Hear about Yates’ inspiration for the Cannonball race in the latest Hagerty Sidedrafts podcast
Most of us have seen, or at least heard of, The Cannonball Run, the 1981 movie caper about a coast-to-coast road race from New York to California. The film is based on The Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, a real-life speed trial conceived by Brock Yates (who also wrote the film script) and documented in the pages of Car and Driver.
What history has largely forgotten, however, is where Yates got his inspiration. Racer Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker was known for cross-country time records on motorcycles and, later, in cars. And his most memorable record—at the wheel of a 1932 Graham 8 Sedan known as “Blue Streak”—stood for 40 years.
Designed by Amos Northup, the Blue Streak pioneered numerous features including a low-slung frame and aerodynamic body that turned automotive styling on its head. The Graham was one of the most copied cars of the 1930s, but it is largely a footnote today. In the latest Hagerty Sidedrafts podcast, Larry Webster sits down with the President of the Historic Vehicle Association, Mark Gessler, as he tells the tale of this fascinating automobile.
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