Eleven Worst Cars For A Cannonball Run Record Attempt

What is the best car for a full on assault on the Cannonball Run record? I’m not talking about rallies by any name. I’m talking about a full-on, balls out race from New York to Los Angeles, where the right gear and police avoidance are paramount.

By now the right cars should be obvious. A supercar on a Cannonball Run? Try sneaking through JFK in a Bin Laden costume.

Sadly, people still don’t want to listen. Let’s face facts. The wrong car will lead to one of two outcomes. Death. Or jail. Actually, there’s a third. A visit to a mechanic, assuming you didn’t bring one with you, in which case you’ve probably already lost. To save those with too much time and money on their hands a lot of time, money and jail time, here’s a list of vehicles to avoid for your next illegal cross-country race:

11) White Ford Van w/275 Gallon Fuel Cell—This is a fun suggestion from the stealth crowd, inspired by the legendary Polish Racing Drivers of America (PRDA). Packing a 275-gallon fuel tank in the back would be no problem. Making it cross country without stopping would be no problem. But let’s count the ways it could go wrong at 100-plus mph. Fumes? A spark? A minor accident? Flipping the truck? There’s a reason tanker trucks look like they do. There’s also a reason you don’t see tanker trucks hauling ass. If you like fireworks, this is the one for you. Bring fireproof suits, and not three-layer Nomex. Actual fireproof suits. I wouldn't want to wear those for 30 some-odd hours.

10) Fake Ambulance (Transcon Medevac)—This is the original Cannonball Run disguise, and arguably the best. It makes sense at first glance. But, like a real ambulance, this is big, heavy vehicle—heavier still once you’ve replaced the patient and doctor with a 275 gallon fuel tank, in which case you’re breaking even more laws than the team in the Ford Van. Modern Cannonball Run times are way faster than they were in the Seventies. Again, not suitable for triple-digit speeds, and of course, EVERY COP IN AMERICA HAS SEEN THE MOVIE. Not smart.

9) Ferrari F40—The one we all want to take. Who wouldn’t want to break free from reality and blaze a path cross-country in a red Ferrari? But there are issues, and not just wear and tear on a classic car. The $10k you’ll pay for wrap, something like Ceramic Pro; the likelihood of a pothole at 150 mph, and the $10k or $50k damage it’ll do. Also, the likelihood that a red Ferrari will be pulled over. Because red Ferrari. And this is an F40, after all: The cops cool enough to let you go would be the same ones pulling you over just to get a better look. I love this car, but there’s literally not one good reason to take one on a Cannonball. Not one.

8) Mercedes-McLaren SLR—Has any car ever looked more like a sex organ? And those scissor doors—you’re guilty as soon as a cop sees the door pivot up. The worst part? I saw three different brand-new SLRs on the Gumball 3000 back when I did it, and not one finished without at least one breakdown. One owner apparently had Mercedes send technicians to Rome—and they still couldn’t resolve his electrical issues. Anecdotal? When you spend this much on a car, it should be able to go 3,000 miles without a hitch. It’s a Mercedes. That SLR from Rome? It broke down again. Right before the finish. I’ll take an AMG-GT.

7) Lamborghini Murcielago/Aventador—The spiritual inheritor to the most famous Cannonball car of all time, the Countach. Like the F40, this one speaks directly to the heart of everyone who wants to Cannonball. Also like the F40, you might as well drive yourself to jail. Tied with the Popemobile for title of Most Conspicuous Car, any halo Lamborghini is a no-go for getting cross country non-stop unimpeded by law enforcement. Amazingly, modern Lambos have been very reliable on various cross-country rallies. Audi mechanicals, no doubt. A better choice than a Ferrari, but still not a good one.

6) Pagani Huayra—This is a funny one. Conspicuous as all hell, but so random and unrecognizable as to add a possible excuse from getting a ticket. You’ll still get pulled over by every cop who just wants to see what it is, but you can always say, “it was those assholes in the Ferrari.” Or the Lambo. For what you paid, you’re going to want to protect it with Ceramic Pro (again), and you certainly won’t be able to fit a proper extra fuel tank. And you don’t want to cut into the dash or electrical system to install all the gear you need. So, even if you make it with being stopped, you have absolutely no chance of winning. None. Zero. Reliability? That awesome Mercedes powerplant suggests it will make it...straight to the impound lot.

