It began as an unofficial, unsanctioned (and illegal) road race in 1971. The rules: Drive as fast as possible from Darien, Connecticut to Redondo Beach, California. It was the brainchild of motorsports magazine writer and TV reporter Brock Yates (Car and Driver Magazine, CBS-TV). Dubbed the “Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash,” the object of the race was to arrive first at the designated terminus while avoiding local police and speed traps. According to published reports, it was “intended both as a celebration of the United States Interstate Highway System and a protest against strict traffic laws coming into effect at the time.”
American auto racing legend Dan Gurney, who won the second edition in 1972, is said to have proclaimed, “At no time did we exceed 175 miles per hour.”
The Cannonball was run a total of five times from 1971 to 1979. The race spawned two motion pictures:Cannonball (1976) and The Cannonball Run (1981). Illegal? Yes. Dangerous? Of course. After the original Cannonball races were halted, Car and Driver began to sponsor a legitimate closed-course tour, the One Lap of America. Yates passed away in 2016 and his legacy is carried on by his son, Brock Jr.
The 2018 edition of the Tire Rack One Lap of America is a controlled tour with stops at tracks across the country. The One Lap of America will cover 12 states and will visit Gateway Motorsports Park’s road course and drag strip on Sunday, May 6.
Says Yates, “The 35th running of the One Lap promises to be an exciting one. With a packed field, some very talented drivers in the world’s most advanced street cars and a great route packed with challenging tracks, we are sure the competition will be fierce and fun.” The event is open to the public.
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Gateway Motorsports Park PR