Wednesday 17th November 1971
The inaugural 2,900 mile Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, from the Red Ball Garage in New York City to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California was won by Dan Gurney and Brock Yates in a Ferrari Daytona coupe. Gurney, the “retired” veteran of international racing, and Yates, a senior editor of Car & Driver magazine, covered the distance in 35 hours and 54 minutes. They were only 53 minutes faster than the second-place finisher, a Chevrolet Sportsvan entered by Briggs Chevrolet-Ferrari, South Ambory, New Jersey for the three co-founders of the Polish Racing Drivers of American, Tony Adamowicz, Oscar Koveleski and Brad Niemcek. The PRDA team covered the distance in 36 hours and 47 minutes.In fact, less than two hours separated the five fastest finishers, even through the event was run through rain, snow, sleet and got at various points long the routes the teams travelled.The Cannonball Baker event conceived by Yates as a whimsical gesture of defiance of the regimen of contemporary traffic laws was run without accident or injury, but the law did takes its toll.Four of the eight teams received a total of 12 speeding tickets along the route. The most remarkable among them was a citation given to Gurney in Arizona for allegedly doing 135mph in a 70mph zone. But the leading ticket-takers were the third-place finishers. Larry Opert, Ron Herisko and Nate Pritzker of Cambridge, Massachusetts, received six tickets, talked themselves out of a seventh and narrowly escaped jail for allegedly stealing gasoline at one point in their journey to California in a 1971 Cadillac – in a time of 36 hours and 56 minutes. Koveleski, a director of the Motor Racing Safety Society, pointed out that the RPDA went ticket-free “because we endeavored to remain within the speed limit at all times.” The PRDA van was equipped to run the distance without a fuel stop, having started from Manhattan at 12:11am on November 15th with 298 gallons of Gulf No-Nox on board. But the team was forced to stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico to take on 78 additional gallons of fuel. The fourth place finishers were runners-up in ticket-taking. Tom Marebut, Randy Waters and Becky Poston of Little Rock, Arkansas received four speeding tickets during the course of their 37-hour 45-minute trip.