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on 19 February 2004
The Cannonball - "coast to shining coast". A reaction to the Energy Crisis? To the 55 mph speed limit? Or just to the gradual regulation of the roads in America?
Doesn't matter. Cannonball was a free-for-all - run-what-you-brung across the USA. Not very legal. Not very regulated, and a true celebration of American individualism. Car freaks, racing drivers, journalists, celebrities, and wannabe heroes in a wild assortment of machinery raced each other and the law across the USA. Brock Yates was one of the men behind these happenings, and he's gathered together the stories of many of the participants.
It doesn't really add up as a coherent book, but as a collection of anecdotes, and a much better story than the dismal "comedies" based on the Cannonball, this is a cracking little read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 September 2010
The book is Brock Yates' summary of the original Cannonball races from 1971 to 1979. It starts with the trial / scouting run in early 1971 and then has both the authors' description, as well as those of various participants for all four races - 1971, 1972, 1975 and 1979, to finish with some comments on the later movies of the event (but no comment on the events it inspired, such as the Gumball 3000).

Initially there seemed to be several objectives to the run, such as proving that the (then still in construction) Interstate network allows for high speed transcontinental transport, that a well driven, well engineered car can safely be operated at speeds higher than the limits, as a protest against reducing driving and car design to the lowest common denominator, etc. Whether you consider those to be legitimate will very much depend on where you stand regarding those topics (or in other words, if you are Balint's ocnophile or philobat) but these have been themes Yates has followed throughout the career. As for the events themselves, they were from an earlier time and the author is right to point out that they are hardly feasible or defensible in today's world (Alex Roy had to do his record beating Coast to Shining Coast solo and could only publish the results a year later to avoid prosecution (The Driver: My Dangerous Pursuit of Speed and Truth in the Outlaw Racing World)).

Having many people contribute to the book might give it a more authentic feel but there are several downsides as well - first of all, lots of material is repeated in the accounts of various people, not all of them have a writing talent to match their driving talent and the book does not give as much insight into what is really required for doing a caper like that (again I find Alex Roy's book better in this respect). The impression from this book is 'you get yourself a ride, tune it a bit, hop in and off you go'. While this was possibly feasible in the 70s (the author obliquely points out that even then much more preparation was necessary but noone speaks of it in any depth), it might be a bit dangerous if read by a rash and inexperienced youth with wheels today.

As a reflection of the times, the spirit (also of the then Car and Driver magazine) I can definitely recommend the book; also as an account, how with time the priorities, perceptions and attitudes to the event (even by some of the participants themselves) kept changing.

Not read Sunday Driver: The Writer Meets the Road at 175 MPH yet (it was a more timely book, with accounts of the Cannonball races, too) - it might be more authentic, not having been written 30 years after the first event (even if some ofthe articles in this book are from the mags back then).
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on 11 November 2015
I had wanted to read this book for a very long time, so was quite pleased when I eventually purchased it. It sadly wasnt as good as I expected. It seems to cover more of the statistics and details as to who finished in which positions etc rather than a lot of the racing. I was expecting more tales and stories - possibly as a result of loving the Cannonball & Gumball Rally type movies. It does cover some of that stuff though, and what I found really surprising was that the characters in the Cannonball Run films were actually based on real characters and experiences in the races. I knew some of the stuff was, such as the Ambulance etc, but didnt realize some of the stories in the film actually happened.

Still, id recommend reading it for any fans of this sort of road racing as these guys were the ones who started it. Id also recommend a book called "The Driver" by Alex Roy.
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on 29 January 2013
I love all things to do with outlaw races, especially those back when limited comms and resources made the life of the average traffic cop more difficult. Those were the days when stories were made. Populations were smaller and people could race from coast to coast in relative safety. Not so these days with the roads so crammed full of slow moving traffic piloted by such incompetent drivers.

This is THE story of THE road race told by THE organiser. THIS is history.
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on 25 September 2008
This is a pretty good story of the Cannonball races from the 1970s with a number of different people providing comments on specific races.

It is a very easy read and certainly one for the petrol heads.

I watched the awful film again after reading the book and wished I hadn't
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on 9 January 2016
Tells the true stories of the organized races across the United States in the 1970's that were organized somewhat in an effort to sho0w that the 55MPH speed limits that were imposed for safety were not as needed as was suggested. Engaging and insightful. Fun!
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on 19 February 2015
Good book giving a great insight into the pioneering event.
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