How the Cannonball Run Worked


Announcer

Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from HowStuffWorks.com.

Josh Clark

Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. With me as always is our good friend Charles W. Chuck Bryant. How are you Chuck?

Chuck Bryant

Thank you, good friend.

Josh Clark

How are you feeling right now?

Chuck Bryant

I'm fine. I'm a little hot. I'm schvitzing.

Josh Clark

Yeah, Chuck is bright red right now, everybody. It's kind of weird looking.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, thank you, Martin [beep] for that. Our super fan in Seattle! Thank you very much. He's not a super fan. He's a buddy.

Josh Clark

He has be - he was such a fan that he actually became a friend.

Chuck Bryant

He's a friend that we haven't met yet.

Josh Clark

Yeah, so Chuck, take us back to 1981, man.

Chuck Bryant

In the time machine.

Josh Clark

Yes, the way back machine. You ready? Here we go. Okay.

Chuck Bryant

All right, John, I'm ten years old. Knee high to a grasshopper! Disco is dead. Margaret Thatcher is the prime minister of England.

Josh Clark

I take issue with the disco being dead line. I don't know that disco ever died, man. You can make the argument that all modern R&B, pop, soul is all disco.

Chuck Bryant

Disco was alive. Margaret Thatcher was the prime minister of England. Ronald Regan was in office just as Jimmy Carter has exited. Walter Cronkite resigned from the CBS Evening News desk.

Josh Clark

That was a sad day.

Chuck Bryant

The first AIDS case was made public in California.

Josh Clark

Have you ever seen And the Band Played On?

Chuck Bryant

My brother worked on that.

Josh Clark

That was a great made for TV movie.

Chuck Bryant

It really was.

Josh Clark

It was really good.

Chuck Bryant

And he had a great experience working on that. Some really fine people in that movie. Major league baseball has just gone on strike in the summer.

Josh Clark

For what will be the first of 80 times over the next five years.

Chuck Bryant

Right, so America is depressed, but not for long.

Josh Clark

No because one Mr. Burt Reynolds is about to dash across the silver screen.

Chuck Bryant

That's right.

Josh Clark

In a little movie called Cannonball Run.

Chuck Bryant

Great, great, great movie.

Josh Clark

It was a great movie. I haven't seen it in forever. I think I probably saw it in like 1987. It was one of the first movies we rented along with Beverly Hills Cop.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, yeah. Very hokey and corny, but still beloved!

Josh Clark

What's - yeah, everyone takes it as a comedy because it is a comedy.

Chuck Bryant

Clearly.

Josh Clark

But this is not to say that it started out as a comedy, actually. It was supposed to be serious, and Burt Reynolds' part was originally written for Steve McQueen who died before he could film the movie.

Chuck Bryant

Sadly.

Josh Clark

It was supposed to be a serious movie, and it didn't turn out that way. Why would anybody want a Cannonball Run to be a serious movie?

Chuck Bryant

Well because it was in fact based on a real race.

Josh Clark

What?

Chuck Bryant

True. Based on a real race, as you know!

Josh Clark

Yeah, I do know after reading this article. I think I had heard that before, but I had no idea the details.

Chuck Bryant

I didn't either until I wrote it.

Josh Clark

This was really amazing. Like I have - I'm just going to come out and say it. I have a man crush on a 70 year old. Mr. Brock Yates. He is a cool dude who I would have loved to hung out with.

Chuck Bryant

He is. I bet he's still a very cool dude.

Josh Clark

And hung out with in a strictly platonic sense.

Chuck Bryant

Sure. Maybe a little making out, but aside from that! Yeah, I bet he's still a way cool guy. I get that impression.

Josh Clark

He is. He - this is kind of what I gathered about Brock Yates from researching this and reading your article.

Chuck Bryant

Go ahead and say who he is.

Josh Clark

He was a - pretty much the premiere automotive journalist of his age of the late '60s, early '70s.

Chuck Bryant

Editor of Car and Driver Magazine.

