The benchmark time for driving across the United States of America has been set, perhaps permanently, at 25 hours and 39 minutes.
That is how long it took Doug Tabbutt, Arne Toman, and Dunadel Daryoush to travel from New York to California in highly illegal Cannonball Run record attempt.
The trio’s cross-country blast is faster than anything anyone else has ever achieved, and is unlikely to be replicated again.
Set during the tail-end of America’s COVID-19 quarantine and lockdown, with the associated reduction in highway traffic, the conditions were ideal for a high-speed transcontinental record attempt.
In total the trio drove 4532 kilometres in 25 hours and 39 minutes, obliterating a record set earlier during the COVID-19 pandemic by a minute shy of an hour.
A sub-28 hour Cannonball Run was once thought impossible.
In order to set the frankly astonishing time, the team had to achieve an average speed of 180km/h, which required them to have a cruising speed of between 225-257km/h.
Tabbut and Toman are well-known in Cannonball circles, having set a 27 hour and 25 minute record in late-2019 using a Mercedes-AMG E63.
Following that run, Tabbutt had ‘retired’ from Cannonball attempts at the insistence of his wife. However, when two teams that he helped scout for almost broke his record during the lockdown Tabbutt quickly realised that previously unthinkable record times could be achieved.
Ultimately, Tabbutt and Toman’s record would be bested by a previously unknown (and still anonymous) team in a ‘borrowed’ an Audi A8, with a time of 26 hours and 38 minutes.
“It was certainly hard to accept that that was how it had gone down. Just because there was no traffic and no cops, someone jumped in a car and went out and beat our time,” Tabbutt told VinWiki.
“Especially after we had spent so much time and effort, poured emotion and years of planning into beating Ed [Bolian]’s record.”
The pair realised that now was the perfect time to reclaim their crown, however previous record-setting Mercedes-AMG E63 (owned by Toman) was unfortunately destroyed in an accident when stopped on the side of the road on April 4th.
With traffic increasing and states beginning to re-open, the duo had a limited timeframe within which to complete their new record attempt (which took place in May of this year) and were now without a set of well-prepared wheels.
Initially the plan was to use a Chevrolet C7 Corvette that had made several attempts at the Cannonball Run with a previous owner.
However, Toman vetoed that plan, instead opting to organise an Audi S6 at the last minute.
The car was picked up at midday on a Tuesday, followed by a mad scramble to get it prepared to cross the United States of America at record-breaking speeds in just three days using parts scrounged, borrowed and donated from other vehicles.
The police countermeasures were donated from another of Toman’s cars, the fuel system was ripped from the crashed E63, the Corvette donated its electronics, and a CB radio was lifted from a Ford Crown Victoria.
Toman explained to VinWiki he had an ulterior motive for picking the S6 over the Corvette, with the German sedan able to be easily disguised as a Ford Taurus – used by police across the United States as a patrol car.
With Daryoush selected a designated spotter, the three-man team was ready for their record attempt, and left from the traditional Cannonball Run start of the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan.
A cohort of spotters were used across the country, with one volunteer in Pennsylvania called upon to distract two state troopers that were impeding the team’s progress.
The S6’s disguise was so effective one of the team’s mobile spotters mistook the car as a cop car on a high-speed pursuit.
“Honestly, it almost felt too easy. It didn’t even feel like this was even going to count,” Toman recalled to VinWiki.
“Across the Midwest, we were hauling. That was where we had a couple of 125mph (201km/h) averages across multiple states and could get our average [speed] to Denver up to 120mph (193km/h).”
However, the entire run wasn’t without hiccups, as the team encountered a number of issues that threatened to prevent a record time being set.
They quickly discovered that at 257km/h the S6 suffered from severe wind buffeting, resulting in the team not exceeding 281km/h during the entire run.
While at the helm, Tabbut encountered what he feared was a catastrophic steering or tyre issue.
“All of a sudden the steering was super vague, and almost uncontrollable,” he explained to VinWiki.
“I’d turn the wheel to change lanes and turn back and there would be a delay.
Turns out, it was just Audi’s lane-keep assist system.
The team’s closest call with the police was in Colorado, when a road user saw through the Audi’s disguise, and reported them to the police.
However, the team was travelling so fast the police had no chance of apprehending them.
“When they called us in, they reported us at mile marker 18,” Tabbutt explained.
“We were moving so quickly that by the time it came over the scanner transmission we were at mile marker 13 and had already passed the cop that had said he was waiting for us.”
Eventually the S6 made it to the Portofini Inn in Redondo Beach, California, obliterating the previous record by 59 minutes, and placing themselves at the top of the automotive world’s most illegal record list.
Despite this, Toman was bittersweet about the team’s COVID-19 record run.
“I gotta say, it just didn’t have the same feeling as 27:25,” he stated to VinWiki.
“When we had done 27:25, it was more about doing something that hadn’t been done, and possibly couldn’t be done.
“And 25:39, while it cements us as the fastest to ever cross the country, it just didn’t feel the same.
“You had so much less to overcome, so much less traffic, so much fewer cops.
“While it is a great achievement, it just doesn’t have the same impact that 27:25 did.”
You can watch the full video on the all-time Cannonball Run record below.