The Cannonball Cockpits

Before there were “Cannonball Cockpits” there was James Bond and his Bond Cars with their nifty spy gearAston_Martin_DB5_Interior and of course the Batmobiles which could outrun anyone, do just about anything and there was always a cool gadget just a button press away.


Batman Returns

Batman Forever

There have been as many Cannonball interior setups as there have been cars of course and there were a few cars that ran with little or no enhancements. As 1972 Cannonball Run winner Yogi Behr once said “ the only thing we changed was the radio station.” There have been “built on the fly last minute” improvements that were assembled on the street just before the race in some cases. As in this Contender in The 2904 Transcontinental Motorized Vehicular Tournament of Efficiency and Endurance’s 2015 event. Audi CockpitOther cars have been purpose built for one thing and one thing only: To get from here to there as fast as possible stopping as few times as possible whether it be for petrol, peeing or police. Here’s a few of the early setups and some of the better ones through the years.

The First Cannonball winner won by default. No one showed up except them. But Brock Yates had equipped his 1971 Dodge Van with Scheel bucket seats, a small racing style steering wheel, Cibie driving lights, a Fiamm air horn, a map reading light, a non working police receiver, a small refrigerator, and a useless Radar Sentry radar detector.

The Second Cannonball winner, the Ferrari Daytona, was completely stock except for a few sponsor stickers.


The Third Cannonball Run winner was another completely stock car but had a 2nd place car that was purpose built with the latest gadgetry and performance enhancements. As Brock put it in his article about the Challenger: “Here are a few inside tips toward building the best, American Genre, Interstate GT car in order to get your doors blown off by a dead-stock Cadillac.”


He added extra gauges to keep an eye on engine, toggle switches for the fuel pumps to the fuel cell and Cibie lights, Scheel GT buckets seats for driving comfort, a map light, a Snooper Radar Detector, a solid state Car Phone and a Halda MK-V Speed-pilot rally computer. Pretty bland by today’s standards but pretty State of the Art in 1972.

IMG_7032 IMG_7033



The next car in a Cross Country Competition of note that went above and beyond what had become standard fare for a long distance brawler was the Mazda RX-7 of Richard Doherty and Will Wright in the 1983 US Express Race. But what do you expect from a couple of early computer guru’s?

These are the things we know about although its been rumored these guys had some other custom electronics that they built themselves and if the government knew about them, they would would be VERY unhappy about it. They had a fuel cell, refrigerator, a Zemco Compucruise Z-28 automobile computer, CompuCruise-01s2 radar detectors, a police scanner hidden in the glove box, night vision scopes, a radar emitter to set off competitors radar detectors, head sets with mic’s to communicate with each other so they didn’t have to shout at high speeds, a radar/speedometer control box that could jam radar, a 40 channel CB and an audio control box that you could toggle what you wanted to hear through the headset: either the scanner or the CB with one ear piece always dedicated to the other driver. Pretty advanced stuff. Remember, this was the year Windows 1.0 came out, Apple had just released the first computer with a GUI, it’s Lisa computer, and if you didn’t speak DOS, you did not compute.

The next level of advancement came a few decades later with that Bad Boy Alex Roy and his carefully conceived uber tech gadgetry obsession which he honed through long years of being a professional speeder. His list is so extensive, I won’t even take time to type it all out… copy and paste is my friend and this is right from his website Although his setup is enough to make James Bond jealous, it changes from time to time depending on the type of competition he is involved in. For the NY to LA single car record he did in 2006, there was a ground to air radio somewhere in the mix for the spotter plane.Alex Roy interior Alex BMW

Polizei 144A

2000 E39 BMW M5

L-3 Communications NightDriver thermal camera (Front Bumper Mounted) w/2x Alpine 7” LCD dash-mouted displays
1x Center Console Mounted Speedometer, slaved to wheelspin
1x Valentine One radar/laser detector
2x Blinder M40 Laser Jammer Systems, 1pr each mounted in front & rear bumpers
3x Garmin StreetPilot 2650/2730/2820 GPS units, 2 cockpit mounted, 1 rear passenger console mounted
1x Garmin StreetPilot 7500 GPS, 1 front passenger console mounted
1x Uniden BC396T digital radio scanner
1x Uniden BC996D digital radio scanner
1x Uniden BCT8 analog trunk tracking scanner
1x Uniden Pro BC520XL CB Radio
2x 4ft Antennex Radio Aerials, trunklid-mounted
2x 2ft Antennex Custom-Tuned Scanner Aerials, one trunklid-mounted, one roof-mounted
1x Custom-Programmable Whelen Commander Lighting/Siren/PA Controller
1x Brake light kill switch/Rear Running kill switch
2pr Red/Yellow/Green/Blue LED strobes (front grille/rear headliner)
2pr corner Whelen white strobes (headlights/brake lights)
1x Fire Extinguisher
1x Custom-made trunk-mounted 20 gallon fuel cell
1x Beastpower Motorsports Driver-seat camera mount
2x Chasecam Video Pencil Cameras, Front & Rear Bumper-Mounted
1x Tasco 8 x 40mm Binoculars with a Kenyon KS-2 Powered Gyroscopic Stablilzer
1x Steiner 7 x 50 (Military) Low-Light Spotter Binoculars