Josh Clark

Eventually, yeah. But I think he started out as a journalist. And something of a gonzo journalist I take it.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

But yeah, he was very well known and respected in the field, and in the early 1970s, America was at a fork in the road, if you will.

Chuck Bryant

So to speak.

Josh Clark

And Brock Yates represented one direction, and that was the [beep] out, just go and if you die, that was your number was up kind of mentality.

Chuck Bryant

Behind the wheel, that is.

Josh Clark

Yeah. You know, damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead! Right? On the other side of the road, on the other side of the fork was a guy named Ralph Nader who was -

Chuck Bryant

He's still there on that other fork.

Josh Clark

He is. For those of you who don't know who Ralph Nader is, he's run for president a couple of times. He got George Bush elected in 2004.

Chuck Bryant

Thanks for that, Ralph.

Josh Clark

Yeah. But he's also a very dedicated consumer watch dog. He has, for many years, lived in a tiny little one room apartment. He uses a hot plate.

Chuck Bryant

Does he really?

Josh Clark

He lives this very meager life so no one can say, "You're corrupt," because he goes after everybody else. And then the 1970s, in the early 1970s, he was going after the automotive industry. He wrote this book called Unsafe at Any Speed.

Chuck Bryant

Great book.

Josh Clark

Have you read it?

Chuck Bryant

I've read parts of it through researching stuff. Yeah.

Josh Clark

So you know then it was basically about how the automotive industry was producing these incredibly dangerous vehicles.

Chuck Bryant

Right, death machines.

Josh Clark

Right, and at the time, we didn't really have much of a speed limit.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

So as a result of his book, seatbelts became mandatory, new safety designs had to be instituted by car manufacturers. This is a big deal. So America is at this fork in the road. Brock Yates down one and Ralph Nader on the other! And America went down the Ralph Nader fork, path.

Chuck Bryant

Right, I think what you're referring to is the national speed limit.

Josh Clark

That's part of it, definitely, but I think even more than that, it's more of a - you know the way you and I were raised where we could do anything we put our minds to, and we were special. I think that that came out of that collective decision to go towards safety rather than fun at any cost.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, reckless abandon.

Josh Clark

Exactly.

Chuck Bryant

Devil may care.

Josh Clark

Sure. But the national speed limit was definitely one part of that.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, that was 55 miles an hour, which was -

Josh Clark

In 1974.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. That has since gone up quite a bit in certain areas, of course.

Josh Clark

It has. But even more than safety, do you know why set the speed limit at 55?

Chuck Bryant

Gas consumption?

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

Yeah, the air - oil embargo had just taken place. OPEC was like, "Hey, US, we're not real happy with you for siding with Israel during the Yom Kippur war, so we're going to cut off your oil," and they did. And prices spiked, and the US said, "Okay, we need to rethink our dependence on foreign oil." It had a huge rippling effect, but one of them was setting the speed limit at 55 miles per hour.

Chuck Bryant

Which is too slow?

Josh Clark

It is too slow, especially with the opinion of somebody like Brock Yates.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, I thought you were going to say Sammy Hagar.

Josh Clark

He can't drive 55.

Chuck Bryant

He can't. He's tried.

Josh Clark

He has. He's made a concerted effort, but it didn't pan out. He tried.

Chuck Bryant

I love that that song, it wasn't I don't like to drive 55, or I would prefer to drive faster. It was I can't drive 55. I've tried, and it just doesn't happen.

Josh Clark

It was very explicit. So Chuck, this was 1974. In 1971, Brock Yates saw the writing on the wall. The speed limit was going to be reduced. America was becoming something of a -

Chuck Bryant

Mamby pamby.

Josh Clark

Yes. And what did he do as a result?

Chuck Bryant

In 1971, he took a trip across the country in a Dodge van with three travel mates. And he drove from New York to Los Angeles as a way of proving/protesting. I believe his quote said something like this. Good drivers and good automobiles could employ the American interstate system the same way that the Germans were using their autobahn. So he wanted to prove that you can drive fast if you're safe, if you're a good drive, and get to Point A to Point B in a car, and it's safe.

