Road Track first broke the news that cross country racers Arne Toman and Doug Tabutt, along with spotter Berkely Chadwick, left New York City’s Red Ball Garage just after midnight on Nov. 10 in a modified Mercedes-Benz sedan and drove to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, Calif. — the same start and finish points used during the first “Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash” in 1971.
They weren’t taking part in a competition, although both drivers had before. Toman tells Fox News Autos that he’s made the run five times during illicit transcontinental events, but this time it was a solo effort specifically designed to break a record set in 2013, when Ed Bolian, Dave Black and Dan Huang completed the route in 28 hours 50 minutes, which was over two hours faster than the previous best time.
Arne Toman and Doug TabuttJR Photon
Toman has a background in the performance car business and now runs an Illinois CNC machine shop and a clothing company called Crook County. He chose a silver 2015 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG for the trip that he removed the badges from and strategically covered with tape to make it look as nondescript as possible, while tuning it to 700 hp and installing a fuel cell in the tank for extended range between fill-ups.
Toman also added an array of electronic law enforcement countermeasures – radar detectors, laser jammers, police scanner, etc. – that included a thermal imaging camera mounted to a gimbal on the roof that was used to look for police cars parked on the side of the road. Waze and an “underground” speed trap app provided crowdsourced intelligence, while 18 scout vehicles rendezvoused with them at points along the way to drive up ahead and check for speed traps, traffic and other obstacles.
They followed the so-called northern route along I-80, I-76, I-70 and I-15 at an average speed of 103 mph, and hit a top speed of 193 mph at an undisclosed location.
Toman said it was an uneventful 2,825-mile drive without any close calls, as far as accidents are concerned.
“Anyone who’s done it realizes how safely it can be done,” Toman said. “We’re not passing on the shoulder. You try not to negatively affect anybody on the road. Drawing attention just gets you called into the police.”
The only time they almost got caught was when a patrol car traveling in the opposite direction painted them with an instant-on radar, but they weren’t pursued.
Several of their colleagues from the cross-country racing scene, including Bolian, offered their congratulations in a video posted to the VINwiki YouTube channel.
Toman said he’s not too worried about any law enforcement agency gathering the evidence needed to issue any violations postmortem. Just in case, he’ll be waiting a year to release any potentially incriminating video of the feat.
Which will be his last. The 44-year-old married father of two said he’s retiring from this sort of thing.