5) Any Koenigsegg—If money and legal issues were no object, I’d take a Koenigsegg. Any Koenigsegg. My favorite supercar. A feat of engineering. All the upsides of the Pagani. All the downsides of a Pagani. plus one. Let’s take the Agera R’s theoretical top speed of 273 mph. This is a fast car. So much faster than almost anything else, I doubt a Cannonballer could stop himself from testing its top end. And that’s the problem. You hit a pothole or even a mild road undulation in this thing and you’re dead. That’s the thing about 150 and up. Some cars are too fast for the task. This one is too good. Too fast. Too dangerous. Spare parts? Don’t ask.

4) Porsche Carrera GT—You can’t fault Porsche for building this car. But you can fault those crazy Germans for not offering Traction Control on the Carrera GT. Come on, guys. Tons of cars had it years before the GT came out. I appreciate the purist’s approach as much as anyone, but you can’t Cannonball in a modern sports car without it. It’s not like Porsche couldn’t have included it with a switch. You’d be insane to turn it off, of course, as was demonstrated by two out of three GTs on the 2004 Gumball 3000 spinning out. Badly. Not to mention what happened to an old friend.

3) Bugatti Veyron—The fastest, most advanced supercar of all time? Whatever. All the problems of a Ferrari or Lambo, and more. I could write a book about all the reasons not to bring a Veyron, but let’s stick to just one. Fuel Economy. At Cannonball speeds, you’re looking at 5 mpg. Yes, five miles per gallon. No amount of fuel you could fit would make up for the time lost refueling. An 8-liter 16-cylinder powerplant? Amazing. But amazingly bad for a Cannonball Run.

2) Vector W8—There is only one supercar I could forgive for being on this list. There is only one supercar I’d be willing to go to jail in. It’s the Vector W8. The vaunted American supercar that kinda, almost was. A Vector on the Cannonball? That will never happen, because the likelihood that I’ll ever get my hands on one is zero. As is yours. Another thing that will never happen? A W8 running under its own power for 500 miles. We’ll have flying cars first. This is the Godfather and Grandaddy of all crazy Cannonball cars, and the only car I would risk it all in. Read the full Wiki about Vector Aeromotive, because the story of the company is crazier than any Cannonball. Trust me.

1) Any TVR—If you have to ask.

That’s it.

Why No Other Porsches?

If you’ll notice, the Carrera GT is the only Porsche on the list. The reasons are simple. Porsches have been incredibly reliable across numerous Cannonballs, U.S. Express races, and countless rallies. Conspicuous? Yes. But more common than Ferraris or Lamborghinis, and less likely to get pulled over just for driving by. Lastly, they’re the best value in serious two-door sports cars capable of triple-digit speeds.

I know what you’re thinking. Why aren’t there any Morgans on this list? Because I actually used one to set a record, but that’s another story.

Drive safely. Oh, and here’s my recommended Cannonball Run car list, as of last year, just in case. I’ll have a new one. #Soon.

Alex Roy, entrepreneur, President of Europe By Car, Editor-at-Large for The Drive, and author of The Driver, set the 2007 Transcontinental “Cannonball Run” Record in a BMW M5 in 31 hours & 4 minutes, and has set multiple "Cannonball" endurance driving records in Europe & the United States in the EV, 3-wheeler & Semi-Autonomous Classes. You may follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

How Porsche Almost Won The FIA GT World Cup In Macau

This weekend was the most bizarre two-lap world championship race, possibly in the history of motorsport, as it ended in the middle of the second lap with the winner of the race crashed and upside-down, and with a Porsche in the lead of the race itself. Such is Macau and the interesting dynamics that come to play during this knock-down, drag-out street racing brawl. You see, Macau is a track that is primarily optimized for motorcycle racing, and perhaps the odd Formula 3 race, but it has no business hosting touring cars and GT3s as it does. The Macau circuit is far too narrow a bull ring for these ever-larger GT3s to navigate properly without incident after incident. Regardless, the FIA holds the single-weekend world championship of GT3s during the Macau Grand Prix weekend. It should come as no surprise that the final GT3 race of the weekend, the one to decide an international champion, was marred by two red-flag-inducing crashes in two competition laps.

