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Breaking Cannonball EV Autonomous Record Is Now Impossible! Or Is It?

By Carl Reese

Photo Credit Carl Reese
Photo Credit      Carl Reese

January 10th 2016

Last month, I warned our readers that changes were coming from Telsa Motors. Specifically, to the autopilot feature.  Changes that would make it impossible to break the “Autonomous EV Record”.   Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Yesterday the rumored 7.1 software update from Telsa Motors was released.   Among the new features in the latest release, are some serious restrictions to the “AutoPilot” feature.  This should come as no surprise of you that read my TDA article in December.

First, lets talk about the good news.  Owners can now “Summon” their car with a key fob from 39′ away.   Videos hitting the net today reveal it the features in action.  As promised from Elon Musk last year, the car will also open your automatic garage door and pull out of the garage.

Now for the BAD NEWS! ……..Before you download 7.1 you should know it will disable your ability to break the Autonomous EV Record.


 Once you have updated, you can’t go back. So let this be a warning to those  assembling a “dream team”.   to beat the autopilot record. You may want to skip this latest update!  I will tell you how.

First lets talk about what it’s going to do to Autopilot.  Version 7.1 places some heavy restrictions on autopilot.   If you accept this update you will not be able to activate autopilot unless there is a center barrier.  WHAT?  Say good-bye to surface street autopilot for now.  Even worse, you will not be able to set it above 5 mph over the posted speed limit.

I’m not sure to thank Tesla, or curse them.  The offered update will make it impossible for anyone to break the “Autonomous EV Record”.  On the other hand you can’t get the summoning feature without accepting the autopilot neuter.  If you read my earlier post (back in Dec 2015) you already knew this was coming.

How can you preserve your chances at setting the record? 

The 7.1 comes as a OTA (over the air) update. This update does not require you to a visit a Tesla service center. These updates happen over your home WIFI connection.  To prevent the download simply go into the cars setting and turn off the WIFI.  These updates require large bandwidth, therefore TelsaMotors doesn’t use LTE or 3G for updates.

Having the ability to summon your car with your key fob is quite cool.  However, if you rather have an “Autopilot” that can have the ability to cruise at “freeway speeds”, skip this update.

For more information about Carl Reese, visit or

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Cannonball Refueling While Moving, Now A Reality

By Carl Reese

If you hang around the Cannonball community long enough,  the topic of “in-air  refueling” is bound to come up.  An idea that you can refuel the car while on the move.  The term is borrowed from the Airforce, that refuels planes while they are still in the air.

Just last summer Carl Day and myself spoke about two separate refueling ideas we had to minimize fuel stops for motorcycle cross country trips.

While Ed Bolian and Dave Black whom currently hold the New York to Los Angeles in a petrol car, opt to simply carry extra fuel-cells to minimize gas stops.   You may laugh, but the cannonball community has discussed this for years.  The thought of refueling while traveling has been a hot topic since Alex Roy joked about it in the documentary 32 Hours 7 Minutes.

The idea of refueling on the go, is not an original idea.  Aircraft have been refueling during flight, since 1923.

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First mid-air refueling on June 27, 1923

The Air Force has made many improvements over the years, and now uses the KC-135 AKA “Stratotanker” for refueling fighter jets in the air.

This military refueling technique was a major factor when designing my fuel cell that was built for the  record BMW motorcycle run.   Though the fuel cell was totally capable of refueling on the fly, I did not incorporate the technique.  Mainly because I didn’t want to catch fire and die.  We worked hard to improved the design to minimize the risk factor considerably. Unfortunately  the factor was not ZERO.

In the end, I was more concerned for the team pumping gas into the fuel cell. For that reason, I felt that no record was worth setting my friends on fire.

One of my team members Matt Nordenstrom sent me this video of Mark Miller.  Mark used this refueling method back in 2004 during the Baja 1000.   Of course it was outlawed from the Baja 1000 the following year.

Dan Reeves and I had many discussions about how best to set up my Sprinter van to be the mule that would supply gas to the donor vehicle.

Unknown to us at the time, someone had already done it.  Proving great minds think alike, a Sprinter van had successfully refueled a GTR while going 85 MPH around a track back around 2 years ago.

This proves what my team knew last summer…Refueling a car on the fly is possible.

For more information about Carl Reese, visit or

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Carl Reese Breaks Solo Cannonball Motorcycle Record from LA to NYC in 38 hours, 49 minutes



Planned documentary to showcase trip footage and highlight the history of U.S. transcontinental records

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 27, 2016)—Carl Reese of Santa Clarita, California broke the solo cannonball motorcycle record from Los Angeles to New York City in 38 hours, 49 minutes. Reese completed the 2,829-mile feat on a 2015 BMW K 1600 GT six-cylinder motorcycle, breaking George Egloff’s previous record of 42 hours set in 1983.