Josh Clark

Yeah, and you said reckless abandon. There was definitely a certain level of professionalism or the people who he considered good drivers were actual good drivers. Like you had to be a good driver to drive fast in his opinion! It wasn't just like, "Everybody go as fast as you can." That wasn't the point.

Chuck Bryant

So he did so. He drive 2,858 miles from New York to LA in 40 hours and 51 minutes, which is an average of 70 miles per hour, which is pretty fast if you're talking about an average speed.

Josh Clark

Yeah because that included stops, I think.

Chuck Bryant

Stops, you name it.

Josh Clark

Right. So after that happened, I think it got a little bit of publicity by word of mouth.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, very little.

Josh Clark

Maybe the racing world. And there was a famous telegram that came, I guess, a month or so later.

Chuck Bryant

I love this.

Josh Clark

Can I read it?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, yeah.

Josh Clark

It says this constitutes formal entry by the Polish Racing Drivers of America in the next official Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. The drivers are Oscar Coaleski, Brad Numancheck, and Tony Adamawicks. If we can find California, we'll beat you fair and square.

Chuck Bryant

So basically, the gauntlet was laid, and the Cannonball Run was born. Although like you said, the official name has always been Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash.

Josh Clark

Right, so who is Cannonball Baker.

Chuck Bryant

Cannonball Baker, Irwin G. Cannonball Baker was a - he was famous for pushing the limits on a motorcycle. So he would drive from Canada to Mexico, from New York to LA on an old Indian motorcycle, and we're talking starting in 1914.

Josh Clark

Right, so like the old Indian motorcycle was basically a bike with a motor. That's exactly what it looks like.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

He actually had a pretty well deserved reputation for his nickname and just the stuff he was doing.

Chuck Bryant

His endurance level.

Josh Clark

Uh huh. Apparently on one ride, he came around the curve and was about to barrel into a herd of cattle that was in the middle of the road because it's 1914. And he swerved to miss them, hit a pothole, flew off of his bike onto the back of a cow, which bucked him off, and he eventually landed in a ditch.

Chuck Bryant

Are you kidding me? Wow.

Josh Clark

Got up and drove away.

Chuck Bryant

Wow that is the stuff of legends. That's how you get a race named after you, my friend.

Josh Clark

Exactly.

Chuck Bryant

And he went on to become the first commissioner of NASCAR, which I thought was pretty interesting. So there you have that.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Nothing to do with moonshine, though. Or did he?

Josh Clark

I don't know. Maybe!

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, curious. So yeah, Yates wanted to pay homage to Cannonball Baker, so he named it after him, although he did shorten the name. Cannonball was two words for Baker, but he shortened it to Cannonball to avoid a legal mess.

Josh Clark

Lawyers advised him to do that.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, I thought it was kind of weird.

Josh Clark

Anyway, so you have the cannonball, originally called the Cannonball Dash. And then it finally became the Cannonball Run, which is how we know it today. Right?

Chuck Bryant

And thanks to the Polish Drivers of America who laid down the gauntlet, it was a real thing.

Josh Clark

They did. And they weren't the only ones to participate in the first official cannonball. That first run he made in the van was considered like a preliminary test run. It wasn't the first cannonball because there was nobody competing with him. So the second one, there was the Polish Racing Drivers of America and seven other groups including three vans. There was a huge motor home. There was an American motors AMX and MGBGT and a Cadillac Sedan Deville, and this was probably the coolest part of this entire story.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, I love it.

Josh Clark

Tell them.

Chuck Bryant

This Cadillac was owned by an old gentleman in New York.

Josh Clark

In Boston.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, in Boston. And he wanted to - and this happened back then. It may still happen now where you would contract someone to drive your car from one place to the other because you can't get it there.

Josh Clark

Richard Pryor contracted Dana Carvey in Moving.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

Great movie.

Chuck Bryant

I didn't see that one. I thought it was a stinker.

Josh Clark

No, it was good.

