Mercedes E63 AMG Crosses U.S.A. in 27 Hours, 25 Minutes


2015 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sedan

Arne Toman/Doug Tabbutt via YouTube

  • A legendary event much associated with Car and Driver’s past history is the Cannonball Baker cross-country race, which originated in the early ’70s, originally known as the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash.
  • The standing record for getting from New York to Los Angeles has just been broken by an intrepid trio in a 2015 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sedan, as described in detail by our friends at Road & Track.
  • Arne Toman, Doug Tabutt, and Berkeley Chadwick made the trip in 27 hours and 25 minutes, smashing a record last set in 2013.

    You might think that modern automobiles with their powerful engines, advanced technologies, and creature comforts could get from New York to Los Angeles in less than 30 hours in the hands of just about anyone with a strong bladder and a stronger drive to do so.

    You’d be wrong. Since two guys—Ed Bolian and Dave Black—last accomplished the feat in 28 hours, 50 minutes back in 2013, nobody has been able to.

    Until November 2019, that is. The trio of Arne Toman, Doug Tabutt, and Berkeley Chadwick made it from the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan to the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, near Los Angeles, in 27 hours and 25 minutes.

    What’s with the odd start and end locations? Those spots entered the annals of auto-enthusiast history way back in the early ’70s when Car and Driver’s Brock Yates originated the event as the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. His son, Brock Yates Jr., congratulates the new record holders in the video below, quipping, “Good God, I don’t know how you did it.”

    How did they do it? As Road & Track details, Toman and Tabutt, the drivers (with Chadwick as their spotter), averaged 103 mph and only stopped for a total of 22.5 minutes for fuel. Their total elapsed distance of 2825 miles covered I-80 as far as Nebraska, then I-76 to Denver, then I-70 into Utah, and finally, I-15 into greater Los Angeles. As we don’t need to explain, the speeds they traveled were not a bit legal on any of those roads.


    Arne Toman/Doug Tabbutt via YouTube

    The AMG was specially outfitted for the record attempt, starting with upgraded turbochargers and intercoolers and other equipment to increase the car’s output to a claimed 700 horsepower. The guys also fitted several pieces of equipment intended to flummox the police including a CB, two radar detectors, a laser jammer, a thermal night scope, and an aircraft collision avoidance system (to help them find highway-patrolling aircraft, R&T explains). The AMG’s carbon-fiber trim was covered with silver vinyl, and the taillights were covered in such a way that made the car look like an eighth-generation Honda Accord from the rear at night.


    The team signed several of these speed-limit signs and are selling them, with profits to support the Brock Yates Tribute Fund.

    Arne Toman/Doug Tabbutt via YouTube

    With all that technological help, the team still counted on nearly 20 lookout scouts who stood by to let them know about road hazards, including possible traffic police, along their route.

    Did they have some dicey moments? Definitely. Should you try to beat that time? That’s up to you, but there’s one thing for sure: these guys have just lived the story they’ll be telling their grandchildren someday. Read the entire story over on Road & Track, and hear the drivers tell about it in this video.

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