Carl_J_ReeseNo one in history, with the exception of Erwin “Cannonball” Baker himself, has set as many cross-country records in such a short period than Reese and his team. Reese set six records in under seven months from April through October 2015, including the official Guinness World Record for the shortest charging time from Los Angeles to New York City in an electric vehicle. In October 2015, Reese and two other drivers set the first semi-autonomous driving record from Los Angeles to New York City in 57 hours, 48 minutes in a Tesla Model S P85D.

“There is a reason this record has gone unchallenged for over 30 years. Unless you have completed Army boot camp, it is difficult to relate the mental and physical exhaustion,” said Reese. To prepare his body, he gave up all stimulants before the run, including coffee, tea and sugar. “The immense level of fatigue driving a motorcycle solo for 38 hours is like finishing a UFC fight, then getting hit by a freight train. This was far more difficult than any other transcontinental record I’ve set to date.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 11.47.15 PMReese is now working with Hollywood-based filmmakers to produce a documentary highlighting the history of transcontinental driving records. The production team is seeking funds to complete the documentary. The documentary trailer can be viewed on YouTube and donations made on Indiegogo. Transcontinental driving records date back more than 100 years, when “Cannonball” Baker drove an Indian motorcycle from Los Angeles to New York City in 11 days. Historians attribute interest around such trips to advancements in transportation and manufacturing in the U.S.

The BMW K 1600 GT used was acquired from West Valley Cycle Sales in Winnetka, California—the oldest BMW Motorrad dealer in the U.S. West Valley provided additional support and technical assistance throughout the trip. Leading technology provider of GPS tracking software for businesses with vehicles and other mobile assets, GPS Insight provided telemetry equipment.Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 3.59.31 PM

Notaries and film crews were present at the start and finish locations, along with 13 witnesses, including transcontinental record holders and members of the TransContinental Drivers Association, Ed Bolian, Dave Black, Greg Ledet, Deena Mastracci, Alex Roy and Vic Manuel.

As in his previous record runs, Reese carried an American flag for good luck. It was gifted to him by veteran and friend, retired Sgt. 1st class Rod Hawk. The flag originally flew in Iraq and was presented to Hawk for his accomplishments during the war. Reese, whom also served in the Army, said “I carry that flag to remind me of the men and women who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedom.”

Trip photos and video footage from the record-breaking trip in August 2015 are available to members of the media upon request. Please direct all media inquiries to Josie Hankey at 410-420-2001 or by email at For more information about this record-breaking trip and future expeditions, follow Reese’s Twitter account, @EVRecordAttempt.

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Carl Reese Set Cannonball Lap of Moorea for Charity

Endurance driver Carl Reese picks one of the most beautiful spots in the world to set his seventh world record. On March 26, 2016, Reese completed a 37.4 mile lap around the perimeter road located on Moorea in the French Polynesian Islands. The total elapsed time was 48 minutes and 18 seconds riding a 8 horsepower scooter. This record was set to bring attention to the upcoming combat veterans charity event in Los Angeles. Reese, who isn’t taking himself too seriously these days, set the new record aboard an ultra low powered scooter.

Carl Reese and his team set six transcontinental “cannonball” records in 2015. Including one Guinness Book World record with co-driver Deena Mastracci and Rodney Hawk in a Tesla P85D. Reese is most notable record is for setting the solo motorcycle record between Los Angeles and New York in 38 hours and 49 minutes aboard his BMW K1600 GT.

The Lap of Moorea is also affectionally called the “Coconut Cannonball 125,” which is in reference 125 cc scooter in which the record is attempted on. News of this new record was posted on Reese’s Instagram account. Reese said “Though not quite the horsepower I’m use to when setting records; it was quite enjoyable to bring awareness to a good cause.”

Reese will be giving a multimedia presentation “The 100 Year History of Motorcycle Records” at a charity fundraiser on April 16th 2016, at 6pm. New Century BMW Motorrad will be hosting the event at their Los Angeles area dealership: 3001 W. Main St. Alhambra, CA 91801. All proceeds go to combat veterans charity Motorcycle Relief Project. Tickets are available online at .

Carl partners with the Motorcycle Relief Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides relief to combat veterans suffering with PTSD and other injuries by taking them on structured, professionally-led multi-day motorcycle adventures. The trips help veterans decompress, learn stress management tools, and connect with other veterans with whom they have something in common.

Carl is currently working on a feature-length documentary called “Iron Riders: History of Motorcycle Records.” Born in Mercer, Pennsylvania, he currently resides in California. Outside of setting world records, Reese is a licensed general contractor, certified home inspector, and environmental specialist in Valenica, CA.

