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Insider Report: What old people do for fun

Published January 24, 2013

As you are reading this, I am making the long drive down to Daytona Beach in Florida to cover the Rolex 24 at Daytona. In order to get today’s Insider together, I’ve been scouring the net for days for fun road trip type videos for you. I came across this old one that I haven’t seen in years that just seemed perfect to share while I am tripping down I-95. This is something I could see Mrs. Grant and I doing when we are old!

Cross country time lapse video

Given that I’m about to hit the road, I found this video by American filmmaker Brian Defrees to be rather inspirational. Defrees decided to be the first one to create a “drivelapse video” that chronicled a cross country road trip. In August, 2011, Defrees set out for a two-month trip. Upon his return, he condensed the whole thing into a five minute short. Pretty neat stuff!

A sleepy road trip prank

This is an old YouTube video and yet I have never seen it, so I thought I would pass it along. Falling into the “Who needs enemies” category, this poor sod has dozed off on the way home from a stag party road trip. His buddies had different ideas. I’m hoping that the guy got some revenge!

32 Hours 7 Minutes

I have been sitting on this one for a while, as I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it due to some legal wrangling that is going on south of the border. Some of the key players in the legal battles are good friends and I didn’t want to add any negativity to this story, but it is such an important glimpse into road tripping history that I think the time has come for me to share.

Just about everyone, car enthusiast or not, is aware of the movies Gumball Rally and the Cannonball Run. What many may not be aware of is that these somewhat silly flicks were based in reality and many of the characters were loosely based on real people.

Originally conceived by auto writer Brock Yates, the Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash became the stuff of legends. Competitors left a parking garage in New York City, hauled butt across the continent, finally ending up at the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach. It was supposed to be a protest of the nation’s 55 mph speed limit, but the reality is that it was a competition and those involved had a fun time. Arguably, the highest profile running of the Cannonball was in 1972, when the “winners” were Yates and non-other than racing legend Dan Gurney in a blue Ferrari Daytona. They covered 2,863 Miles (4,608 km) in just 35 hours and 54 minutes at an average speed of 80 mph (130 km/h). Smart guy Gurney said after the race: “At no time did we exceed 175 mph.”

The list of competitors reads like a who’s who of the automotive world. Pete Brock. Anatoly Arutunof. John Buffum. Donna Mae Mims. Hal Needham. Even Canadian racer, Uncle Jacques Villeneuve had a go in 1979.

The original Cannonball was shut down in 1979, only to be revived by other players as the U.S. Express in 1981. In ’83, a record time of 32 hours and 7 minutes was set, a record which many people thought could never be broken. Those people didn’t take a guy named Alex Roy into account.

Cross country racing had become an obsession of the New Yorker’s and along the way, he decided that the 32:07 record could indeed be beaten. During the planning stages for the record run, Roy met an equally obsessed film maker, Cory Wells. A close family friend of Wells played a big part in the U.S. Express and she wanted to not only report the history, but also the history in the making. Wells rode along in the car with Roy and his drive partner, Dave Maher, as they made their mark on road tripping history. They made the trip in an astounding 31 hours, 4 minutes.

Unfortunately, as things sometimes happen, the relationship between Roy, who as executive producer, spent somewhere north of $800.000 USD on the project and Wells, went south and the film went unreleased. Until that is, that Roy initiated legal proceedings against Wells’ company. Then, release announcement appeared in many people’s inboxes. Roy was not informed of the release, nor did he give his seal of approval on the final edit.

I received a review copy of the flick from Wells, and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. As a teen, I read and re-read Yates book Sunday Driver, where he recounts the early days of Cannonball, but I never really learned much about the U.S. Express. 32 Hours 7 Minutes offers a rare glimpse into the underground world that is cross country racing. I am just sad that the final version that Roy envisioned has not yet seen the light of day. Hopefully one day, the edit that he approves of will see the light of day.

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