Lap one saw the race stopped just as it began when Ricky Capo smashed his BMW M6 into the wall at Fisherman's Bend, bringing out a red flag to allow workers to repair the safety fence. As soon as the repairs were affected, the race picked back up under the safety car for three laps. When the green flag waved again on lap 4, Audi driver Laurens Vanthoor had the lead (from pole), ahead of Porsche drivers Earl Bamber and Kevin Estre in close quarters. Less than one lap later, finding their way onto the main straight, the incident depicted in the video below happened. Bamber, ever the hard racer, pushed his way past Vanthoor's Audi to nab the lead and mount a charge. Unfortunately, just a split second later, Vanthoor clipped the inside wall and smashed his Audi into the outside wall, then riding up and flipping over. In case you didn't quite understand what happened there, check out the video below for the full effect.

So, with the Audi crashing out, that puts Bamber in the lead and Estre up into second, right? Not so fast. That car that ended up on its roof was announced the victor of the race. By the time the Audi was cleared from the track, there was only 4 minutes left in the time allotted for the race to happen, and they decided that instead of letting the race continue until the end of that time frame, they cancelled the remainder of the event and gave the trophy to the guy who was in the lead on the last completed timed lap, which was Laurens Vanthoor. The logic to support this is minimal in my mind, but that's what the FIA decided, and that's what will go down in the record keeping books as what happened. After two incomplete laps of racing, Audi was handed the GT World Cup. Ludicrous. Incredulous.

Post Race Quotes

Even eventual victor Laurens Vanthoor - "I’m happy and relieved about not having been injured. My accident happened in one of the fastest track sections. I made a mistake and caused an accident, and won nonetheless. I’m still not quite sure about how to rate this victory.

Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport - “Nobody will forget this race in a hurry. We saw a clear result on the track. Earl fought hard for the lead spot with a sensational overtaking manoeuvre, it all went without a hitch, without any cars touching. The accident with the Audi unfortunately led to the race being stopped. Our drivers and the team put in an extremely strong performance in Macau, but they haven’t been rewarded with the well-earned result. We have won everyone’s hearts, but in the face of such bitter moments, this is poor consolation.”

Earl Bamber, Driver 911 GT3 R #911 - “We drove a fair race and yet we were penalised. I don’t understand it. We deserved to win this race.”

Kévin Estre, Driver 911 GT3 R #912 - “I was looking forward to an exciting race and I thought I had good chances. Our 911 GT3 R was perfectly setup. Unfortunately it didn’t work out as I’d expected. It’s a shame that we couldn’t offer the enthusiastic fans a better show. I hope that I can come back to Macau sometime and fight for victory.”

Lyft’s Getting Rid Of Its Signature Pink Mustache

Since it first launched in 2012, Lyft has worked to position itself as the more easygoing ride-sharing service. A little cheeky, fun-loving, a bit of added flair. Much of that image has come from the brand’s signature pink mustache, originally worn as a large, fuzzy bumper appendage and, more recently, as a light-up dash accessory, dubbed the “Glowstache.” Now, though, the company is ditching the hipster facial hair trope entirely.

Wired reports that a new two-way beacon will replace the Glowstache. Lyft says the device, called Amp, is being introduced to ease the pickup process, helping drivers and riders find each other. As before, the signal is mounted on the dash. But the unit, which looks like a rear-view mirror and houses 20 diffused LED peg bulbs, now displays a specific color; once they’ve ordered a car, customers will be given the option to illuminate their cell phone screen in the same hue.

Using that, drivers and riders can flag each other down, matching blue with blue or green with green, helping pick a specific Lyft out of a crowd, or stand out in a congested area. Besides projecting an outward color for functionality, drivers will be able to customize the interior side of their Amp with a special message to passengers.

It’s worth noting that Uber has been trialing a similar setup, called Spot, but hasn’t committed to mass implementation.

The color-coding idea seems clever, since spotting license plate numbers is a pain at night, and more than one Lyft car outside a crowded bar or club can create confusion. The company claims that Amp should make drivers recognizable from 50 to 100 feet away. So keep an eye out for the new signal moving forward, and pour one out for the Glowstache. Lyft is rolling on.

How To Pass Safety Inspection

Only 17 U.S. states require annual vehicle safety inspections, as opposed to 31 states that require periodic emissions inspections. In a country so obsessed with motor vehicle fatalities, the fact that we willingly forego more comprehensive driver education and pervasive safety equipment checks is confounding. But like the outcome of our recent presidential election, that's the way things are. Regardless of who's driving—you, or the computer—your machine should be in decent shape if you want to avoid accidents.

If you live in one of the states that does require safety inspections, you can prepare beforehand so that you don't have to waste time on a return trip to the inspection station. For those of you who live in those gray voids where your right to ply public roads in a rickety heap of a car regardless of the safety and well-being of your fellow motorists, checking out basic safety equipment annually on your own remains a capital idea.

