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An amazing writeup on The 2904 by David Simpson

Here is an amazing write up from David Simpson about our experiences on the 2015 running of The 2904. He drove a Lexus SC400 and set a new solo NY to LA record of 34 hours 33 minutes. 

“Let’s have a race across the country,” said every car guy ever.
“No,” said every lawyer and law man ever.
“The City That Never Sleeps to the City of Angels. A modern day Cannonball Run.”
“Still no.”
“Ok, we will call it a Transcontinental Motorized Vehicular Tournament of Efficiency and Endurance.” Says John Ficarra, organizer of The 2904.
“No.”
“We will limit the budget. That will slow them down. Just $2,904!”
“A hard no.”
“Ok, that has to include the price of the car, gas, repairs, food, tolls, supplies, everything not safety related.”
“Not a chance.”
“We will make them leave on Halloween night! There will be cops everywhere looking for drunks and would-be child runner overers”
“Still not enough.”
“Then we will make them drive through a Grateful Dead concert release at Madison Square Garden. And the New York City Marathon is the next day.”
“No chance”
“And then we throw in the time change. There are two 2 AMs! No one will even know what time it is!”
“Absolutely not.”
“The road will be littered with deer body parts, coyotes, tumbleweeds, and more.”
“Getting worse.”
“And we will invite the fastest guys ever to drive across the country!”
“Wrong direction.”
“Ok, we will make them come up with crazy team names and dress up like action figures. We’ll have it on a weekend with rain, snow, fog and blinding cloudless skies as they drive into the setting sun.”
“Well maybe…”
“There will be semi trucks flipped over on the higways and long detours on back roads and mile after mile of single lane highways due to construction. Not to mention all of the extra patrols of police because of the holiday!”
“All that will certainly slow them down….”
“And stock the teams with crazy hipsters, vagabond musicians, freelance journalists and other lunatics.”
“Oh, why not! Let’s do it. With all that against them, they’ll never even get up to the speed limit, let alone break it.”

The stage was set…

John and his band of Merry Pranksters convened on Halloween in Brooklyn, Down Under Manhattan Bridge in a flash mob style photo shoot which promptly got shut down and they were all ran off with stern warnings to get out, stay out and stop leaking oil all over the fair Brooklyn streets. Oddly enough,the Ghost-busters Cadillac rolled by, not looking out of place one bit with the motley collection of automotive detritus of The 2904. They promptly wound their way across town to where the festivities were being hosted by the Miss-Fires, a super cool all girl bike club, at Works Engineering, a super cool bike shop that specialized in somewhat obscure motorcycles. Laverdas, old Honda’s, Triumph, BSA, etc. With beer in a cooler and pizza in a great shining copper oven, the party started up in earnest. Last minute repairs were made right there on the street, with tool bags and flashlights and care not to step on the homeless guy sleeping on the sidewalk.

Duct tape was utilized to hold parts on.
New head light wires were run.
CB’s were checked.

1979 Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash participant John Harrison was there as Master of Ceremonies and regaled us with tales of the original races. When it came time to decide the start times from the Red Ball Garage, Indian Leg Wrestling was used to determine the winners of the most coveted slots. Cars were stickered up, hugs and good lucks spread all around and the party wound down early.
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We would see each other again, the Good Lord willing, some 2800 miles later, in California.

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Following is a breakdown of the Cars and their times:

Ed Bolian 2904

1.) Team Great White Whale 2002 Mercedes S55 32:05

The leader of the winning team for this year’s event also holds the record for fastest car ever to traverse this nation from Red Ball to Portofino. This was neither the day, nor the car to topple his Herculean 2013 28:50 NY to LA feat but we were still in for a treat with what he had in store. Now he can add the record for the fastest time in a competitive Cannonball style event.

Ed Bolian – exotic car salesman, Sunday School teacher, outlaw.

You shouldn’t be able to buy a car with the kind of potential that the S55 had within the budget of The 2904, but Ed is a professional about such things. Ask him about the time he bought a Prostitute’s Lamborghini for $30,000.

