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Two-wheeled triumph: solo ‘cannonball’ transcontinental record smashed

motorcycle connonball run record carl j  reese
Carl J. Reese
In the world of modern automotive challenges, it doesn’t get much more arduous than gunning for a record time on the Cannonball transcontinental journey, also known as the Cannonball Run. Of course, there’s a long, well-documented history of thrill-seekers besting one another over the years on this particular quest.

Hard as that trip may be, it’s nothing compared to the same feat without the wind and safety protection of a car’s shell. While less publicized, the Solo Cannonball Motorcycle run was first completed in 1914 by Irwin ‘Cannonball’ Baker in a time of 11 days and has since been a test of will. The most recent record came from George Egloff in 1983 with a time of 42 hours.

That record has now been smashed by Carl Reese on his 2015 BMW K 1600 GT. Reese covered 2,829 miles in just 38 hours with the help of a team of vehicular Cannonball record holders. Reese is also known for the official Guinness World Record for the shortest time from LA to NYC in an electric vehicle (Tesla’s Model S P85D).

Motorcycle World Record Los Angeles to New York on a BMW K1600GT

On a motorcycle, the cross-country journey was decidedly more difficult than his previous cross-country records (of which he now has seven). In preparation for this run, Reese gave up boosters like coffee, tea, and sugar.

“There is a reason this record has gone unchallenged for over 30 years. Unless you have completed Army boot camp, it is difficult to relate the mental and physical exhaustion,” said Reese. “The immense level of fatigue driving a motorcycle solo for 38 hours is like finishing a UFC fight, then getting hit by a freight train. This was far more difficult than any other transcontinental record I’ve set to date.”

Reese was aided during the trip by members of the TransContinental Drivers Association, Ed Bolian, Dave Black, Deena Mastracci, Alex Roy, and Vic Manuel.

Reese is now working on a film documentary of the history of transcontinental driving records.

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