Chuck Bryant

Was it good?

Josh Clark

Uh huh.

Chuck Bryant

So this old man put out an ad in the paper, and I need to get my car to Los Angeles. And these guys answered it and said, "We'll get your car to Los Angeles." And unbeknownst to him, it was one of the entries, and I think one of the stipulations was the car not be driven faster than 75 miles per hour any time.

Josh Clark

Or in the dark.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, was that the other one?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

And clearly, they broke both of these because the Cadillac averaged 79 miles per hour, which means they were driving a heck of a lot faster than that.

Josh Clark

I think they came in third, too.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, third place.

Josh Clark

Yeah, not too bad.

Chuck Bryant

But I think they got the car there in one piece safely. So good for them!

Josh Clark

Right, they're like, "Here are the keys, pal."

Chuck Bryant

So go ahead and start with the first race. Where did it start? Where did it end?

Josh Clark

Well, it started in New York at the Redball Garage at midnight, I believe, is when all of them started.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

And this, what, 1971?

Chuck Bryant

Uh huh.

Josh Clark

Okay. November 15, I believe. And the ending place was at a hotel in Redondo Beach.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

What is it?

Chuck Bryant

The Portofino Inn.

Josh Clark

Right, okay, which is - from pictures I saw was a pretty lux little hotel.

Chuck Bryant

I think so.

Josh Clark

And you didn't have to follow any specific route. You just got there any way you could.

Chuck Bryant

Right. Basically, the only rules were you could have as many drivers as long as it was only one car, and you could leave at any point within the 24 hour window. It wasn't like everyone started at the start line like a typical race. Just like in the movie, you would punch a time clock from when your starting time was and then punch it again for when you arrived, and whoever won, won. And I believe there was no trophy at the time. It was only a $50.00 entry fee, and then they donated 200 a piece to charity.

Josh Clark

I thought that was pretty cool.

Chuck Bryant

Sure, why not?

Josh Clark

So apparently, two days before the race, Brock Yates had managed to finagle a Ferrari Daytona, a brand new Ferrari Daytona.

Chuck Bryant

A loaner.

Josh Clark

Out of an auto dealer, and he had the car, but he only had himself. He didn't have a copilot or a driver, and apparently, he sent out all these invitations, and a lot of - to racecar drivers, like legitimate racecar drivers, and they were like, "You know, if somebody dies or something, this is going to look really bad for the sport of racing, and I don't want to do that." Then one guy he had invited, Dan Gurney, who was a professional racecar driver, had declined initially. But he apparently was told by his wife that his dying father in law said, "You should go do this. Life is short."So Gurney contacts Yates the day before the race and says, "Hey, can I still come?" And Yates said, "Heck yeah."

Chuck Bryant

And that proved to be fortuitous because they won the first Cannonball Run.

Josh Clark

Yeah, they did.

Chuck Bryant

Their winning time, Josh, was 35 hours and 54 minutes cross country.

Josh Clark

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Chuck Bryant

And not Atlanta to LA. New York to LA, which is further! Because I've made it in 33 hours from Atlanta to LA!

Josh Clark

Have you?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, that's the way I've always done it. Three 11 hour days is how I schedule it out.

Josh Clark

I never time myself, but I went and drove around the west for several weeks and lived in a van with the dogs and all that, and I would drive like - I think the longest I drove was a 12 hour stretch.

Chuck Bryant

That's about all I can muster. That's enough for me.

Josh Clark

Yeah, depending on how much coffee I drank or whatever, then I could drive six hours or 12 hours or whatever, but it's amazing the toll of it. Just sitting in a car with your foot on the gas has on you.

Chuck Bryant

Sure. Especially when you're driving that fast! Should we talk about some of the things they prefer to do on the first race?

Josh Clark

Please.

Chuck Bryant

One of the common tactics, it seemed like, was to keep it slow in the eastern seaboard. I think New Jersey and Connecticut and Ohio and Pennsylvania. These states are notorious for having some pretty hardcore highway patrolmen. Still do.