At minimum, here's what to look for:

? Lights: Do your headlights, tail lights, directional signals, and hazard flashers work? Being visible is one of the more important aspects of driving on public roads.

? Brakes: You'll have to pull a couple of wheels for this one. Ideally, you'll check all four wheels, making sure there is adequate brake lining left on the pads or shoes (there are usually wear indicators to show when they've been worn too low) and check the rotors or drums for excessive wear, cracks and warpage. When you depress the brake pedal, it should feel firm, but not hard. It shouldn't sink gradually to the floor. Check the brake master cylinder and individual brakes for leaks. Leaks are bad, as the hydraulic pressure necessary to operate the brakes won't be strong enough if they're present. The parking brake should be properly adjusted and able to hold the vehicle's weight on an incline.

? Steering: Check the power steering system for leaks and make sure the belt that runs the power steering pump (if it has one) is in good condition. With the front end of the car jacked up off the ground, grab each front wheel at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions and push it back and forth alternately on each side. You're feeling for play in the tie rod ends, which keep the car pointed in the direction the driver wants it to go. If you hear clunking, you'll know it's time to replace some parts.

? Suspension: While you still have the front end of the car off the ground, grab the wheel at the 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock positions and press back and forth forcefully. There should be no play. If there is, ball joints or suspension bushings, which affect the car's handling and stability, are the likely culprits and will need to be replaced. With all four wheels on the ground, press down sharply on each corner of the vehicle. It should bounce once, but that's about it. If it oscillates up and down a few times, you probably need new shock absorbers.

? Fuel System: Do you smell gasoline? If so, better check all those fuel lines. Rubber hoses can develop cracks over time, and in some parts of the country, steel lines rust through. The last thing you need is a fuel leak, which can quickly transform your morning commute from a period of quiet reflection into a skin-searing inferno.

? Tires and Wheels: The tires should have adequate tread (the rule of thumb is if you put a penny in the tread and can see the top of Lincoln's head, you need new tires) and you should not be able to see any steel belting. Make sure there's no dry rotting or other cracks, which can cause blow-outs. Check the wheels for excessive corrosion, and replace wheels that have been damaged by rough road conditions.

? Horn: If your horn doesn't work, fix or replace it. Even if you screw an old doorbell button next to the steering wheel and use an old "La Cucaracha" air horn, you have to have some way of alerting other drivers about potential trouble. I've driven a car with no horn, and it's a lot like running through a crowd of iPhone-absorbed dump truck drivers without being able to scream in terror (as a matter of fact, that's exactly what it's like).

? Windshield/Doors/Windows: The windshield should be free of cracks and pitting so that you can see out of it. All of the windows should work, but especially the driver's side window. They won't look for this in a safety inspection, but if you have a car with electric windows, you should keep a small hammer/seatbelt cutter near the driver's seat so that you can escape from the vehicle if its electrical system fails. You should be able to open doors with inside and outside handles, and they should stay closed while the vehicle is underway.

? Windshield Wipers/Defroster: The windshield wipers should work, as should the defroster. If you've ever driven in a car without these things on a rainy day, you'll know why. You can't see a thing.

? Exhaust System: Make sure there aren't any leaks. That pea-sized hole near your manifold might sound cool (for a couple of days, anyway), but it can also cause poisonous carbon monoxide to leak into the passenger compartment. Once you've ingested enough of this stuff, you may live for a short time, but the carbon monoxide molecules will have destroyed the capacity of your lungs to process oxygen and you will soon die with a red face.

? Seats/Seatbelts/Airbags: The seats should all be intact, and solidly anchored to the floor. Make sure the seatbelts aren't frayed or otherwise damaged. The airbag system lights (SRS) should not stay on after startup, and you should check airbag locations for any damage.

? Floorpan/body: Make sure there are no holes in the floor where exhaust gasses might enter the vehicle.

? Emissions System: Inspectors will want to see that this equipment is all in place. States with emissions testing programs will check its functionality as well.

? Engine Compartment/Undercar: Make sure there are no terrible oil leaks coming from the engine, transmission or differential. Transmission leaks in particular can cause fires if they're leaking on hot exhaust system components.

All of these are very basic guidelines based on the safety inspection standards in my home state of Virginia. To prepare for inspection in your state, check out the DMV website for more detail. Also, if you ask (and sometimes if you don't), most mechanics will do a safety equipment check during regular maintenance and other repairs.