‘We never exceeded 175 mph’

First posted here six years ago.

A particular favorite article of mine from the years I subscribed to Sports Illustrated was Brock Yates’s 1972 From Sea to Speeding Sea. “The Cannonball was an out law auto race—unsanctioned and definitely unwise—but off they went, roaring their way toward L.A.” Yates drove the winning Ferrari with racer Dan Gurney from NYC to LA in 35 hours and 54 minutes.

A couple of excerpts:

Determined to find a car to race in the Cannonball, the three men had looked in the Times classifieds in search of a “driveaway” deal—an arrangement where one drives another’s car to a destination for nominal expenses. This is a common tactic used to transport personal cars by people who don’t like to drive long distances. The Long Island gentleman wanted his new Cadillac Coupe deVille driven to California. Opert & Co. obliged, nodding hazily at his firm orders that his prized machine not be driven after nine o’clock at night, not before eight o’clock in the morning and not run faster than 75 miles an hour. Naturally, all the regulations would be violated before the car left Manhattan.

. . . . .

A yellow 4-4-2 Oldsmobile Cutlass appeared in the rearview mirror. It was running fast, coming up on me at an impressive rate. Two guys were on board and I sensed that they were looking for a race. They drew even and we ran along for a way nose to nose. I looked over to catch eager grins on their faces. I smiled back and slipped the Ferrari from fifth to fourth gear. We were running a steady 100 mph when the Olds leaped ahead. I let him have a car-length lead before opening the Ferrari’s tap. The big car burst forward, its pipes whooping that lovely siren song, and rocketed past the startled pair in the Oldsmobile. I glanced over at them to see their faces covered with amazement. Like most of the populace, they had no comprehension of an automobile that would accelerate from 100 mph that quickly. The Ferrari yowled up to 150 mph without effort, leaving the Olds as a minuscule speck of yellow in the mirror.

I slowed again and turned up the volume on the stereo. Buck Owens and his Buckaroos were sonorously singing I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail. I laughed all the way to Las Cruces.