Carl Reese is currently on a speaking tour and is available to speak about his driving adventures internationally. For more information visit or contact (661) 270-6653.





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Woman Attempts Motorcycle Endurance Record on Maiden Trip

This is the story of a woman that wants to get her motorcycle license and wants to set a world record too. Deena Mastracci is attempting to set the “Longest distance by a new motorcycle licensee.”   She will take her motorcycle license test on June 1, 2016 at the DMV in the Los Angeles area.  Then immediately leave the DMV parking lot for an epic journey coast to coast…the hard-way!    A west coast to east coast journey with a  short pit stop at the Arctic Circle (furthest most regions of Alaska) in-between .   The goal is to log over 9000 miles on her first continuous motorcycle journey.  #AlaskaExpedition2016  Hopefully breaking the glass ceiling for all new motorcycle riders male or female.

World Record Holder Deena Mastracci
Multiple Transcontinental & Guinness Book of World Record Holder Deena Mastracci Photo Credit Ryan Sorensen
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Carl Reese and Deena Mastracci Fox News® Interview. Courtesy of Fox Business News ®


Deena is no stranger to setting records, she has FIVE transcontinental records to her name. All of them in a Tesla P85D electric car.  When she told me that she wanted to start setting some motorcycle records, I thought I could magically download my motorcycle experience into her brain.  I would soon learn this wasn’t the best way of going about it.

Myself on the other hand, I’ve been riding all types of motorcycles since the early 80’s.   In three decades of riding I’ve learned nearly every lesson the HARD aka the WRONG way.

I have more than a few memorable lessons; ones I will not bore you with here. With some serious amount of luck I managed to stay alive. With plenty of time the saddle, I developed what I thought to be a good riding skills. However they were basically a series of self preservation lessons; either self taught observations or tips from friends. To be honest just a mixed bag of bad habits, that I thought was the right way of riding. I was about to have a serious personal growth experience.

It was apparent from the start, that if she is to complete this trip in one piece, we would need at least four things: A motorcycle, a motorcycle license, attend a skills class, and get some gear.

Step one:  Was the easiest… We went down to West Valley Cycle Sales BMW Motorrad dealer here in Los Angeles.  Where Deena found a used 2013 BMW F800GT.  It fit her well, and we knew its previous owner Ellen whom had taken great care of it.   Knowing the bikes history and West Valley Cycle’s reputation made the process a painless decision for us.

Deena BMW F800GT
Deena’s used BMW F800GT     Photo Credit Carl Reese

Step two:  In preparation for her license Deena enrolled in the Motorcycle Safety Class.  Though she passed the driving skill test she wasn’t scheduled to take the written DMV test for several weeks later. She left that safety class feeling unprepared for the open road.  To help ease her concerns ,  I spent the next few weekends and evenings doing parking lot drills and driving up and down a private road.  I did my best to pass down my 30 years of motorcycle experience.  She picked up things quickly, but like many new riders she was struggling in the corners.

 Step three: About this time we learned about Street Masters Workshops riding school.  As luck would have it the next class was before our trip.  This is a one day class on a road course at Willow Springs International Raceway.  This isn’t a track day for guys that like to drag knees and going in circles.  No, this is a simulated road course that is used for training motorcycles riders for the real world.


Saturday morning I drove Deena’s bike up to Willow Springs (as she doesn’t even have a permit yet).  I figured I would just sit through the class with her, and this would just be a refresher for me.  In the first 15 minutes of the class, I came to an epiphany…This is NO basic motorcycle safety class..they are not teaching you how to tie your shoes here.  This is a college level instruction being taught in a way you will not forget. I realized I was surrounded by seven very experienced instructors. This was going to be an eye opener, not a refresher.  You can set all the world records you want, but there is always room for learning new skills.  This day would be full of lessons for both of us.

The morning class room session was informative and brief. It consisted of a fast moving slide presentation before getting out on the road course.  Each instructor keep the training moving along with a well thought out curriculum.


Street Masters

As I watched Deena progress throughout the day. It was obvious that the instructors take great pride in helping each student, giving them one on one feedback after each exercise.  No big egos here….just straight talk.  Often times I think people let their egos get in the way of learning. Ever heard of the Darwin Awards?   If you don’t think you need this class…well you just might be the person i’m talking about.  Yeah, yeah heard all the stories…So you’ve been ridden for years and know how to ride….really?  I get it, you’re a seasoned rider…and know everything…. Okay.   Well I thought so too, until I participated in this class.

This particular class was made up of 53% women and 47 percent men.  A mix of new, intermediate and seasoned riders. Bikes of every shape and size were represented from Harley’s to Honda’s and everything in-between.

