John from American Muscle Cars Ireland took time out on Friday to visit the start of the Irish Cannonball Run 2010 and report back to Motorcheck.ie on the fabulous line up of cars taking part in the three day event this weekend.
The Cannonball Run, an iconic movie from the early 80's staring many greats such as Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr and Farrah Fawcett to name but a few. This was probably one of the first movies that sparked my interest in cars and in itself was inspired Erwin Baker's 1933 coast-to-coast dash.
The Irish Cannonball, or www.cannonball.ie maybe came a little late as it was founded just as the Irish economy crashed, however in reflection this hasn't seemed to have any impact on the event. In it's inaugural year the Cannonball had more applicants than it could cope with and 2010 has been no different.
At 7.00a.m. this morning the guts of €30million worth of exotic metal began to line up in Dublin's Merrion Square for this years event. Countless Ferrari's, Lambo's, Maseratti's, Porsche's and Aston Martin's were on show sporting the Cannonball livery. Some 'lesser' models were also present but maybe even more noticeable for their rarity to include Frank Keane BMW's M1, a Ford GT and an example of the more modern GT40. A few more 'ordinary' vehicles were also thrown in like a VW Corrado, an R32, a Hyundai Coupe and a FIAT Bambino 500!
The atmosphere at the start line was electric and the combination of hot exotic metal and hot, sometimes exotic, models raised the temerature considerably. Many if not all of the participants were in character, i.e. just like the original movie you had sheiks, priests, NYPD cops, ambulance drivers and 'all girl' entries. The area around Merrion square attracted all types of spectators from young school kids to middle aged business men to car enthusiasts like myself.
Photographers and camera crews were out in force recording the moment and interviewing both drivers and spectators. There was a definate smell of money in the air and a noticeable lack of the 'ordinary man' participant of which there were a few in 2009. Dinner table conversation would appear to be more business orientated than about grease, oil and spanners - but then again maybe that's the profile the organisers want to attract?
At 10a.m. sharp the 'German' MC commanded the drivers to start their engines and the combined roar of 150 V8's, 10's & 12's defintitely stirred something in the pit of my stomach. Right then I was thinking, 'Why am I watching this? I want to BE this!' But alas it was not to be - not this year anyway.
Seconds later, and with Garda escort, they were off! Nothing quite like tearing up the streets of 'downtown' Dublin and having a police approved escort while doing so. The crowd roared and cheered, the engines roared and sang, horns were honked and banners were waved. And in what seemed like seconds they were gone, like well bred racehourses chomping at the bit waiting eagerly for the starting gates to open. A short canter through Dublin City then they would break in to a full gallop as they hit the N4 on their trip 'from sea to shining sea' - Cannonball!
Anyone who grew up in the 80's was subject to numerous movies and shows where the real stars were the cars. The '69 Charger driven by Bo & Luke Duke in 'The Dukes Of Hazzard', the 'Bandit' Trans Am driven by Burt Reynolds in 'Smokey And The Bandit', the Lamorghini Countach driven by Farrah Fawcett in 'The Cannonball Run', the Mustang Fastback driven by McQueen in 'Bullit', the Ferrari 308 GTB driven by Tom Selleck in 'Magnum P.I'. In our younger years these were the cars of our dreams and some of us have been lucky enough to acquire some seriously hot rides ourselves over time.
Over the years many of these shows and movies have been re-enacted in some shape and form, sometimes to disastrous effect like the recent homemade video of a couple of 'Duke' wannabies catapulting a Micra over a gulley in the back end of Kerry! However amature hour ain't always the way: In 1999, a wealthy socialite named Maximillian Cooper founded 'Gumball Rally 3000', a high flying, high profile, international road rally featuring high performance exotic sports cars. Over the years the 'Gumball' has made itself it's own 'Keep up with the Jones' (read: Joneses) as it gets more and more extravagant with wealthy Playboys, and girls, combating to be the loudest, the fastest, the most obnoxious and the most self gratifying die hard and partying harder contestants each year.
With the success of the Gumball Rally and the Irish bread need for speed www.cannonball.ie was founded to satisfy this urge and more importantly to raise money for the well deserving charity www.barretstown.ie.