TWINSBURG, Ohio — Records are meant to be broken, right?
Twinburg’s Doug Tabbutt and his team are now the Cannonball Run record holders, beating the previous time by more than an hour.
If you’re not familiar with the Cannonball Run, there’s a 1981 movie by the same name that’s worth watching. But in a nutshell, it’s a cross-country race by car – starting at Red Ball Garage in Manhattan, finishing at the Portofino Hotel and Marina just outside Los Angeles, California.
Averaging 103 mph and reaching a top speed of 193 mph along the way, Tabbutt, Arne Toman, and Berkeley Chadwick completed the trip in just 27 hours and 25 minutes! For reference, Google Maps says the trip would normally take about 41 hours depending on traffic and time of day.
“[Arne and I] had been dreaming about beating the cannonball record for probably over a decade – really since our childhood,” said Tabbutt.
“Since I was in high school, I knew what the cannonball run was… it’s just been a passion of mine for a long time.”
Tabbutt owns an exotic car dealership in Twinsburg called Switch Cars and has always been a car enthusiast. Chasing the record was a personal goal of sorts that required a lot of effort to pull off.
First step, you need a fast car.
Tabbutt says, “choosing and building the right car is an adventure in and of itself.”
For this attempt, they chose a Mercedes E63, which is no slouch even before modification. But Toman added the necessities to reach 800 horsepower. The changes also include a 45-gallon fuel cell for the extended trip, and added technology to get around law enforcement.
“We had a full suite of countermeasures, military level electronics, stabilized binoculars, thermal scope,” said Tabbutt going over the laundry list of items in the car.
“We had to line up scouts as well to run ahead of us… doing research on police tactics and enforcement methods in different states.”
Tabbutt also used spreadsheets to plan the route and decide when to leave so that each area had the least amount of traffic.
And on November 10th, the trio hit the road. After hitting some unexpected delays in the Midwest, Tabbutt thought the record was out of reach. But they pressed on to a successful run.
“Sometimes I have to go back and look to verify – it’s almost like I don’t believe the timetables that show we did it,” Tabbutt recalled in disbelief. “I’m like there’s no way we could have done that, but we did.”
The record trip is documented using GPS, photo and video data – although the entire trip has no sanctioning body to officially confirm results. But there are plenty of Cannonball enthusiasts who follow attempts accomplishments like this one.
“Multiple people have tried to beat that [time] in the 6 years [the old record stood] and have not really even come close,” Tabbutt said referring to the 2013 time of 28 hours 50 minutes. The race itself dates back to 1971.
At 193 mph, the race is not legal. But that doesn’t stop people from trying it. In all the calculations needed for success, Tabbutt says safety is at the top. And at no time do they drive in a way that would endanger themselves or others.
“We’re highly focused on what other drivers may do in order to anticipate their moves,” he said. Most of the drive is on empty rural roads that are straight paths according to Tabbutt. But when they do encounter other traffic, they slow down and try not to draw attention to the what they’re doing.
Tabbutt also relies on his professional driving training over the years to keep himself and others safe.
“We race a lot on tracks. We have a ton of experience and driver training.”
And now that training and experience has paid off, the trio now holders of a record that someone is probably already planning to go after.
Watch 3News' full interview with Tabbutt in the player below: