November 13 1972
Nixon was in the White house again after a huge landslide victory, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed over 1,000 that week for the first time and Pepsi started selling it’s fizzy beverage to the Soviet Union. Johnny Cash was the top of the charts, Bruce Lee at the movies, Johnathan Livingston Seagull was the best selling book and Atari just released Pong for home entertainment.
The cost of gas was .55 cents any you could buy a new Ford Pinto for $2,078 so it was high time to have another mad cap caper across the county!!!!!!
The third running of the Cannonball had 33 entries, 25 of them crossing the finish line. The event was definitely getting bigger
with coverage in Car and Driver, Hot Rod and nearly all of the motor publications of the day. Many of the cars actually had
sponsors and were stickered up, much to their detriment in Arizona.
It was a strange group of cars, including one of the more famous Cannonball cars, the Cotton Owens prepared Challenger piloted by Brock Yates. There is a good article about it here: http://www.cottonowens.com/archives/Cannonball_Run.php
There was a small block Vega driven by the PRDA, a Pantera, a Volkswagen powered kit car, a Pinto, and the Cadillac limousine that was in the only semi serious accident of any Cannonball ever ran. It was driven by an all girl team and they rolled over in the desert outside of El Paso when one of the drivers fell asleep. No serious injuries, but the car was out of the race.
The third place winners, driving a Mercedes 280 SEL, wore priests frocks but that did not help them avoid a ticket in Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, the police had been alerted by some of the high speed shenanigans and there was a road block at the Arizona-New Mexico border. A number of the ‘Ballers were pulled over to the side, being detained for lengthy periods as an object lesson but Yogi, in the plain Caddy and “Flying Fathers” in their priest getups and the plain brown Mercedes rolled right on through.
The most audacious winners of any Cannonball has to be Steve “Yogi” Behr and crew in a 1973 Cadillac Coupe DeVille that was
contracted to them by a drive away company to be driven in a sedately manner From Detroit to LA. Needless to say, they broke
nearly every stipulation of the agreement AND every motoring law on the books!
It had a big Caddy 500 under the hood but still the top end was only 105 MPH. It was completely stock. No CB, no fuel cell, no
radar detector. As Yogi once said ” The only thing we changed was the radio station”.
They left the Red Ball in a driving rain with subtropical storm Delta trying to become a full blown hurricane and aquaplaned
that big hunk of Detroit Steel half way across the nation before they finally out ran it.
They won with a time of 37:16, averaging 78.04 MPH, a full hour slower than the previous years winner but also becoming the only American car to ever win a Cannonball Race.
Yogi also came back in 1981 and piloted a new 928 Porsche from New York to LA by himself in 46 hours, breaking Cannonball Bakers record of 53:30 and he held the solo record for 29 years until it was broken by Carl Valentine Dietz in 2010 with a blistering dash from NY to SF in 37:35, averaging 75 MPH.
1 1973 Cadillac Coupe DeVille 37:16
2 1972 Dodge Challenger 37:26
3 Mercedes SEL 37:33
4 Pantera 38:02
5 Alfa Romeo Guilia Sedan 38:37
6 Mazda RX-2 39:29
7 Chevrolet Vega 39:35
8 AMC AMX 39:42
9 Chrysler 40:11
10 Chevy Van 40:55
11 Ford Torino 41:01
12 Chevrolet Vega 41:06
13 AMC Hornet 41:15
14 Datsun 510 41:41
15 Citroen DS19 42:08
16 Ford Van 43:02
17 Ford Torino 43:28
18 Bradley GT 43:45
19 Travco Motor Home 44:42
20 Ford Mustang 44:54
21 Opel Rallye 45:39
22 Opel Rallye 46:17
23 Ford Pinto 47:28
24 Datsun 240Z 48:25
25 Chevrolet Corvette 57:19
Chevrolet Vega Kammback DNF
Cadillac Limousine DNF
Porsche 911 DNF
Chevrolet Monte Carlo DNF
Austin Healy DNF
Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 DNF
1951 Studebaker DNF
Honda 600 DNF