Deena Mastracci after one day class at StreetMasters.
Deena after one day class at Streetmasters. Seen with Clearwater Lights #BrightLightsSaveLives Photo credit Reg Kittrelle

The class was well organized and before we knew it 4pm rolled around quickly.  Class wrapped up and they presented a Sena Bluetooth Headset to one lucky person in the class.   It was clear that everyone including myself walked away more skilled to deal with the challenges on the road.   I challenge you to spend one day with Streetmaster, I’m confident you’ll come away with a new appreciation for riding.

Streetmasters opened my eyes up to some fundamental information that I wouldn’t have though to even mention to Deena.  She came into the class a complete novice with ZERO street experience.  After one day in the  Streetmasters class she rides better than some people that have been riding for years.  The “tools” she picked up may save her butt one day.  For that I’m grateful.

You can find more about these classes at 


Step Four: We need to purchase quality gear, on a working-man’s budget. Both for the bike and our bodies.   One thing I have learned over the years is their isn’t any substitute for quality. When I shop for apparel I normally touch the material and try to attempt to ascertain two things: One….will this hold up and two will it be comfortable? PrintMy first impressions were the quality of the material. A perfect mix of quaintly thickness without sacrificing comfort.  I was blown away at the details in the design that most causal purchasers may not notice. For instance the notched material on the side of the pant leg that doesn’t bind the material when the knee is bent.  Thank you First Gear for not pinching my leg when I sit on my bike!

Notched Knee Material on Kilimanjaro pants.
Notched knee trim material on Kilimanjaro pants.

Or an adjustable neck collar for those brisk mornings.  The truth is neck sizes vary.  Why did we have to wait so long for this feature?  Or better yet why haven’t other manufactures caught up to First Gear innovations?


Adjustable First Gear USA Kilimanjaro Motorcycle Jacket
       Adjustable collar on a First Gear USA motorcycle jacket


Another thing I noticed was the adjustable knee armored in the pants, something my prior pants didn’t have.   The list goes on and on.  If your shopping for quality motorcycle gear do your self a huge favor, Get your hands on some First Gear products.  In my research for this cross country trip First Gear USA is our choice for comfort, cost and quality.

Bright Lights Save Lives

We not only needed gear for Deena, but her bike too.  We trucked the bike up to Northern California last weekend to have ClearWater Lights install lights on Deena’s Bike. We chose the Sevina‘s and the Darla’s. The Darla’s have a yellow removable lens cover seen seen in the photograph above.   I believe #BrightLightsSaveLives. I believe all stock motorcycle headlights are inadequate for night time illumination.  I used these same Sevina’s from Clearwater lights (seen in this video) when setting the motorcycle cannonball record run from Los Angeles to New York.  I got to give credit to my good friend Ryan Sorensen whom recommend the ClearWater Lights to me.  I fell in love with them right away. The best part ClearWater Lights are made in the USA.

New Windshield

We installed a new taller windshield on Deena’s bike.  The stock one on the F800GT is much to low for touring distances of this length. We turned to ZTechnik the same company I purchased my from when I set the Los Angeles to New York City Motorcycle Record.  These are made by National Cycle the same people that manufacture windscreens for BMW Motorrad.  She will experience less fatigue with the added wind protection.

Eye Protection

Since our first leg of the journey takes us into the Arctic Circle with constant daylight when we reach DeadHorse.  To protect our eyes we will be wearing Dillon Optic Sunglasses. Dillon uses an NIR Lens Technology. If your wondering what is that?  It is a polarized diffuse reflector that reduces internal reflections within the lens allowing for noticeably sharper clarity.


Pack Light

We removed both stock batteries in the motorcycles and replaced them with EarthX batteries.  This drops nearly 16 pounds of weight verses the stock lead acid batteries.  Lead acid is over 100 year old technology that is outdated to day the least. We are traveling to the remote wilderness of Alaska and Yukon, I’m not going to risk it we are running with Earth X!  EarthX Batteries are designed to be a replacement of a standard 12 volt lead-acid battery, but their nominal voltage is 13.3V so it will spin your engine faster than you would ever believe possible at an 80% weight reduction! EarthX has exclusive features that include a microprocessor Battery Management System (BMS) that monitors the charge level of each cell and balances the charge when needed, protecting the cells from overcharge or over-discharge, short circuit protection and excessive cranking protection (heat). What this means for you is more starting power, longer battery life, and the safest lithium motorsport battery on the market.


Watch Deena’s Epic Journey

Deena’s trip will be available to track LIVE courtesy of GPSInsight a vehicle tracking company.  The Live map can be viewed starting 6/1/2016 at .   Show your support and share comments on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram.

