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"What are you going to do about the cops?" he asked.
"What about the cops? I figure we'll have to treat them just like other road hazards; like ice, rain, snow," I said.
"Yeah, but if you get caught...."
"You know, Phil, your reaction is typical. Every guy I talk to about the Cannonball asks right away, 'What about the cops?' like they're the most fearsome thing on earth. Look at yourself. You spent half your life risking your neck in a race car, and yet the thought of getting a traffic ticket sounds worse than a 200-mph crash at Le Mans."
"That's madness, isn't it?" he said, reflectively. "I suppose we've been so preconditioned that it's a reflex action. Good God, I'm terrified about losing my driver's license. How screwed up can our priorities get?"
As the word of the Cannonball spread through the underground of the sport, more and more entries began to surface. My phone began to jangle constantly. As the originator, or Dr. Frankenstein, of the Cannonball, I was the source of unending calls from people who wanted to enter; who had entered and were dropping out; who would enter if I could find them a suitable car, or who thought the whole thing was childish madness.
Larry Opert, a Cambridge, Mass. lawyer and sometime SCCA club racer, entered with a pair of friends, but said, "Unfortunately we don't have a satisfactory car, but we'll have that problem solved by race time." He wouldn't elaborate on his plan.
Robert Perlow, a graduate student from Hofstra University on Long Island, said he was prepared to compete with his MGB-GT coupe but was having trouble finding a riding partner. Acting as a matchmaker, I rooted through the lists of interested people who had called and teamed Perlow up with Wes Dawn, a California television technician and club racer who wanted to use the Cannonball as a high-speed hitchhike to the West Coast.
Moon Trash was back in the program, despite some misadventures. An associate, Jim Williams, had crunched the front end (including the expensive quartz-iodine driving lights) in a chain collision on the West Side Drive, and Jim Stickford, Chrysler's area public-relations director, had worked long and hard to arrange for a quick repair. The new crew would be Kim Chapin, a regular contributor to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, and Steve Behr, a competent young race driver who, among other accomplishments, shared the distinction of being the highest-placed (12th) American finisher in the history of the famed Monte Carlo Rally. In phoning to announce that Moon Trash would race, Behr noted, "In the Cannonball, we'll be sneaking along trying to avoid the police. In the Monte Carlo, they stand on the side of the road and flag you through the tough spots. That says something about our philosophy on law and order, I think."
Eventually, eight teams entered the Cannonball, the last of these roaring across the country just in time to make the start. Ed Bruerton, a supermarket manager in Oakland, Calif., and his younger brother, a California college student, left their home a few days before the Cannonball, drove south to the Portofino and ran across the country in reverse as a sort of reconnaissance. Their car was a tired AMX sport coupe with 90,000 miles on the odometer.