Ed Bolian, mild mannered insane person, (to plagiarize Tavarish) came along a few years later and built off of what the Godfather of Modern Transcon Runs had done. Utilizing some of Alex’s ideas and some of the advanced tech that was available seven years later, Bolian, after some 10 years of planning, built the ultimate Cannonball Car. Tall claim? Yes. But no one has beat him and until they do, this is how he did it.CL55 AMG

Start out with a well seasoned 115,000 mile 2004 Mercedes CL55 AMG and add the following:

  • Valentine 1 Radar/Laser Detector x 2
  • Passport/Escort Radar/Laser Detector & Diffuser
  • Laser Interceptor Laser Diffuser/Jammer
  • 2 x Garmin GPS Units with XM Traffic
  • 3 x iPhone Cradles with Chargers
  • iPad Cradle and Charger
  • Satellite Tracking Device
  • Uniden Police Scanner with GPS & Radio Antenna
  • Cobra 29 CB Radio with K40 Antenna
  • Toll passes for the pertinent areas
  • 2 x 2 Gallon Auxiliary Fuel Cells with Transfer Pumps
  • Custom Switch Panel with kill switch for rear lights, fuel pump control, power to all devices, Passport & LI Controls
  • Power Inverter with Outlets in Center Console
  • Full Size Spare
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Full Size Hydraulic Jack
  • Cooler
  • A few things that we won’t talk about here!

Drive like a Bat out of Hell for 2811 miles. Viola! Easy as calculating multi differential equations containing unknown variable functions and their partial derivatives in your head.

That was such a good recipe, he repeated a version of it a few years later to build another Benzo to beat a record that had been held since 1983 by a sporty little Ferrari in the last US Express race. This time with a 2002 Mercedes S55 AMG and a misers budget, Ed beat the fastest time in a cross country race by just 2 minutes. Here’s some of the Go-Fast enablers he used:S55 AMG

Extra Fuel Capacity, Ipads and Iphones running various tracking and spotting apps, CB, HID Lights, Valentine 1, Escort Laser Jammer, Laser Interceptor Jammer, EZ Pass for Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Oklahoma Pikepass, a Third Party GPS/Cellular Tracking Device, 2 Garmin GPS units and a few other things.

The ultimate Cross Country Cannonball Car, as dreamed up by Alex Roy and Greg Ledet for their April Fools day joke, would consist of the following:April Fools

A 2014 Infiniti Q50 with Driveline Swap-out w/2014 Nissan GT-R
654 Horsepower on Mild Tune, 850+ on Full Boost
55 Gallon Fuel Cell for Total 75 Gallon E85 Capacity w/Twin Feeds
Range: 1000-1200 miles
Duplicate Steering Wheel/Pedal Set in Front Passenger Seat For On-The-Fly Driver Swaps
Custom Ceiling-Mounted, Electrically-Actuated, Gyro-Stabilized Observation System w/Roof Pass-Through, including Helmet w/FLIR & LL Overlay to Optics For Rear Passenger
Custom Magnetorheological Self-Leveling Suspension System
Brembo Carbon Ceramic brakes
3x FLIR Night Vision cameras
4x Low-Light Video Cameras
2x Vertex Air-to-Ground Radios
1x Aircraft Proximity Warning System
3x Valentine 1 Radar/Laser Detectors
1x Custom-Built Laser Diffuser/Jammer System (Front/Rear)
5x Garmin GPS Units with XM Traffic
4x iPhone 6 Cradles & Chargers
2x iPad Air Cradles & Chargers
2x iPad Mini 3 Cradles & Chargers
3x Satellite Tracking Devices
2x Uniden Police Scanners w/External Antennas
2x Uniden CB Radio
2x Chemical Smoke Generators
Radar-Absorbent Paint
Anti-Laser Headlight Coating

The following pics don’t warrant a lot of discussion even though most of them are World Record Holders, but I include them to show just a few of the ways various guys have built their cockpits that suits them best.

Dennis Collins/ Richard Rawlings Ferrari which ran the Cannonball Route in 31:59Rawlings Collins

The Manuel/Farmer 325i BMW during their I-10 Record Breaking Run of 26:19Manuel

The 1973 Cadillac of Ben “Charlie Safari” Wilson from the 2015 C2C NY2LA Cannonball route run. Note the Magic Hula Girl. All the cool kids have them. And they are a +25 endurance modifier.Charlie Ben WilsonGreg Ledet’s current BMW setup which is to say it’s not the exact same setup they used for their 2013 Cannonball Route run of 31:17IMG_7028The underdog contenders of AMS Performance from The 2904 run of 2015 in their Crown Vic with a NY2LA time of 33:03Arne cockpitThe Solo Champion of the World for Transcon and Cannonball Route, David Simpson’s Terlingua Racing Team Mustang Setup which ran the J-town to Dog Beach I-10 run in 27:49.  With Magic Hula Girl (+25 Endurance) and St. Barbara: Patron Saint of People doing Dangerous Things. (+25 Luck)Mustang Cockpit