Alarm bells over Cannonball Run
- 7th September 2006, 2:23pm
The event is being promoted by Cannonball World Events, a London-based company headed by Tim “Maverick” Porter, and is planned to run through Queensland and Victoria and one other yet-to-be-nominated Australian state.
It is planned that 75 crews, who will each pay a $10,000 entry fee, will leave the Gold Coast on May 20 for a 4,000 kilometre, six-day mystery tour where cars are required to maintain a 100kmh speed over the entire course.
But if the event does finally go ahead, authorities will be keeping a close eye on all aspects of the Cannonball Run, thanks to a calamity involving an inexperienced Japanese driver whose car left the road in a similar event in the Northern Territory in 1994, killing four people, including two event officials.
But according to Porter the event will be about fun, not speed.
“Safety is paramount to this event and in the previous six years and eight major events held in Europe, we have never had a serious accident. We believe this is due to the way we police our own event with very strict rules,” he says.
Porter went on to say that the organizers had already had a dozen “hard core” entrants from Europe interested in competing.
“That’s what keeps it fun,” he said. “You only know where you are going from checkpoint to checkpoint. The object of the event is to obtain (sic) an average speed of 100kmh over the course. You don’t have to speed. You have to abide by the local speed zones.
“We police our events very thoroughly. If someone is being a complete idiot we will know and it will be dealt with. I won’t stand for anyone putting other people’s life in danger. Racing is socially unacceptable on the road. I will show people how they can have fun without driving at 200mph, although we do those speeds in the German event on the Autobahn.”
The planned event will finish back on the Gold Coast five days after the start, the winner being offered free entry into the world title event in America in July 2007. The event, the Great American Run, is purported to be the world’s biggest-ever Cannonball with 400 cars competing a 3,000 mile coast to coast run in North America.
Organisers claim they have not yet contacted governments in the states that the event will pass through, because there was no requirement to do so, according to Porter.
“These cars are legal road cars and we’re not speeding. Do we need to contact them (the authorities)? No, but out of courtesy I think we will,” Porter added.
The 1994 Northern Territory event, organized by Alan Moffat, hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when a Japanese competitor’s Ferrari ran off the road and slammed into an official’s car at the side of the road. Four people, including two volunteer officials, were killed.
Next year’s event is touted as not requiring competitors to break the relevant state speed limits, the 100kmh average being made attainable by sub-events on race tracks along the course where competitors can make up for time lost on the road. A target time will be set for each stage and, according to Porter, all drivers have to do is match it.
The entry fee of $10,000 covers accommodation and meals for two people, and event parties around the course. Crews will be subjected to breathalisers each morning.
RallySport Magazine endeavoured to obtain CAMS’ position on the Cannonball Run, but so far have been unsuccessful.
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