Josh Clark

Yeah, like you'll get pulled over for doing 65.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Isn't that nuts to you?

Chuck Bryant

That is nuts.

Josh Clark

I can't imagine for getting pulled over for anything less than 72, 75. In Georgia, by the way, everyone flies as fast as you can. As fast as you can get away with, that's how fast you drive, generally.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, even my friend Derrick used to say that the deal with Atlanta rush hour is everybody drives as fast as they can until somebody wrecks. And then, there's a big traffic jam.

Josh Clark

And then it just stops.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, it's pretty funny to think about that. So the trick was to kind of keep it slow on the eastern seaboard and in the Midwest, and then once you got to the Great Plains is when you really opened up and made up some serious, serious time.

Josh Clark

Yeah, they got it up to 172, I think, is how fast they found out the Ferrari would go.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, I think 12 speeding tickets total.

Josh Clark

Between all the competitors.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, between four of the competitors. Four of them didn't get a ticket at all. So four of them split 12 tickets, and the famous quote - LA Times did kind of a blurb of an article.

Josh Clark

From Dan Gurney. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, Dan Gurney famously said, "At no time did we exceed 175 miles an hour."

Josh Clark

They came close, though.

Chuck Bryant

Which is pretty cool?

Josh Clark

Yeah. So Chuck, that was the first one, and as with all cool things, that also began its co-option. News got out. Word got out.

Chuck Bryant

Little by little.

Josh Clark

Yeah, that Sports Illustrated covered it. And so did the Los Angeles times. And so when there was a second one, I think the following year there were a lot more competitors. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, they had 25 entries the second year and Brock Yates finished second place this time in a Cadillac. The third race, they skipped a couple years and it was in 1975. And they moved it to spring time this time, and a Ferrari won the third race with Yates and Gurney behind the wheel, once again.

Josh Clark

Oh, I didn't know they won the third one.

Chuck Bryant

Yes. Oh, no, I'm sorry. They beat Yates and Gurney's record time the third year.

Josh Clark

Yeah, by one minute. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, but it was not them. You're correct.

Josh Clark

So by 1975, which is, what, the third one, fourth one?

Chuck Bryant

Third one was in '75.

Josh Clark

Okay, by 1975, it's officially co-opted. There's actually corporate sponsorship. The Right Bra Company placed three ladies in pink in a limousine, and apparently, the driver fell asleep in Texas and rolled the thing, and I guess rolled into a Port-A-Potty, which tipped over and drenched the ladies inside with its contents. Exactly, so by this time now, you can see why Burt Reynolds would have chosen more of a comedic route than a Sharky's Machine route.

Chuck Bryant

Well, it wasn't Burt's choice. Should we move to the final year?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

What happened was Brock Yates was pretty much finished with it. He said, "You know, it's run its course."

Josh Clark

He said he was worried that somebody was going to die now.

Chuck Bryant

Sure, although no one ever got hurt.

Josh Clark

No, but the roads in the last eight years had become much more congested.

Chuck Bryant

Right, he was ready to scrap the whole thing, but he had a friend, director stuntman.

Josh Clark

Hal Needham.

Chuck Bryant

Hal Needham.

Josh Clark

Or is it Needlam?

Chuck Bryant

No, it's Needham. And he was famous for a lot of the early Burt Reynolds movies. He did Hooper, which his a great movie.

Josh Clark

Is it? I haven't seen that one.

Chuck Bryant

Are you kidding me?

Josh Clark

I kid you not.

Chuck Bryant

Dude, you've got to get Hooper. That was the one about stuntmen.

Josh Clark

You have to see My Blue Heaven then.

Chuck Bryant

All right, we'll get to that later. So he did Hooper, and he did the Cannonball Run, and he did a couple of the other Burt Reynolds films of the 80s.

Josh Clark

Yeah, he did Smoky and the Bandit 2. No, Brock Yates wrote that. I'm sorry.