#AlaskaExpedition2016 #CoastToCoastTheHardWay #GirlPower #BecauseTurningBackIsNotAnOption #BrightLightsSaveLives

GPSInsight follows World Record Holder
                  GPS Insight equipment will track Deena’s World Record attempt
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Horatio Nelson Jackson First Transcontinental Automobile Trip

By Carl Reese 


In 1903 Horatio Nelson Jackson accepted a $50.00 ($1500.00 in 2015) bar bet that he couldn’t drive an automobile across the country.   Amazing since he didn’t have any experience with a car, or much less own one.  With no driving experience or maps to follow Horatio set out to prove to everyone wrong. One man’s mission to show the world that the automobile was something more than just a passing fancy.


The first step was to find the car.  Jackson a physician by trade had no mechanical experience. He convinced a mechanic and chauffeur, Sewall K. Crocker, to be his co-driver. Crocker convinced Dr Jackson to purchase a Winton car, since Crocker had some prior experience with the Winton. He bought a used 20 hp two-cylinder Winton, which he affectionately called the Vermont.   And so it began, men would forever name their automobiles (an inanimate object) as if they were living thing such as a horse.  

No cell phone, no AAA.

On May 23rd, 1903 Jackson and Crocker set out to be the first “cannonballers” in history.  Though it didn’t start out as a race, it ended as one.  Shortly, after their departure two other teams set out to steal Horatio’s glory.

Despite many obstacles including a blown tire in the first fifteen minutes of the journey, he remained positive in his many letters to his wife.

Almost immediately they made necessary modifications to the car. One such modification included updating the carriage lights. This took place on the second evening, as they proved to be way too dim.  Outrunning your headlights it seems, was a problem for this first cannonball crew too.

Horatio's Route

Horatio’s Route


While traveling thru Idaho, Jackson picked up a second companion….a dog named Bud. Which he purchased for $15 (nearly 400.00 today).   Dr Jackson soon realized the dust was bothering the dog, and outfitted Bud with some goggles.

Bud Transcontinental dog

Bud the Transcontinental Dog

Having burned about 800 gallons in fuel. They arrived in New York City on July 26, 1903, sixty-three days, twelve hours, and thirty minutes after commencing their journey in San Francisco. Jackson and Crocker were the first men to successfully transit the North American continent in an automobile.

The second group to arrive two weeks later, beat Horatio’s time by 1.5 days.  Horatio was the first and the fastest for 2 weeks.  After that he was just the first.  Records were made to be broken, right?  The third team (also the last) to make it to New York, took 73 days total.  The team was driving a smaller cheaper car made by Oldsmobile.  Though arriving last, they drove their front tires into the water then claimed to be the “First sea to sea trip across America”.   So there you have it, controversy started with the very first cannonball.

Oldsmobile didn’t win.  In fact they were 11 days slower than the fastest team. However , it didn’t stop them from claiming a headline for Oldsmobile.

Dr.Jackson went on to be a War hero, one of the founders of the American Legion and successful business man whom was once ticketed in his home town for exceeding the 6 mph speed limit.   His car is on display a the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

  To learn more about Horatio Nelson Jackson check out the documentary “Horatio’s Drive” below.



Source#1: Horatio’s Drive Documentary


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107 Years before Carl Reese would set the EV Cannonball Record…

Carl Reese

Jacob M Murdock a wealthy business man from Johnstown PA and his family set out be the first family to drive coast to coast in a car.   I know many of you think Clark Griswold was the first, but actually Murdock gets credit for the very first family road trip in an automobile. On this trip he also officially secured the record as the longest journey by the same driver.

Jacob Murdock

Jacob Murdock

Murdock and his family would escape the cold winters of Pennsylvania and vacation in Southern California.   His second home was located in Pasadena Ca. The family would travel back and forth by train.

Inspired by a recent report of someone driving an automobile from Paris to Peking (Beijing today). Jacob decided to make other arrangements for getting back home to Pennsylvania in the spring of 1908.  Jacob purchased a used Packard with 5400 miles on it for $4200.00.

Even after reading about the arduous journey from Paris to Peking.  He was determined not to let difficulty stand in his way.  In his book he said “anything can be done, one way or another”.   When asked “Why he did he do it?”  Jacob felt he never had a satisfactory answer.  He claims “The idea of a transcontinental journey just built”.   In preparation he talked to western ranchers and others. They discouraged him from attempting it.  Surprisingly, when he talked to the family, they were “up for it”.

My favorite quote from Murdock….. “My mind got on the idea of a transcontinental journey until it became an obsession”  That statement embodies the American Spirit and the same reason records are broken today.  We as a human race will never be satisfied with the status quo.

Are you sure this is the road?

Are you sure this is the road?

