This 5-star rating is, admittedly, for true fans of this
sort of adventure, but for anyone who has ever wanted to
drive significantly over the posted speed limit for awhile,
or those who might have actually done so, this is a "must."
Brock Yates, the author, was one of the originators of the
real Cannonball Run, and he participated in all the genuine
runs, that took place from NYC to Calif, when the idea was to
see which team of drivers could make the quickest trip. The
rules at that time were, well, no rules. If that doesn't sound
like fun, then this book won't seem very exciting.
The idea at the time, when the speed limit was set at a federal
level of 55 mph, making it one of the most ignored laws in our
history, was for some guys (and gals) to get together and
bring whatever motor vehicle they wanted and try racing to
the other coast. Ethics? Rules? If you could get away with
it, it was permitted in these Cannonball runs.
Some of the funniest stories are about the various ideas of
subterfuge, to either avoid detection, or, if caught, to avoid
legal penalty, employed by all contestants.
Before various aspects of the law came down on the race, it was
run for several years, and they all had to be fun.
Yates knows all the stories, and he verifies the truthfulness
of the more wild ones, and no one has more knowledge of these
events than he does, and he seems to remember them all.
As he points out, there were some other, later, "copycat" runs,
but they were weak images of the originals, even when he had
something to do with them.
He also points out the futility of such runs today, with the
much heavier emphasis on speed enforcement--mainly as a revenue
producing action--and better technology and communicaton available to the police. In addition, and worse yet, he explains just how much more crowded our highways are, even the
interstates, these days, and how difficult it is to make any
real speed in any circumstance anywhere. "Wide open spaces"
have just about disappeared from the driving landscape, so we
can lament, with Yates, the lost freedoms of real fun driving.
Several other participants also contribute pieces on their
involvement, so the other perspective is interesting.
Yates was also involved in the filming of "Cannonball Run," and
you can feel his sadness as he recounts how his original idea
was lost as Hollywood "stars" took it over; the director brought
in his girl friend, and Reynolds insisted on several of his friends being included, and Yates was forced to continually
re-write the script to accomodate those personal wants, so
some actors were brought in who were not interested in the
story and who detracted from the finished product. This writer's insights into how the Hollywood world works, and the
forces that shape a film, sometimes contrary to a good story or
a good movie, are worth the price of this book by themselves.
The original Yates idea, sold to Hollywood, was to mirror the
actual event, which was funny and exciting in its own right,
and it was to have starred Steve McQueen, a genuine car guy whose power and intensity would have helped turn the orignal
script into a powerhouse movie. But, sadly on all counts, McQueen developed cancer, and he had to drop the project. It was all downhill from then on, and you can't help but feel for
Yates as he is, on the spot, forced to keep revising his script
for the benefit of those who didn't care about the original story or its impact.
As said, there are some amazing and fun stories here, and
no one knows them better than Yates, and he is one of the
preeminent auto writers today, so you need to get this one
if you have any interest in autos, and if you have ever dreamed
of a very fast road trip.