Chuck Bryant

Okay. So Hal Needham -

Josh Clark

We're all over the place today. Aren't we, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant

We are. Hal Needham says, "You know what, Brock? I want to make a movie about the Cannonball Run, and so I think the best way to do this is if we stage another one, and I participate with you as my partner.

Josh Clark

Yeah, and they did.

Chuck Bryant

They did that in 1979, and they had a record 46 entries this time, and a lot of what happened in this race actually ended up in the movie.

Josh Clark

Yeah, there's some zany, madcap stuff that was going on.

Chuck Bryant

Let's hear it.

Josh Clark

Well, Brock Yates and Hal Needham actually had an ambulance and Yates' wife Pamela posed as a woman suffering from a lung condition, and as a result, couldn't fly because of the pressurized cabin, so she had to be zoomed across the country at 100 miles per hour in an ambulance. That was their vehicle of choice.

Chuck Bryant

And it ended up in the movie.

Josh Clark

Apparently, they modified the engine, and it killed the transmission. So it had to be eventually towed across the finish line, which I thought was pretty cool.

Chuck Bryant

Right, and in the film, that actually happened. Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise were the Needham Yates characters, and Farah Fawcett was the wife. What else happened that was real? Three drivers actually did pose as priests, if you remember in the movie. It was - awesomely, it was Sammy Davis, Jr, and Dean Martin posing as -

Josh Clark

Yeah, [inaudible] Martina.

Chuck Bryant

Drunk priests in the movie.

Josh Clark

I don't know that they were posing.

Chuck Bryant

They really were drunk?

Josh Clark

At least not the drunk part.

Chuck Bryant

Well, sure, they were probably hammered. What else, Josh?

Josh Clark

I don't know. I haven't seen the movie in a really long time.

Chuck Bryant

All right, well, I got it for you then. There were in fact scantily clad skintight jumpsuits on a couple ladies in a sports car.

Josh Clark

I read the opposite. I read that that was the Right Bra Company that inspired that part.

Chuck Bryant

I read the opposite. We'll have to check that.

Josh Clark

All right, we'll do it.

Chuck Bryant

And then, there was a wealthy entrant that had his chauffer drive him in a Rolls Royce.

Josh Clark

Nice.

Chuck Bryant

And in the movie, that was Jamie Farr. Played a Middle Eastern Sheikh, Clinger!

Josh Clark

That's right. Yeah. You know, he and I are from the same hometown.

Chuck Bryant

Toledo?

Josh Clark

Toledo.

Chuck Bryant

Is that why he always wore the Toledo Mud Hens hat in Mash?

Josh Clark

Yeah and why he talked about it incessantly. He really was from Toledo.

Chuck Bryant

Did not know that.

Josh Clark

Yeah, and Tony Packo's hotdogs that he talks about all the time, real place. Best hot dogs on the planet.

Chuck Bryant

Really? Had no idea! So those were just a few of the things that actually happened in the final Cannonball Run that ended up in the film. A Jaguar driven by Dave Heinz and Dave Yarborough won that year, and they obliterated the time period with 32 hour and 51 minute, 87 mile per hour average.

Josh Clark

Wow.

Chuck Bryant

Fifty speeding tickets that year.

Josh Clark

Wow. Well, there were 42 contestants.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, sure. So that was the last one, and it has spawned imitators over the years.

Josh Clark

Before Cannonball Run the movie came out, there were already imitators.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

Yeah, there was one movie that came out in '75 and two that came out in '76. You want to hear the weird thing about it?

Chuck Bryant

What's that?

Josh Clark

David Carradine was in two of them.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

He was in - let's see. Death Match 2000!

Chuck Bryant

Death Race 2000.

Josh Clark

Death Race 2000, which is set in the future. But he was also in Cannonball!, which is a farcical take on the Cannonball Run. Then there was a second one that had Gary Busey in it or a third one that had Gary Busey in it called Gumball Rally.

Chuck Bryant

Right, and that's a real one. The Gumball 3000 is still in existence.

Josh Clark

Is that European or in America?

