather, and engineering ideas gone awry. Above all, it contains a colorful cast of real-life characters far more interesting than Burt Reynolds and his buddies, who somehow managed to mug their way through an entire film with absolutely no appreciation for the true story behind the script.

This book captures the free-wheeling, anti-establishmentarian feeling of the 1970s quite well. It is also a sad reminder of an era that has been lost - such a race could never take place in today's litigious society. It is a must-read for any car enthusiast who has ever wondered, "How fast COULD I drive across the United States, and how would I do it?" ...more
2

Jun 08, 2014

Cannonball: World’s Greatest Outlaw Road Race
Author: Brock Yates
Publisher: MBI Publishing Company
Published In: St. Paul, MN, USA
Date: 2002
Pgs: 281

REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Summary:
The Cannonball Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, a coast-to-coast, New York to California road race. Movies were made. Stories were told. It actually happened, 4 times in the 1970s. In the days of the death of the American muscle car, when CAFE standards, corporate average fuel economy, were limiting the Cannonball: World’s Greatest Outlaw Road Race
Author: Brock Yates
Publisher: MBI Publishing Company
Published In: St. Paul, MN, USA
Date: 2002
Pgs: 281

REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Summary:
The Cannonball Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, a coast-to-coast, New York to California road race. Movies were made. Stories were told. It actually happened, 4 times in the 1970s. In the days of the death of the American muscle car, when CAFE standards, corporate average fuel economy, were limiting the emissions and power of cars on American roads, these outlaws, inlaws, protesters, and proud Americans went on an odyssey across America. The idea being that well trained drivers could control their vehicles safely at necessary speeds and safely cross America, that there was no reason that the American Interstate System couldn’t stand alongside the German Autobahn. These are the stories of the drivers and the drive told in the words of the folks who actually drove the race.

Genre:
Adventure
Autobiography and memoir
Behind the Scenes
Biography
Film
History
Non-fiction
Society
Sport and leisure

Why this book:
I loved those movies. And the idea of reading the true stories of the actual races appealed to me.

This Story is About:
courage, working hard, doing the right thing, greed, friends, jealousy, love, caring, happiness, sadness, family


Story title is short story collection:
Favorite Character:
Brock Yates, the head outlaw in charge.

Least Favorite Character:
Shame that Robert Redford’s schedule wouldn’t let him do that initial run.

Character I Most Identified With:
Couldn’t find a character here that I really identified with. I see characters here that I recognize as archetypes that I’ve known all my life.

The Feel:
The book is on heavy magazine paper which is sorta cool. Gives it a different feel...even though that’s not the feel that I usually refer to in this section.

I wish this would have been more story and less recollection. I wanted this to be something that it wasn’t going to be. I liked it. But...just pipe dreaming.

Favorite Scene:
The realization that that wing they put on top of the van they made the initial run in was looking cool, but that was all it was good for as it ate mph and extra gallons of fuel.

One of the teams showing up dressed as priests as their Highway Patrol camouflage for the race. And The Right Bra Racing Team...obviously from their team picture, not wearing the aforementioned article of clothing.

The ambulance run.

The bra less Right Bra Team.

Pacing:
The pace is slow. To be expected in a book that isn’t really a story, but rather the recollections of people who took part in the various runnings of the Cannonball.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:


Hmm Moments:
The comment that was made after the 2nd Cannonball rings essentially true for me.
...We have maintained for a long time that a competent driver, in a good handling and braking car, is safer at 100 mph than an ill-handling, ill-braking hulk with a petrified driver at 50.

Makes me sad that so many of those who ran in these coast-to-coast rallys looking back on them from today’s perspective seem to be ashamed of it. I’d wear it like a badge of honor. Just makes me sad.

Reading about Yates hopes for the Cannonball Run movie and the way things turned out is sad.

Why isn’t there a screenplay?
There were a couple movies made from the bones of the Cannonball. None of them caught what Yates was looking for.

Casting call:
It’s a shame that the Cannonball movie with Paul Newman didn’t get made. That could have been awesome. No doubt, that movie would have held closer to Yates vision.



