- Oct 16, 2007
The Driver: U.S. Transcontinental rally record broken, details, debate and more
If you were scouring the interwebs yesterday, you might have come across a story about Team Polizei's record-breaking transcontinental run from New York to L.A. Our friends over at Jalopnik were present at the start and finish lines, with Spinelli seeing Alex Roy and Dave Maher off from the Classic Car Club in NYC, and Davey G. present at the Santa Monica pier when the team arrived 31 hours and four minutes later – substantially undercutting the previously record of 32:07. A Wired article went live late yesterday detailing the players, the tech and the run itself, and yours truly has been in contact with Mr. Roy as he's planned for the ensuing media blitz.
While the ethical implications of maintaining an average speed of over 90 mph over a day-and-a-half can (and will) be endlessly debated, we're here to cover, not condone. After we signed a non-disclosure agreement, we were afforded the opportunity to read Roy's book and were provided with all the meticulously maintained details of the team's high-speed excursion westward. If you're interested in the background, the story and the man behind the madness, follow the jump. If you're patently disgusted with the idea, feel free to move on to the rest of the industry news you've come to expect.
The Driver: My Dangerous Pursuit of Speed and Truth in the Outlaw Racing World, is set to go on sale in bookstores everywhere today. The release of Roy's tome, coinciding with articles in Esquire and Wired, runs right after the statute of limitations expire on the crimes committed by the driving duo in over a dozen states last October. The book itself is Roy's memoir, spanning the last five years, during which his father passed away from cancer, he was exposed to Claude Lelouch's Rendezvous, the planning of his own Lelouch-inspired high-speed run through NYC and his subsequent entrance into the exorbitantly high-stakes world of rallying.
Roy's story is compelling enough, but the onus for his adventures – the search for the illusive "Driver" and the underground racing world in which he lives – smacks of a man trying to justify an existence that would otherwise be disregarded as reckless and selfish. That said, Roy's book highlights a side of the rally world that is rarely seen; sober souls who pour meticulously over the minutia, employing the latest high-tech gadgetry to track everything from weather patterns to construction zones, and choosing vehicles based on their balance and functionality, rather than their high-visibility and even higher price tags. Research, reconnaissance, race-training and rampant risk avoidance are the essential tools to not only rally safely, but to arrive at the head of the pack. Unfortunately, it's obvious that this is a small subsect of the rallying population – most are seemingly ignorant socialites with disproportionately more money than skill, taking to the roads in hyper-exotica with limited knowledge of the risks involved and even less regard for the consequences of one misplaced wheel -- a far cry from the raison d' etre that originally inspired Brock Yates to thumb his nose at the double-nickel three decades ago.
After four years of rallying around the world under his belt, Roy tapped everyone from childhood friends to the director of 32 Hours and 7 Minutes, Cory Welles, to aid and document his run across the States. Delving into the archives procured by Welles' research for her movie, along with his own eight-day-a-week investigations, Roy's exploration of the history of rallying in the U.S. gave him a special insight into what was necessary to break the record held by the team of David Diem and Doug Turner, who ran a specially-prepped Ferrari 308 during the 1983 U.S. Express, clocking the fabled, and often contested, time of 32:07.
After one reconnaissance run that took just over 34 hours and another failed attempt caused by a clogged fuel filter on the team's 2000 E39 BMW M5, Jon Goodrich, Roy's co-driver, stepped aside and Dave Maher, the man that accompanied Roy on one of his first rallies, took up the challenge. Two years worth of research and over $150,000 was spent prepping for the high-speed assault, and Roy had every intention of documenting the trip in detail. The team of co-conspirators included a number of close friends and acquaintances, including Paul Weismann, who piloted a Cessna in a dual effort to film the drive and identify potential hazards (read: traffic, cops, etc.) along the way.
Roy, Maher and the M5 were beyond well prepared for the journey, with the driving duo overly aware of every possible nuance and scenario that could influence their trek. The BMW was outfitted with scanners, GPS navigation, a night-vision camera and a number of other technologies that we'll be covering in more detail later in the week.
When the team arrived at the Santa Monica pier in Los Angeles, they had traveled 2,795 miles, breaking enough traffic laws to suspend their licenses in 13 states more times than we, and you, have fingers and toes to count. According to Roy, the run could be confirmed through the use of GPS tracking, gas and toll receipts, real-time video that was shot both outside and within the M5, along with the assembled eyewitnesses to the event. Naturally, no authoritative body will confirm any of this, as certifying something so patently illegal would open the floodgates of unimaginable legal repercussions.
We're still amazed that such a feat was accomplished given the congested roads we're forced to endure on a daily basis. But Roy and Maher, utilizing every advantage in their arsenal and untold amounts of planning have done it. 31 hours and four minutes stands as the new record, and the debate about its purpose and meaning has officially begun.
The Man - Team Polizei
The Movie - 32 Hours and 7 Minutes
The Maps - Wired Tracks the Trek with the help of Alex Roy and Google Earth
The History - Will Wright's Run