Known as the Cannonball Run, the unofficial – and illegal – race from New York to Los Angeles is as much about evading police as it is driving fast, following templates set by Hollywood blockbusters such as Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run.
Which makes the new record to cover 2825 miles (4548km) of 27 hours, 25 minutes all the more impressive.
Three friends announced the feat overnight in America and released images and GPS data to prove their trans-continental dash, cementing on the legendary Cannonball Run record list.
According to a detailed report by Road & Track magazine, driving duties were shared by Arne Toman and Doug Tabbutt while Berkeley Chadwick rode in the back seat on the lookout for police and other obstacles.
Their car was a 2015 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sedan, a performance vehicle that may be recognised by enthusiasts but otherwise hides nicely behind a relatively plain four-door body. Badges were removed to make it less conspicuous.
As well as minor tweaks to the twin-turbo V8 engine taking outputs to about 520kW there was a larger fuel cell added to the boot to minimise the times the car would have to stop for petrol. In all the trio claims that just 22 and a half minutes was spent refuelling.
Much of the effort went into evading police.
As well as cameras to capture the epic journey and digital maps to ensure no wrong turns, the team had access to phones to speak to pre-arranged spotters placed strategically along the way as well as monitor real-time apps highlighting where police were.
There was also a police scanner, CB radio, radar detector, laser jammer to block police radar and an “aircraft collision avoidance system” to maximise the chances of spotting cops.
The spotter in the car also had access to gyro-stabilised binoculars and a thermal scope mounted on the roof.
“We picked up a cop warning on [GPS app] Waze and we were able to see the heat signature of the car sitting on the side of the road,” said Toman.
All of which allowed some big speeds. A picture of the GPS log suggests the top speed was 193mph (311km/h), helping cement the incredible average of 166km/h.
The record smashed the old one set in 2013 by 1 hour, 25 minutes, with Toman reported as saying he wanted to ensure it stuck for some time.
“I didn’t want to break the record by minutes,” he said. “I didn’t want anyone else trying and I didn’t want to do it again.”