Taking up six of the seven available seats in the car was his wife Anna, his three children Lillian, Alice and Milton, a mechanic and a friend.

In those days gas stations didn’t exist.  Murdock had to write letters to shop keepers along his planed route in advance to “order” gas from local hardware stores.  These stores would sell sealed containers of gas for machinery, little did they know that they would be the first “service/gas stations”.

Jacob Murdock Route

Jacob Murdock Route

In the early morning of April 24th 1908 Murdock loaded up his family and set out from Pasadena, CA on his way to New York City.  Driving only during daylight hours, Jacob took a leisurely pace.  Much like David Simpson, Jacob insisted on doing all the driving himself.  He took Sundays off and the family rested.  Once they reached their primary home in Johnstown, PA the family freshened up and took two days off to rest. After a two day pit stop they continued the final leg into New York.  With all that Jacob still managed to set a time of 32 days 5 hours and 22 minutes.   The family ended their trip at Central Park on May 26th 1906.  An overzealous police officer interrupted the interviews with reporters and told him to get his muddy car out of Central Park.  Thus starting the love hate relationship that continues on today.

Jacob Murdock secured two records:

  1.  First family to drive coast to coast.
  2. The longest automobile journey by a single driver.

You may think this is slow compared to Ed Bolian’s and Dave Black’s time in 2013 of 28 hours and 50 minutes.  You would be correct.  However, The majority of Jacob’s 3674 mile trip was across open country side, following railroad tracks and not any paved highways.  Whereas Bolian and Black put the petal to the metal on nicely paved freeways.

Jacob was driving an “Packard 30″ with a whopping 30 horses.  Ed and Dave on the other hand had a few more ponies under the hood.

Countermeasures included a Winchester 30-30 for his son Milton whom kept an ” Unavailing warfare on the coyotes”

Rolling road block

Rolling road block

The transcontinental runs will get shorter and shorter over time.  Perhaps Jacob didn’t understand the significance of his record.  But the human race wouldn’t exist as we know it if we were not compelled to do better.  It’s why the past and present records are important.  It’s in our DNA to improve on every aspect of life.  The bottom line is, men like Elon Musk will invent better technology to not only drive cars faster and more efficient, but into space as well.    One day our great, great, great grandchildren will be racing each other to the Mars colony if Elon has his way.


Source: “A Family tour Ocean to Ocean”  by J.M. Murdock

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AAA Sponsored the Very First Automobile Cross Country Rally

by Carl Reese

Long before Brock Yates and Richard Doherty organized coast to coast automobile events in the 1970’s and 80’s.  Col. Augustus Post and the American Automobile Association  (AAA) was testing the limits of man and machine.

Augusta Post

Augusta Post 1874-1952

The Summer of 1904

A little more than one year after Horatio Jackson won a bar bet; by becoming the first person to drive across the United States in an automobile.  Augustus Post and the AAA organized what may have been the first automotive road rally.  Who is Augustus Post?  And why has the transcontinental community nearly forgotten him? He is someone that is connected to some very interesting corners of transportation history.  Post and his band of buddies were organizing many events, forming clubs and setting several records during the turn of the century.

One of Post’s landmark events was a rally that took place on July 25, 1904.  Seventy-one vehicles took part in competitive run from New York to St. Louis.  Their destination was the “St. Louis World’s Fair” to commemorate the centennial of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty.

It was a time when the American spirit was unapologetic and manufactures were not overly controlled by attorneys. The press of that era covered events like this from start to finish. Manufactures were eager to sponsor such events and take out full page ads to prove that “Made in America” was something to be proud of.  This sponsored event and ones like it drew crowds far and wide.


Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 5.16.50 PM


At  8:30 am on a mild summer Monday morning the crowds and press witnessed 16 of those 71 automobiles set out from 5th Ave and East 59th Street.  For anyone that is curious, as I was, this is the south-east corner of Central Park.  Which just so happens to be the same place Jacob Murdock chose to end his record-setting journey just two years later.

Getting There is Half the Fun

With nothing more than some hand-drawn maps, these men traveled to St. Louis by way of Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo. Picking up other automobile owners along the way.   A time when roads were nothing more that unmarked dirt trails.

Halfway through the journey Charles J. Glidden offered a trophy to the outstanding car completing the run. Roughly forty miles outside St. Louis they ran into rain that slowed their progress considerably.  Many broke down along the way, and other drivers would pitch in to help. Those that didn’t break an axle from the ruts got bogged down in the mud.

Seventeen days after they started the teams trickled in to St. Louis.  The first to arrive was Percy Pierce in his Pierce-Arrow, the official winner of the first ever “Glidden Trophy.”   Charles Glidden, a competitor that offered up a that trophy. Glidden went on to organize six of his own events known as the “Glidden Tours”.  This was no holiday tour.  Each year they progressively got longer and harder. You can see video of the first Glidden Tour here.