Chuck Bryant

Well, they do both, and they're quick to say that it's not a race. It's more like an adventurous road trip, and then the lame Europe -

Josh Clark

Yeah, tell them about the European version of the Cannonball Run. Chuck hates this.

Chuck Bryant

I do. You know why? Because they call it the Cannonball Run! They use that name. And this thing is not even a race. The goal of the Cannonball Run Europe is to stay as close to a 61 mile per hour average as you can, and in 2008, a friggin' smart car won to -

Josh Clark

Oh, talk about a slap in the face. Were Brock Yates dead, he would have rolled over in his grave.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, he's rolling over in his Lazy Boy.

Josh Clark

Instead, he rolled over a smart car with his bear hands.

Chuck Bryant

He did.

Josh Clark

If anybody could do it, Mr. Brock Yates could my friend.

Chuck Bryant

I think so.

Josh Clark

So that's Cannonball Run. Eh?

Chuck Bryant

How fast have you driven? What's the fastest you've ever driven?

Josh Clark

I don't know, 110. I actually once got a speeding ticket - or no. You want to hear a weird story?

Chuck Bryant

Let's hear it.

Josh Clark

I don't know if this will make the final cut or not because it's kind of long, but get this. My friend and I were driving from Atlanta to Charleston in my old Toyota Corolla. It was an '86 champagne colored Toyota Corolla. And I was doing 110 on I-20 during a stretch where the speed limit is 55. So I was doing twice the speed limit. I get pulled over by this guy in this car with a little dash headlight on it spinning around, and I pull over, and this guy is dressed like a para-military cop, and he's like, "You are so dead. You're going to jail forever."And he goes back to his car and calls somebody. And this other guy comes out. And he comes back, and he's like, "You're at least going to lose your license." And he goes back and talks to the guy who he said later was the sergeant on duty. And he comes back, and he goes, "You're going to get a ticket of some sort." And he goes back and talks to the guy again, and he goes, "Here's your license back. You guys drive safely now," and he let's us go.

Chuck Bryant

You're free to go.

Josh Clark

Exactly. So my friend and I are looking at each other like, "What just happened?" Right? It was so surreal. And to this day, I wonder - have you seen Pulp Fiction? Of course you have. Remember Zed?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

I have the distinct impression that these guys were into Zed like affairs.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, and something else was - took precedent.

Josh Clark

I - my friend was - he's not a good looking guy, so I'm thinking maybe they were like, "We'll pass on these two," and we headed onto Charleston.

Chuck Bryant

I got you. So they were going to get you back to the police station and -

Josh Clark

I don't think they were cops. What cop would not give you a ticket when you're driving twice the speed limit?

Chuck Bryant

I got you. I got a story.

Josh Clark

Let's hear it.

Chuck Bryant

About four years ago, me and my buddy Scotty were doing - it was actually the last TV commercial job I ever did. It was a Six Flags job in Six Flags, Massachusetts, whatever that one is called.

Josh Clark

Six Flags over Massachusetts.

Chuck Bryant

Is it?

Josh Clark

I don't know.

Chuck Bryant

I think it's Great America. Anyway, so we go up there to do this job, and -

Josh Clark

What kind of job?

Chuck Bryant

I don't know. It was New Jersey, but we have to drive.

Josh Clark

Oh, it was a hit.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, we drive - at one point, we have like two days off while we're up there, and I have a friend in Vermont, and the third Star Wars prequel was being released that Friday. So I said, "Hey, man, let's go up and see Johnny Pendell, rent a car, and drive up there." Because we had a camera truck! He said, "Sure, let's do it." So we rented like a little Geo Metro. Whatever the cheapest little four stroke engine car you could get. And we have a time limit because we have to make the movie. It's like a 6:00 p.m. showing. So we're speeding through Vermont.Like the hills of Vermont. It's lovely. And this little engine is like - and we had topped this hill, and we see one of those signs that say your current speed. And it said, "Your current speed," and it blinked and went 102. And I had never seen a triple digit on one of those signs. So we just laughed and blazed right through it and made the movie.

