A new era of the Cannonball Run is well and truly upon us.
In the seven months since Arne Toman and Doug Tabbut set a 27 hour and 25 minute benchmark in late 2019, the benchmark for crossing America in the fastest time possible has been getting lower and lower.
A recent flurry of record attempts has lowered the outright record time to under 26 hours.
Enter Fred Ashmore – who is either a legend or insane person depending on your worldview – who has obliterated the solo Cannonball Run record, and come close to setting an outright record, by crossing the United States of America in an alleged 25 hours and 55 minutes. Ashmore has not had his GPS data for the journey verified by a third party.
Where the team that broke the record in late 2019 meticulously prepared their Mercedes-AMG E63, this most recent run was entirely ad hoc in its preparation and execution, using a rented V8 Mustang with almost 500 litres of fuel strapped into the cabin, and one crazed lunatic driving solo the entire way.
According to Road & Track, the man behind the new solo record is Fred Ashmore, a 44-year-old veteran Cannonball participant from Maine. How he broke the solo record seems almost too insane to be real.
His chariot for the cross-country blast was a Ford Mustang GT… with a catch. Turns out Ashmore didn’t own the Mustang, instead deciding to rent the vehicle.
He then pulled out the passenger seats, spare tyre and jack, and any unnecessary interior pieces, and strapped in as many extra fuel tanks as he could manage.
All up, the Mustang had a fuel capacity of around 492 litres for the journey, allowing Ashmore to stop for fuel just once on his roughly 4507km run from the Red Ball garage in Manhattan to the Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach.
To set his record time, with an average speed of 174km/h, Ashmore had to keep the 5.0-litre V8 Mustang near its maximum velocity as much as possible.
"The Mustang GT will not go any faster than 159 miles per hour [255km/h]," he told Road & Track. "Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying."
According to Ashmore, the Mustang averaged 19.6L/100km on the journey. Putting his average distance per tank at just over 2500km.
However, to minimise time spent stationary, Ashmore co-ordinated with a mobile refuelling team.
Allowing him to avoid stopping at a gas station, the mobile team were driving pick-up with 567-litres of fuel in a tank, that was able to refuel the Mustang in eight minutes.
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His only authority-dodging technology was a laser jammer system, a radar detector, a CB radio, and a tablet running Waze, Google Maps, and a timer. Despite not having a spotter, Ashmore claims he only had one close encounter with police.
All up, it is reported that Ashmore completed his run on a budget of less than A$4389 (US$3000).
According to Ashmore, he left New York at 6:00am Eastern Standard, and arrived in Los Angeles at 4:55am Pacific Standard.
It’s not the outright fastest time, with an unknown team that broke the record last month thought to have gone quicker.
Ashmore’s record has been described as “crazy” by former record holders, with Ed Bolian admiring the way the solo driver went about his Cannonball Run attempt.
"In general, the risks inherent in making a Cannonball record attempt have been managed by meticulous planning and strategy," Bolian told Road & Track.
"We have always known that throwing caution to the wind and just going as fast as possible could be another route to success. Until now, no one has been crazy enough to accept the risk, and Fred went full send."