Fun Movies with awesome cars, what could be a better break from the hand-to-hand combat we are seeing breaking out in news and politics? Here is a story that is sure to take many of you down memory lane with a smile on your face. It is a story about the spirit of original American rebels; the Gonzo Journalist, and the street racer. America is built on doing stuff our own way and telling our own stories.
See if this story reminds you of the American spirit of agency, back when people just did cool things like The Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash.
The event was so audacious that it was the inspiration for an iconic movie called Cannonball Run. And what would the late 1970s have been without the Cannonball Run? BORING- that’s what.
Now the movie is American history because the leading car in the movie is in the car hall of fame.
The National Historic Vehicle Register welcomes their 30th member to the exclusive club: the 1979 Lamborghini Countach LP400 S from The Cannonball Run to their collection. The car is Italian, of course, but everything else about this story is pure Americana.
“The Countach is a car that has excited and intrigued car enthusiasts since its radical style shocked the world on its debut in the early ’70s,” says Jonathan Klinger, executive director of the Hagerty Drivers Foundation. “We are thrilled to document and share the history behind what is probably the most famous example of the storied model.”
The car is a rebel.
Do you remember this fantastic movie?
Properly collecting, documenting, archiving, and preserving history for future generations is no easy task, especially when trying to preserve something like a car. That’s where the National Historic Vehicle Register comes into play, which documents the country’s most historically significant automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles. Today, the organization announced the 30th car it’ll induct – the 1979 Lamborghini Countach LP400S used in The Cannonball Run.
The Countach is an icon in its own right, a stunning performance machine to debut in the mid-1970s that guided the supercar era that followed. However, the one being inducted is even more special. It starred in The Cannonball Run’s opening scene, which was a movie based on the famous coast-to-coast races organized by auto journalist Brock Yates. The movie, a slapstick comedy with a star-studded cast of actors and cars, certainly added to the car’s appeal through the 1980s.
The 1979 Lamborghini Countach LP400S used in "The Cannonball Run" becomes the newest addition to the National Historic Vehicle Register. pic.twitter.com/NhgrfgUZQa
— Concours d'Elegance of America (@ConcoursUSA) August 11, 2021
But don’t forget the movie was about a purely fantastic American race. So let’s get back to the race.
Upon the time of his death, Car and Driver memorialized Yates by telling the story of why he created the race the movie is about:
“Bored with tilting at windmills, Yates created the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash in 1971, a coast-to-coast public road race. Although it was never officially sanctioned by this publication, the inaugural test run and four additional sprints following the rules-free format made memorable reading in Car and Driver. Yates and Dan Gurney won the first race in just under 36 hours in 1971 with a (borrowed) Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona. About that exploit, Gurney noted, “At no time did we exceed 175 mph.” When Hollywood took notice, Yates teamed with stuntman and director Hal Needham to write the screenplays for Smokey and the Bandit II and The Cannonball Run I and II, which, together, earned more than $100 million at the box office.”
Check out this 1972 article in Car and Driver, that tells more about the story behind the iconic movie, back when magazines rocked out with Americans who did things- who had agency- and weren’t just mass-produced to crush the country with Marxism.
Back when there was some great ‘gonzo journalism’ from dudes like Yates:
From the March 1972 issueThose damn fools, they went and did it. Shortly after midnight on the 15th of November, 1971, six outlandish vehicles, manned by 16 even more outlandish drivers, co-drivers, navigators, mechanics—and a TWA stewardess, for God’s sake—scattered out of the Red Ball Garage on East 31st Street in New York City and headed west. A few hours passed and two more entrants joined the chase—a coast-to-coast epic that will be remembered as the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. Eight vehicles in all, 23 lunatics. Less than a day and a half later (six minutes less, to be precise), the first car, a mud-streaked Ferrari Daytona, yowled into the parking lot of the Portofino Inn in the marina of Redondo Beach, California, 2863 miles from New York. In the next three hours, four more machines had checked in, and the exhausted, red-eyed competitors were lounging around, breathing the gentle Pacific air, stretching their cramped, grubby bodies in the warm sun, and exchanging tales of their adventures. Twenty-four more hours passed before the last competitor, a pachydermatous Travco Motor Home with a shrieking police motorcycle escort, rolled sedately over the finish line.
Kari is an ex-Community Organizer who writes about Cultural Marxism, grassroots activism, music, IndyCar racing and political campaigns. @Saorsa1776