Beyond that, even if you could buy such a car within the rules, surely it would never run. That is where his co-driver David “Klink” came in: Master Mercedes Tech, fast car driver (with the tickets to prove it), and someone who shines in the face of “that can’t be fixed.” Multi-Gumball 3000 veteran Chris made their third as they climb aboard their formerly $100,000 dollar, 12 owner, 2 accident, salvage title, bought with unknown mileage, temporary-tag-clad Craigslist find Mercedes that was a non-running electrical nightmare before they spent over 1,000 hours to bring it back to a shadow of it’s former Autobahn Burning Glory.

To cover the 2,804 miles, they started in the PRDA spot at the stroke of Midnight, took 18 minutes just to get to the Tunnel to leave the city, drove through heavy rains and fog, crested a deer carcass at 130+, bounced a construction barrel off their car when making a dicey lane-losing merge in front of an angry semi and kept the pedal to the metal (up to 156 MPH) with a time of 32:05, breaking the old record which stood for 32 years by the slim margin of only 2 minutes.

A new World Record. Congratulations, Gentlemen.
If you want to know more about how to turn a lop of junk into a World Class Endurance Car or more on his other world record run, check out Ed’s Blog at Edbolian.com

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2.) Team Colonel Klunk 2003 Mercedes CLK430 Cabriolet 32:26

2nd Place goes to the two smartest guys in the room who can build websites and write apps and design their own circuit boards and invent things us mere mortals can only barely understand……but can’t read a map.

Dave Black and Forrest Sibley got lost in Maryland.
And in St. Louis.

But they equipped their 181,000 mile convertible (Convertible???? Really???? Yes, Convertible) with enough extra fuel and jammers and detectors and all manner of techno-geek things that gave them the confidence to run flat out, full tilt boogie with out letting up until one of their early warning devices told them to.

They hammered that former hair dresser’s car to speeds upwards of 130 MPH, accidentally ran down a confused coyote, had parts falling off their car and fixed it on the fly with duct tape, they got airborne at 120 when navigating a particularly hairy off ramp junction and even though they were battling the clock and other drivers, they took the time to stop and ensure another team was okay after a hairy high speed blowout. Their final time was 32:26, making them the third fastest guys to ever cross the continent in a multi car tournament. (Their actual run time was 32:16 but in the excitement of the arrival, they forgot to time stamp their official packet for 10 minutes. DOH! ) I would tell them “Congratulations” but they probably can’t hear after 2800 high speed miles in a convertible.

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3.) Team P71 BlackTurd 2007 Ford Crown Victoria 33:03

3rd Place goes to a team of guys from Chicago. Arne Toman, Miles Compton and Jake Compton from AMS Performance (The Vice Prez and a couple of his employees who just happen to be twins) They build custom twin turbo Lambo setups, 2000+HP GTR’s…. you know, every day run of the mill ho-hum stuff.
They decided not buy an old Autobahn Burner or Grand Touring fancy mans car but stick to American Muscle.
And stealth.
And the $2904 budget.

Their Transcon Cruiser of choice was a Ford Crown Victoria, another former cop car/former Taxi cab complete with spotlight and a quarter million miles on the odometer. As mundane and plain Jane as possible but still intimidating to motorists because they have been police cars for decades. And every body knows if a cop car comes flying up behind you, you scoot over a lane and let him go by.
For aerodynamics, they bolted plywood to the undercarriage of the car, for fuel they built a beautifully designed aluminum fuel cell. The finest fuel system I’ve seen in a Trans Con car.

For stealth, they painted the car semi-matte black.
For go fast, they abided by the rules and didn’t add turbos or blowers or any other exotica they had laying around the shop from one their Gazillion horsepower builds. Just a good tune up.
To be honest, they were dismissed initially as serious contenders by some of the more experienced guys because their car looked like something the cat drug in and the dog left alone and they didn’t have cross country endurance experience.
But hold on to your hats, ladies and gents.
That old saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” would apply to these guys.
In spades.
They tore out of the Red Ball Parking Garage in the middle of the night and didn’t let up on that clunky looking old Ford.
Ever.
Hammer Down with Extreme Prejudice.
Left Lane Police Profile Privilege.

They plowed down massive tumbleweeds and suffered a road closure and detour on I-80. They dropped a gear and red-lined it up the Rocky Mountains because third gear just wasn’t punk rock enough for those Chicago Reppin’ misfits. They spread fear and intimidation across the nation and came to a screeching halt, staring at the Pacific Ocean, in just 33:03. The sixth fastest guys on the planet in an organized event.
That tired old Crown Vic was hours quicker than other heavy weight contenders in the past: Porsche’s, BMW’s, Mercedes, Ferrari’s, Pantera’s, etc. all bow to the sheer audacity of American “Junk” putting them in their place.