Glidden and Post

Glidden and Post

Why its important to remember Augustus Post

To say Post was a car enthusiast wouldn’t do him justice.  He owned the first automobile in New York City (electric model),  built the first public garages for automobiles. A true visionary of American transportation. Think about it, without men like Post, would there even be a Red Ball Garage?

Not impressed?  What if I told you he hung out with geniuses like Alexander Gram Bell, and Wilber Wright. He was also the 13th man to fly an airplane in the United States.  Post and Glidden teamed up again to organize the Aero Club of America.  The ACA issued the first pilot’s license in the United States. Together with ACA they formally organized aeronautics and verified records.

Alexander Gram Bell and Augustus Post

Alexander Graham Bell and Augustus Post

Post and the Infancy of Air Travel

As the country was exploring the limits of the automobile.  Augustus was exploring the viability of air travel, and competing in several balloon events also.  Post and his team set a endurance record in a balloon, an attempt from St. Louis to New York.  Their time of 48 hours 26 minutes was made official by the Board of Governors of the ACA.

On a separate balloon journey Post crashed a balloon in the Canadian wilderness and it took him 5 days to hike out on foot.


Ten Ballons Preparing To Start in the Fifth International Race For The Gordon Bennet Cup

Later in Post’s life he organized Automobile Old Timers Association an automotive pioneers/record holders club of sorts. You can bet those were some great meetings.

3 Lessons Post and others have taught us

Determined men like Augustus Post, Jacob Murdock, Charles Glidden, and Horatio Jackson changed the course of our great country in three ways. One, they showed Americans that the automobile was here to stay. Two, they demonstrated that infrastructure was desperately needed.  Third they helped automobile industry improve manufacturing by helping them understand the shortcomings of the automobile.

Past or Present Automotive Records will always be apart of American history

Automobile records of the past shaped America transportation landscape.  Transcontinental automobile records showed the country that horse and buggy was no longer needed.  Just as EV records  of today prove that foreign oil is no longer needed.  Men like Post and Horatio opened our eyes of the possibilities for our future as a country.  Aero-records of this time period paved the way for modern aviation.  The first record attempts literally set the stage for all modern air transportation as we know it.

The American Spirit is not Dead

Eleven new cross country records were set in 2015 . Among them the very first Autonomous coast to coast record, and a Guinness Book Record for EV Coast to Coast travel.  Current generations of Americans have picked up the torch and now are testing the tech of our time.

Guinness World Record Team " UberQik" Setting EV Record in April 2015

Guinness World Record Team ” UberQik” Setting EV Record in April 2015.  Team UberQik consisted of Rod Hawk, Deena Mastracci and Carl Reese.  The trio set the Cannonball record for Electric Vehicle from Los Angeles City Hall to New York City Hall.  The team was supported by Anthony Alvarado, Johnnie Oberg, and Matt Nordenstrom.

Each new record set the stage to showcase auto manufactures and the future of transportation. Some publications now days refuse to cover these stories are forgetting American’s long lasting obsession with such events.   Major news outlets including Fox News, and the Today Show are undaunted and have no issue with reporting these amazing feats.

In my opinion the problem is the attorneys and the editors that demand journalist only write “fluff” pieces.  Fearful their own shadows, and litigation.   In the wake, the Amercian public is left with endless number of favorable Youtube reviews of “press” cars.   I believe Post, Jackson, and Cannonball Baker would spit on the boots of such cowardice.

Brock Yates on the other hand embodied Post’s automotive spirit.  Yates wrote for Car and Driver magazine and shared the stories of the records set during the  “Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Runs”.   Yates brought a resurgence of organized record breaking events during the 1970’s.   Richard Doherty picked up the torch in the 1980’s with the running of U.S. Express.  These transcontinental pioneers should never be forgotten.


How the Press, Post and Glidden Improved The Roads

How the press chooses to cover these stories into the future remains unclear.  We need to be grateful of the press coverage during the “Glidden Tours”.  That coverage brought forth embarrassment for local, state and government officials regarding the deplorable road conditions.  That onslaught of press eventually brought forth better roads.  For that we should all be grateful.  I think history shows us that record setting men, the press and manufactures have made transportation better for all Americans !

1948 Press Photo Augustus Post with Madelyn Dillon

1948 Augustus Post with Madelyn Dillon Photograph from Photo Reese Collection

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First Women to Complete Dual Transcontinental on Motorcycle

by Carl Reese

On May 2, 1915, the mother-daughter team of Avis and Effie Hotchkiss left Brooklyn, New York on a Harley-Davidson® three-speed V-Twin with a sidecar. Their destination? San Fransisco California and then back to New York.

