Ed Bolian: the man who broke the Trans-American Automobile Crossing Record

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Ed Bolian, who is the sales director for Lamborghini of Atlanta, claims to have broken the record for the crossing the country in a car. The new record is 28 hours and 50 minutes, crushing the previous record of 31 hours 4 minutes. Ed broke the record in 2012, but is just now talking about the epic run.

We are probably all familiar with the movie “The Cannonball Run”. The classic 70’s movie highlights a wacky race from Manhattan in New York to Redondo Beach in California. What you might not know is the movie is based on an actual race Pioneered by Ed “Cannonball” Baker. The real race however features a lot less of Adrienne Barbeau in a silk jumpsuit. The original race was run in 1933, prior to the creation of the interstate system, the record was set at 53 hours at an average of 50 miles per hour. This record stood for 40 years. In the 70’s, a memorial race called the Cannonball Run managed to establish a new record. When the Cannonball stopped being run the record was 32 hours 51 minutes. In the 80’s a similar event called the US Express established the new record of 32 hours 7 minutes. That record stood for 20 years until Alex Roy broke the record in 2006 at 32 hours and 4 minutes. Many attempts have been made to break Alex’s record, but they have failed.

Now, let’s be clear here. This race is in no way legal or sanctioned by any governing body. In order to cross America in the record time, you will have to have a fast car and a led foot, and a little luck keeping out of the grasp of the long arm of the law. It is no wonder that when the record is being attempted that the car list resembles a wish list of super cars.

Preparation for this race is a little more involved than dressing up like a priest, kissing a few girls, and downing a few shots of scotch, before embarking on the journey. Unlike Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Ed spent years planning his record breaking run.

Ed carefully thought about the vehicle he was going to use. Weighing power and speed against fuel mileage and comfort. Ed considered Ferraris and Bentleys before ending up on his choice of the Mercedes CL55. The CL55 has active suspension which came in handy when Ed installed two 22 gallon fuel cells in the trunk. Include the factory gas tank and this gave Ed a 67 gallon capacity, 400 pounds of added weight in the trunk , a range of 800 miles and constant smell of fuel. The location of the tanks allowed for all three tanks to be filled at the same time, maximizing the few gas stops. One seat was removed from the rear to make space for the recently displace spare tire. A giant CB antenna mounted to the trunk helped Ed pose as a trucker.

Ed was a little smarter than just relying on his wits. Technology played a big role in this record too. The interior of the car was a virtual command center. Ed employed two Garmin GPS units with traffic capabilities. Two iPhones and one iPad, with mounted chargers, were used to run applications like Trapster. There were two laser jammers mounted on the car. Plans for a radar jammer didn’t get completed on time. Switches were installed to kill all the lights, and control the extra tanks.

Unlike Kowalski in the movie “Vanishing Point”, Ed knew that he was not going to be able to make this trip by himself with just a handful of pills. Ed started looking for a team. Surprisingly, the idea of numerous speeding tickets and jail time really turns people off of setting an unofficial world record that you can never brag about. Two weeks before the run Ed still had no crew. He was eventually able to recruit Dave Black and Dan Huang. Serving as lookouts, navigators and drivers, the team almost fell apart during a test run, after they were pulled over for an illegal right hand turn.

They team stuck together and started the run. On October 19, 2012 they left the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan. They immediately hit traffic and it took them 15 minutes to get out of Manhattan. The rest of the run was fairly uneventful. One incident of passing a parked police car at 95 MPH resulted in no action from the police. Another incident where the car became slightly airborne also did not deter them from their goal. On Sunday October 20th, 2012 the team pulled into the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, California. Reeking of gasoline, they beat the record by 2 hours and 14 minutes. The team covered 2813.7 miles at an average speed of 98 MPH. Proving you don’t need a high end super car to beat the record, the top speed of Ed’s CL55 was a mere 156 MPH.

The best tool that Ed employed was his brain, and not just in planning. Ed hired a GPS tracking service to track his run. With 218 pages of logs that verify his claim and his every move. The naysayers will have a hard time discounting that Ed and his team have truly broken the record.

Congratulations to Ed Bolin, Dave Black and Dan Huang for their triumph! If you want to impress me though, you are going to have to do this run on a motorcycle with a fake pregnant woman putting your motorcycle in to a permanent wheelie.