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If you’ve got a need for speed and want serious go-fast parts, look them up. AMSperformance.com

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4.) Team Kamikaze Subterfuge 1995 Lexus SC400 34:33

4th Place went to one of the two solo drivers in the event. I was driving a Wangan Highway Roller, a 1995 twice wrecked, once totaled, $1,400 salvage title Lexus SC400 with 260,000 miles on it I equipped it with an overabundance of electronics to try to make up for the lack of co-driver: An iPod with the greatestTransCon Playlist ever pumping through a conquering sound system, a Garmin Nuvi, an iPad running Waze with wireless aux speaker, 3 iPhones running various apps, an AL Priority Laser Jammer, (which paid for itself the one time it was activated and I brought it down from triple digits to a sedately 65 mph before he could reacquire) a Valentine 1 Radar Detector, (Don’t leave home without it), Cobra 29 LTD peaked and tuned with a 100 watt linear and aux speaker, a blue tooth headset, a set of flashing police style (NOT POLICE BLUE)strobe lights for left lane laggers and a few other things which can’t be discussed in a public forum…

I used a 45 gallon fuel tank off of an old Semi truck which I failed to clean out properly AND failed to test properly and this caused constant fuel filter clogging. Thank goodness I added two oversized ones right in the back that were easy to get to and clean. Still cost at least a half hour, though. I must of pulled over to clean them a half dozen times. It was an easy run, living on Beef Jerky and protein drinks. I felt the fallout of the high speed shenanigans of a couple of the guys a few hours ahead of me in Oklahoma. They had been called in to the police by motorists and Truckers who tried to take the law into their own hands. The Boys in Blue were out in force, patrolling the roads all the way into Texas. So the cruise was set at the posted limit and Oklahoma took forever to finally put in my back pocket.

On the last leg into LA, the freeway was shut down with a massive thousand car pile up (at least that what it seemed like) so I ran old Route 66 in. Not the best road to make time but some of the original Cannonball drivers took this route in so it was kinda cool, although another time robbing detour.

Top speed was 137 MPH, made it in 2 fuel stops and had a final time of 34:33.
A new worlds record for a solo driver.

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5.) Team Moral Ambiguity 1998 Cadillac STS 35:08

5th place went to the other solo driver, who is a two time world record holder for solo drives. Yumi’s vehicle of choice was Luxury American Iron in the form of a Cadillac STS, fully stickered up with Medical Courier placards and over-sized bazillion candle power spotlights. However, in real life, he really is a medical courier who frequently talks his way out of speeding tickets by just showing the officers a human kidney or liver or something.
Yuck.

Yumi had been sandbagging on the last two records he held: 38 hours and 37 hours. This time, with another guy trying to take the title from him, he hit it hard and didn’t let up, shaving hours off of his previous records.

Red Bull and a heavy right foot.
Getting into the “Zone” and holding that pedal close to the floor.

He took the northern route across route 80, trying to cut a few precious moments by running the wide open spaces and avoiding some of the congestion and construction of running through the center but had overheating problems while climbing the same mountain the Crown Vic Police Imposters screamed over in 2nd gear. This cost him just enough time that he then ran into rush hour traffic in Vegas, thus destroying his chances of having a trifecta solo driver Victory. He crossed the finish line with a very respectable time of 35:08, putting him in the top 20 fastest guys to ever cross the nation by automobile, beating out at least 200 other TEAM drivers over the years. No one is sure exactly how many vehicles have competed since 1971, the first organized race across the nation. The first records were spotty but approximately 100 cars competed in the first 4 Cannonball Runs and about 75 in the 4 years of the US Express. The 2904 has fielded about 40 cars total, the C2C Express a small handful.
Congratulations, Yumi. Just don’t get so tired you reach for Beef Jerky and come back with a hand full of spleen or something.

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6.) Team The A-Way Team 1995 Oldsmobile Silhouette 36:48

6th place goes to the A-way Team, driven by past The 2904 record holders, The A-Team, in the Cadillac of minivans – the 1995 Oldsmobile Silhouette with two 22 gallon fuel cells , and a full leather interior. Chosen for its resemblance to a Star Trek shuttle, the theme was set, and instead of Mohawks and machine guns, this year it was Spock ears and phasers. The NCC-2904 was ready for launch.

