My op-eds “Cannonball Run Founder Dies, New “Cannonball Run” Spits on His Grave” & “New “Cannonball Run” Spits on Founder Brock Yates’ Grave, Part Deux” have proven quite popular, so popular that two Reddit threads are filled with overwhelming supportive posts of my opinion.
What’s strange is that the second Reddit thread has had several supportive comments deleted.
I guess someone didn’t like what I had to say. I wonder who deleted the above thread, and why?
It takes a lot of nerve to spit on a dead man’s grave, especially when his body is still warm. When that man is Cannonball Run founder Brock Yates — the most important person in American automotive history who never ran a car company — it takes someone lacking in basic decency, with no respect for the man or his monumental contribution to car culture.
As I write this, several dozen sports cars are on their way from Lenox, Massachusetts to Key West, Florida, where they will abandon their cars, have a party, then fly to Havana for another party.
Their achievement? A celebration of exploitation, ignorance and commoditized gravitas. Their transgression? Calling their event the Cannonball Run.
Theirs may not be a legal crime — lawyers are allegedly exchanging letters — but it is without any doubt a cultural one, for which they should be held accountable. If you see a car manufactured after 1979 with “Cannonball Run” stickers, it is on an event that is the enemy of everything Brock Yates stood for, and of American car culture itself.
Read the rest over at The Drive…
Brock Yates — automotive legend, former editor of Car and Driver, race car driver, founder of the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea-Memorial Trophy Dash (a.k.a. The Cannonball Run) and One Lap of America, writer of The Cannonball Run and Smokey and The Bandit II, best-selling author of 20 books including Cannonball!, Enzo Ferrari: The Man and the Machine, Sunday Driver and Against Death & Time, godfather of speeding andgirls in supercars wearing purple zip-up pantsuits, patron saint of non-violent & unprofitable crimes, enemy of sloth, cowardice, taxes, and the 55mph speed limit, ambassador of internal combustion both foreign and domestic, human icepick in the face of convention, beloved outlaw, the man who changed Cannonball from noun to verb, launched a thousand radar detector sales and was solely responsible for 100% of Lamborghini Countach sales between 1981 and 1990 — died yesterday at the age of 82 due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
It is too soon to write at length about Yates’ almost incalculable contributions to car culture. I would argue that he was the most important person in American automotive history who never ran a car company.
If you have to ask why, then, like jazz… You’ll never know.
But you should know, starting with this excerpt from his August 1971 Car & Driver column, in which Yates explains why he organized the first Cannonball Run:
Read the rest over at The Drive…
The true story of the Cannonball Run is mostly limited to its wiki page and Brock Yates‘ book. Luckily, Andrew Fails of RightFootDown has assembled this great article from interviews with myself and Ed Bolian. The only good article on the topic in years.