Last Page Sound:
Well...

Author Assessment:
It’s a decent read. I might like to peek at some of Yates other stuff just to see what his style is like on other subject matter.

Editorial Assessment:
Fine.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
it’s alright

Disposition of Book:
Library

Would recommend to:
genre fans
...more
5

Jul 05, 2017

I fell in love with Yates's writing when I was a young teenager. His columns in Car & Driver were priceless (if you remember the piece "It's not a Dodge, it's a Polara", you're a full fledged student of Yates.), and the road test articles he penned were unequalled. My distaste and distrust of the over-reaching, scolding nanny state were fueled by his pen. My love for the freedom of and joy that can be found by experiencing the open highways and broad vistas of Canada and the USA were I fell in love with Yates's writing when I was a young teenager. His columns in Car & Driver were priceless (if you remember the piece "It's not a Dodge, it's a Polara", you're a full fledged student of Yates.), and the road test articles he penned were unequalled. My distaste and distrust of the over-reaching, scolding nanny state were fueled by his pen. My love for the freedom of and joy that can be found by experiencing the open highways and broad vistas of Canada and the USA were fostered by his words.
The Cannonball Baker Dash was chronicled in C&D, and reading this book brought back great memories of running down to the drugstore to see if the latest copy of the car mags had come in yet, and how the writing in C&D was so far above the other car mags I devoured monthly. Great stories in this book. RIP Brock Yates, the greatest American writer of our generation. ...more
2

Jun 03, 2019

Less of a book and more a collection of vignettes from drivers in the Cannonball races. As a somewhat reformed auto enthusiast, the background of the events was interesting, but didn’t really fill out an entire book. Alex Roy’s “The Driver: My Dangerous Pursuit of Speed and Truth in the Outlaw Racing World” was much better written and entertaining.
5

Aug 04, 2018

Why cannot I be 40 in the '70s?! The race that inspired the movie is detailed here. Nearly every racer has a mirror in the movie. Imagine doing 80+ across I-80 with a F-1 driver. That's the first cannonball race. Christ, I would love to do this but in this environment we cannot. Sad face :(

Seriously, read this book if you can find it.
5

Nov 08, 2019

An interesting look in a unique piece of American motorsport history.
3

Feb 18, 2016

The Cannonball is the cross-country "The Only Rule Is There Are No Rules" road race. This book tells the story of the race first-hand, with descriptions by the people the created and participated in it.

I'm pretty fascinated by the race, and by the more recent attempts inspired by it. I was looking forward to reading the details, and started off enjoying the book: Brock Yates's attitude might be a little bit arrogant, but it can also be fun to read. But, after reading about a third of the book, The Cannonball is the cross-country "The Only Rule Is There Are No Rules" road race. This book tells the story of the race first-hand, with descriptions by the people the created and participated in it.

I'm pretty fascinated by the race, and by the more recent attempts inspired by it. I was looking forward to reading the details, and started off enjoying the book: Brock Yates's attitude might be a little bit arrogant, but it can also be fun to read. But, after reading about a third of the book, all of the different stories started to get repetitive.

Maybe there's just not that much to tell: many of the descriptions of running the race included sections of going through multiple states with virtually no distinctive events. Overall, I'm glad I read this book, I just wish it was tightened up. ...more
3

Jan 09, 2008

Brock lets his friends do the writing for him. I am into road racing, so I was hooked before I opened the book. However, I tired of it after reading so many accounts of essentially the same thing. If you are intrigued, check it out from the library and when you start to lose interest, return it. You won't miss anything by not making it to the end. (Sorry, Dave R.)
5

Jan 20, 2016

Engaging tales of the actual races across the United States in the 1970's that were to protest the federal mandated 55 MPH speed limits. Insightful, fun.
4

Nov 11, 2013

As a car guy and a fan of the madcap 80s movie, this was a blast to read. Makes me want to crank up the big V8 and go blasting across America's roadways.
0

Oct 24, 2008

Started out interesting but quickly lost interest. I want to do my own cannonball race from North Carolina to California (or maybe Florida to Alaska). Don't think I'll finish this one...

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