On board was Capt Kirk, Will Riker, and Mr. Spock dressed in full Star Trek gear for the whole journey. Opting to leave last, they approached the Red Ball at 9pm on Sunday only to have copious amounts of acrid smoke billow from the hood in the middle of 34th street, only blocks from the start. The A/C clutch had frozen and cooked the serpentine belt. Contrary to popular belief, NYC on a Sunday night is not a place for car parts, so the Shuttle finally left, with new shorter belt, at 9:55am Monday morning. As you can imagine at that time their egress was not filled with anything resembling speed.

Once in New Jersey warp speed was achieved and the 20-year-old minivan lurched forward with a pace best reserved for autobahn cruisers and people with diplomatic immunity. Four states down and the Shuttle received news that there was trouble with the RV that was 12 hours ahead. So plans where made for Riker to rescue the RV, and the Shuttle to take on two hipster refugees. In Tulsa Oklahoma at 3am the swap was made, and then things got interesting. Little did the hipsters know, but they were in for a bumpy night. Kirk was determined to stay competitive and starting exploring the upper limit of the Shuttle’s operational parameters. Lashing rain, tornados, and finally in Arizona they blasted through an ice storm, at one point sliding the shuttle about 300ft down the frozen tarmac.

In the greatest The 2904 tradition the earlier finishers were all in attendance for the arrival of the Shuttle finally finishing its 5 day mission being driven from coast to coast to coast. It may have not won The 2904, but Kirk had driven a 1995 Oldsmobile Silhouette from California to New York and back to California in 5 days, 10 hours, 49 minutes. Cadillac of minivans, indeed. And a new record for double transcontinental drive.

Live Long and Prosper, Gentlemen.

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7.) Team Dukes of Yavin Ford Crown Victoria 43:23

If any team embraced the off beat humor, the eccentric madness, the complete immersion into Transcontinental shenanigans, it was the Dukes of Yavin (Andrew Turpin, Helene Delangle and David Krivit) in their bright orange Crown Vic Named General Leia. With their Dukes of Hazzard and Rebels of Yavin mashup, they were certainly the most colorful crew this year. Perhaps “Do. Or do not. There is no try” should have been stenciled on the side of their car with all the troubles they had just getting to the starting line.

First off, they HAD to have a sense of dark humor when they purchased a well used former police car turned taxi cab.

Then promptly replaced the rear end.

Then had the power steering fail. But the Light side of the Force was shining on them…. it was a $2,000 fix that was a factory recall. IT WAS FREE!!!

But then they had to get a tranny replacement at the 11th hour.
(Tranny as in Transmission. Not tranny as in team member)

Luckily, being from New York, they “knew a guy”. If any of you reading this are New Yorkers and your Crown Vic came up missing a transmission late at night, this is not the transmission you are looking for. But with all the last minute emergencies, they made it to the Red Ball and promptly took off for the wild blue yonder, 2800 miles away, pedal to the floor. Until dash lights started coming on.
So they did what any good Rebel would do. Duct tape over the offending lights and keep the thrusters fully engaged. But enjoyable adventure this was supposed to be and enjoyable adventure it was.

They stopped for steak dinner.
They practiced Duke Boys hood slides in New Mexico.
They answered natures call in a civilized 21st century manner utilizing filling station porcelain facilities and running water.
They asked for a Joke Check on the CB.
They vaporized a massive tumbleweed in Arizona more effectively than the Death Star did to Alderaan.

They languidly pulled into the Portofino in 43:23, still faster than Corvettes, Shelby’s, Ferrari’s and Porsche’s of the past. But their General Leia’s story wasn’t quite over yet. After a notable career of law enforcement, paid people shuttler and finally The 2904 Transcontinental Tournament competitor, her final demise was November 14th under the wheels of a Monster Truck at the Escape to Hazzard County Hillbilly Campout event.

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8.) Team Brown Noise 1997 Audi A8 44:49

Another team that are also members of the Fraternity of Lunatics acquired a gently used Audi V8 all wheel drive with a 4.2 liter 32 valve dual overhead cam Autobahn Blaster to be their Cross Country Cruiser.