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Born to run.

Effie had a reputation of being a lead foot.  She got her first citation when she was caught cruising on her motorcycle at 35 mph on Brooklyn’s Ocean Parkway.  She later told the story she had given the officer “My machine really doesn’t run well unless it makes over 30,” she sheepishly explained. He had no sympathy, she got a ticket.

Where we are going we don’t need roads!

Without proper roads such endeavors were often discouraged. Effie said the more dangers people told her about (e.g. indians, atrocious roads,mountain passes, deserts with no water), the more it convinced her to go. She wasn’t about to miss an adventure of this magnitude.

It was difficult just going from one town to the next, much less crossing the country.  Mud ruts and dusty unmarked trails, getting there was questionable at best. Most that attempted it, turned back with the first sign of difficulty. These gals were the exception.  Without GPS, cellphones or proper roadsigns, they along with any other lunatic that attempted it…. were basically on their own.

Effies motorcycle stuck in the mud

Effies motorcycle stuck in the mud

Seeing America was the first priority, not the record.

The two never intended on setting any records. Effie was quoted saying “We merely wanted to see America”. The trip to California was a leisurely pace, compared to Edwin “Cannon Ball” Baker’s time of 11 days around the same time period.

What boys can do, girls can do better.

The trip was not easy. Having exhausted their inner tube supply, did they give up? No! The ladies cut a blanket into a strip and rolled it up in the shape of a doughnut.  They stuffed it into the tire cavity to limp the motorcycle into Santa Fe, New Mexico where they replenished their supply of tubes.

Their route included traveling through the San Marcos pass near Santa Barbara California. Not exactly a direct route to San Fransisco. Witness said the temp was 120ºF that day.

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By August the mother and daughter reached San Fransisco. They dipped the front wheel into the ocean. The two rode into the history books as the first woman to cross coast to coast on motorcycle.  

Effie N. Hotchkiss and mother Avis

Effie N. Hotchkiss and mother Avis

Like many, they didn’t stop there – they turned the bike around and drove home to New York.   The duo arrived back in New York in Oct 1915, setting yet another record….the ultimate transcontinental record of them all, the grueling…”Double Transcontinental Motorcycle Record”.

Avis and Effie Hotchkiss in Salt Lake City UT

Avis and Effie Hotchkiss in Salt Lake City UT

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The Ultimate U.S. Road Trip

By Carl Reese

Randal Olson, a data expert and self proclaimed geek, was more than up for the challenge of computing the optimal road trip. Tracy Staedter, of Discovery News, and Randy collaborated some ground rules for the trip.

1. There must be at least one stop in each of the 48 contiguous states.
2. Stops would fall into one of the following categories: National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks or National Monuments.

Tracy came up with 50 stops and Randy got to work on devising the route with the least amount of driving. The entire trip racks up 13,699 miles and a little over 9 days of driving time.

Map by Randal Olson

Map by Randal Olson

The stops include:

1. Grand Canyon, AZ
2. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
3. Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID
4. Yellowstone National Park, WY
5. Pikes Peak, CO
6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
7. The Alamo, TX
8. The Platt Historic District, OK
9. Toltec Mounds, AR
10. Elvis Presley’s Graceland, TN
11. Vicksburg National Military Park, MS
12. French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
13. USS Alabama, AL
14. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL
15. Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA
16. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC
17. Lost World Caverns, WV
18. Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC
19. Mount Vernon, VA
20. White House, Washington, DC
21. Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD
22. New Castle Historic District, Delaware
23. Cape May Historic District, NJ
24. Liberty Bell, PA
25. Statue of Liberty, NY
26. The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT
27. The Breakers, RI
28. USS Constitution, MA
29. Acadia National Park, ME
30. Mount Washington Hotel, NH
31. Shelburne Farms, VT
32. Fox Theater, Detroit, MI
33. Spring Grove Cemetery, OH
34. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
35. West Baden Springs Hotel, IN
36. Abraham Lincoln’s Home, IL
37. Gateway Arch, MO
38. C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, KS
39. Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, IA
40. Taliesin, WI
41. Fort Snelling, MN
42. Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE
43. Mount Rushmore, SD
44. Fort Union Trading Post, ND
45. Glacier National Park, MT
46. Hanford Site, WA
47. Columbia River Highway, OR
48. San Francisco Cable Cars, CA
49. San Andreas Fault, CA
50. Hoover Dam, NV

Though the drive time is only 9+ days the road trip would take far longer when you take the time to enjoy each stop. The trip can be a bit more to bite off than most can chew so Randy posted a link using his algorithm for others to plug in their own stops and it formulates the most efficient route to take. In the wise words of Randy “Every major journey begins with a plan.”



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