They drove from NYC to LA in 27.5 hours at an average speed of 103 mph, but had to slow down in Eagle County
Setting a Cannonball record is no easy feat, especially when you have to cross through Eagle County.
27.5 hours of traveling at the average speed of 103 mph between New York City and Los Angeles, with only 22 minutes of total break time, is how Arne Toman, Doug Tabbutt and Berkeley Chadwick raised the bar in this half-century-old tradition celebrated by auto enthusiasts with a need for speed.
Before starting their journey on November 10, the trio had all the preparations in place: Their 2015 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sedan had a custom fuel cell in the trunk, a radar detector, a thermal radar scope, scanner, and more. They also had spotters along the way to help make sure they didn’t have any run-ins with the law.
But despite all that, the crew found themselves slowing down in Eagle County, to pass an Eagle County Sheriff’s vehicle, and take this photo:
“Eagle County CO was our slowest leg of the entire trip – we had the privilege of being escorted through there by an Eagle County Sheriff at a leisurely 55mph,” Tabbutt recalls. “I was not driving so I took the occasion to get my only sleep of the whole run.”
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How illegal is this?
Very. There is no Autobahn in the United States — we are a country of speed limits that vary county-to-county. The highly illegal nature of setting a cross-country land speed record is the main reason why the Cannonball obsession is considered a “subculture” rather than a mainstream concept (even though a 1981 film starring Burt Reynolds and Farrah Fawcett proves the Cannonball’s popularity is more than just a niche subject).
When it comes to documentation, ambiguity makes all the publicity possible; the three men were careful not to release any incriminating video or photos. For example, in the above photo, you do not know who is driving or at what speed they were traveling at that time; they very well could have kept things legal all throughout Eagle County, for all we know.
Nonetheless, the Vail Daily was able to confirm with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office that the pictured patrol vehicle indeed belongs to Eagle County. And that, in combination with clues from their videos, is about all the evidence we can muster.
It’s also worth noting that there has never been a single fatality or serious injury linked to the Cannonball’s half-century history, according to Road & Track. Cannonball drivers pride themselves on being highly-focused and prepared for the varying conditions in every state they cross, keeping things as safe as they possibly can while traveling at triple-digit speeds.
One thing in Colorado they didn’t plan for
Law enforcement aside, another Colorado element slowed their journey.
Altitude, in combination with a lower-octane fuel, created a breakdown situation, which their YouTube video suggests may have been shortly after passing Officer’s Gulch, heading west. Surprised and extremely worried once their car started “bucking uncontrollably and losing power,” the men temporarily felt a sinking sense of defeat.
They pulled off to an undisclosed exit and turned the car off for a moment. To their luck, the car fired back up without issue, and they continued along their way.
Not much longer after that (as in, much quicker than anyone could estimate), the three men pulled into their final destination in Redondo Beach, California, with a total trip time of 27 hours and 25 minutes.