They won the Indian Leg wrestle on the vaugely piss smelling sidewalk to get the coveted 1 am departure time and then proceeded to push that German engineered Grand Tourer to its computer controlled limits all the way across the rainy New Jersey and Pennsylvania freeways and tollways, the curvy mountainous roads and tunnels, the Midwestern plains and well in to the high desert southwest.

They were making phenomenal times, never letting up.
Machines in the machine.
They were on par to set a new competitive event world record with time to spare.

Then, in Western Oklahoma, their high speed shenanigans brought down the ire of the big rig truckers who were telephoning the police and running a rolling roadblock. The trucks were trying to box them in, shut them down and hold them fast until the friendly neighborhood constabulary could put an end to their endeavors. Pinned in on by 40 tons of angry rolling steel on 3 sides who were forcing them to decelerate, the intrepid Boys in Brown made a daring move…zipping off an exit ramp, flying up and over the top (with a full and complete stop and looking both ways at the stop sign, of course) and blasting back down the other side to get in front of the fast accelerating wall of steel. They knew they could outrun the truckers radios in a few minutes if they could get ahead of them.

Lady Luck is fickle, though, and she threw a monkey wrench at the Flying Brown Audi. Possibly caused by clipping a curb during their escape from the Gear Jamming Vigilante Trucksters, they had a front tire blowout while blasting along well into the triple digits. Fast hands, cool heads, a few words like “heck” and “dang” and quick wits brought them calmly to the side of the road with no more damage than the spent tire.
True Drivers.

However, since the police were already alerted, seven cruisers showed up, lights flashing. With some fast talking and plausible deniability, the intrepid duo were soon being towed to a local repair shop to get 4 new tires installed because the proprietor didn’t have the size they needed. And with 4 states and 1200 miles to go, they couldn’t have a tire an inch shorter than the others. They lost many hours on the repairs but still finished the run, never giving up and will go down in history as one of the few who have ever competed in a flat out coast to coast competition.

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9.) Team Omega Men 1974 Oldsmobile Omega Time: 44 and some change…. Who knows?

Like their DC comics name sake’s, The Omega Men are a bit dodgy.
They are a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
Their original starting car was an early 70s Oldsmobile Omega. This is where facts end and speculation begins. Something happened and the Omega couldn’t make the starting line so they jumped in a Subaru Loyale.

Was this a spare car he had just lying around?
Was this his girlfriends and he said “Can I borrow your car, I will be right back in a few minutes? ”
Did he talk to his brother and say “Yo Fam, Me and the Monica’s need Transpo. Front me a ride.”

All we really know is they arrived at the Portofino wearing pajamas in the rain, barefoot, sporting an awesome mustache, and had a camera crew in the back. I was unable to contact them later to get their story and was told: “I think Ben is in Oslo doing some Nordic shit.”

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10.)Team Golden Years 1973 GMC 23′ Motorhome Still in the running……….

This Behemoth is one of the more unusual vehicles to ever enter into an event of this nature. I believe it’s only the 2nd RV to run, the first being the 27 foot Travco RV that was in the original Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash back in ’71, ’72 and ’75. It may break the record for using the most fuel because before it broke down in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, it was only averaging 3.4 MPG. after 27 hours and 1630 miles. It is not a DNF, the mighty RV’s Captain wants to finish the tournament when the motor is finished being rebuilt….

Which is happening now. I do believe this could be a new worlds record for longest time ever to run a Transcon.

In The 2904 way of doing things, we were run off by management at Portofino while lining up the cars for a photo op, Former record holder and film maker Peter Musurlian was there rolling film, (Check out this vid) we cruised Mullholland Drive to the irritation of locals, made fun of Posh Rodeo Drive restaurants that didn’t serve sweet tea or cheeseburgers, had an awesome after party with gear heads and bikers at the Gasser Lounge, (www.gasserlounge.com) had Corey Welles (of 32:07 fame www.32hours7minutes.com) drop in for drinks and pizza to autograph dvd’s and hang with fellow scofflaws, had another couple of multiple record holders, Carl Reese and Deena Mastracci, drop in, more camera crews, more interviews, more fun.
It possibly was a once in a lifetime adventure. I’m not sure if the rule stretching Fraternity of Lunatics will ever be invited back to attend another of John’s wonderful tournaments, but if we are, we’ll go slow! We promise! (as long as the other guy is behind us……)

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