Fast-track Road Trip

Cross-country road trips serve as a right of passage — one of the few memorable and transformational experiences that almost anyone can do (we’re not talking about hiking the Appalachian Trail here). It can be a remarkable experience: have a pint at a rural dive-bar, detour on the historic Route 66, spend the night at a college dormitory, eat breakfast at truck-stops, and, most importantly, just enjoy the ride. So, what’s the rush?

Roy’s memoir, The Driver: My Dangerous Pursuit of Speed and Truth in the Outlaw Racing World, will hit bookstores this week, serving dual purposes. For one, its narrative proffers the backstory to Team Polizei, the Teutonic-themed guise Roy derived for the Gumball rally in 2003. Perhaps more important, at least for automotive information junkies, is the formal declaration it’ll issue. And this is it: Roy and co-driver Dave Maher last year raced from New York City to Santa Monica Pier – a total of 2,795 miles across 13 states — in a 2000 BMW M5, arriving after 31 hours, 4 minutes on the road. If accepted by the community of rally cohorts who scrutinize such matters, that time will best all other such records of lore, the most recent clocked this past May, when rivals Richard Rawlings and Dennis Collins claimed a time of 31 hours, 59 minutes from New York City to Redondo Beach, California in a black Ferrari 550. It also dramatically undercuts the celebrated record of 32 hours, 7 minutes set by David Diem and Doug Turner, winners of the 1983 US Express.

The New York Times has more, including a photo:

The message came across the police scanner in October 2006 as Alexander Roy was driving his 2000 BMW M5 west on Interstate 44 in Oklahoma: “I have a report of a blue BMW speeding, weaving in and out of traffic and driving recklessly. Be advised.”

Roy said he heard it shortly after he and his co-driver, David Maher, had been exceeding 150 miles an hour. As Maher scanned the prairie through binoculars for a place to hide, the car’s radar detectors lighted up. They decided to exit the highway and feign a bathroom break while a support team in a Cessna overhead searched for the speed trap that would inevitably materialize.

Having temporarily escaped, Roy eased back onto the highway. As he approached two state police vehicles waiting on the median, he ducked to the right of a tractor-trailer in a move he called “the cross-country racer’s ideal police line-of-sight blocking position.”

You can check out a detailed “driveplan” here. They made a total of only five fuel stops, thanks to a reserve fuel tank, as part of the gear.

The gear is all bought and loaded. Twenty packs of Nat Sherman Classic Light cigarettes, check. Breath mints, check. Glucose and guarana, Visine and riboflavin, Gatorade and Red Bull, mail-order porta-pissoir bags of quick-hardening gel, check.

Randolph highway patrol sunglasses, 20-gallon reserve fuel tank, Tasco 8 x 40 binoculars fitted with a Kenyon KS-2 gyro stabilizer, military spec Steiner 7 x 50 binoculars, Hummer H1-style bumper-mounted L-3 Raytheon NightDriver thermal camera and LCD dashboard screens, front-and-rear-mounted sensors for a Valentine One radar/laser detector, flush bumper-mount Blinder M40 laser jammers, redundant Garmin StreetPilot 2650 GPS units, preprogrammed Uniden police radio scanners, ceiling-mount Uniden CB radio with high-gain whip antenna. Check. Check. Check.

The car’s modifications:

So, this isn’t just an average road-trip on speed. In fact, Roy and his team were breaking a record originally set back in 1971. Still, I’d still prefer my lazy journey and lots of Fast Food breaks.

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