Josh Clark

You laughed in your Geo Metro. Its like, "Call the police."

Chuck Bryant

And we literally - we made it right as the movie was starting, and the engine was like ticking. It was red hot. And that's my fast story.

Josh Clark

Well, if you have a fast story, we'd actually like to hear it. Here's the caveat. Don't go out and commit any kind of crime or act that includes fastness.

Chuck Bryant

No.

Josh Clark

If it's already happened, then we'll hear about it. We'll tell you the e-mail right after we get to listener mail. Right, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant

Yes, Josh.

Josh Clark

All right. Let's go.

Chuck Bryant

Josh, I'm going to call this - the only time we've ever read listener mail from the same dude.

Josh Clark

Oh, I don't know about this, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

Well, we have to. This is the Hackster. Ryan Hack, my buddy. Listened to the house history podcast and I have a creepy story. One of the houses I grew up in as a kid had a hidden door so you could go to the basement. It's more or less just blended into the wood paneling. As you walk through the door, you came to an open area with some shelving and a work bench. There were a couple of old bike tires and some random parts still lying around.

Josh Clark

And a guy named Zed.

Chuck Bryant

And a guy named Zed. Every once in a while, we'd hear what sounded like people working on their bikes and chit chatting, pounding metal gears, dropping, laughing, chains turning. Every time we'd go into the room, there was nothing.

Josh Clark

Weird.

Chuck Bryant

Later on, we found out the history of the house. Turns out one of the previous owners was a couple that enjoyed biking, and they died in a biking accident.

Josh Clark

And forgot to get the memo.

Chuck Bryant

So just thinking about it gives me chills. And this is from Ryan, and I'm just going to go ahead and say that Ryan Hack has inspired me to exercise because he has a blog called HacksFirst5K.blogspot.com where he started running and lost weight and is into it now, and he got me listening to another podcast called Two Gomers Run a Marathon.

Josh Clark

I don't know that I am entirely okay with you leading this extra life that I'm unaware of until you read listener mail.

Chuck Bryant

But Two Gomers Run a Marathon is actually a really funny podcast. It's just these two guys that say they're gomers, kind of nerdy, and they're completely unathletic, yet they want to run a marathon. So their podcast goes through their trials and travails, and it's really funny. They got a website called TwoGomers.com.

Josh Clark

Cool. Well, Ryan Hack, since you got all those plugs and because you had two listener mails read on air, you have to go contribute $25.00 to Kiva.org on the Stuff You Should Know team. Chuck, do you want to tell everybody else about that?

Chuck Bryant

Kiva.org. Go to the - click on community and search Stuff You Should Know team. Join our team. Loan $25.00 to someone in need. You can now donate to Americans, I've heard.

Josh Clark

If you're nationalistic or an isolationist, you can still donate.

Chuck Bryant

But right now as of press time, we have raised more than $4,500.00 in about ten days.

Josh Clark

And who has sent me $7,100.00, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant

The lousy, cheap fans of the Colbert, quote unquote, nation.

Josh Clark

You know what's sad? That guy has got way more fans than we do. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Way more.

Josh Clark

One hundred and ten members on his team. We've got 180 so far.

Chuck Bryant

Already.

Josh Clark

Yeah, so way to go those of you in the Stuff You Should Know nation who supported Kiva.org so far. For those of you who want to get on the trolley, you can go to www.Kiva.org/team/StuffYouShouldKnow, and you can become a member. And like Chuck said, you can contribute as little as $25.00, and you actually get that back.

Chuck Bryant

If you want.

Josh Clark

Sure. You could roll it over again or whatever. So Chuck, that's it. Right?

Chuck Bryant

That's it.

Josh Clark

If you have a cool high speed story, Chuck and I want to hear about it. If you have a great unicorn story, you know we always want to hear about that. Send it in an e-mail to StuffPodcast@HowStuffWorks.com.

Announcer

For more on this and thousands of other topics, visit HowStuffWorks.com. Want more How Stuff Works? Check out our blogs on the HowStuffWorks.com homepage.