Tire Rack Cannonball One Lap of America tour visits LVMS;

The Bachelor¿s Andrew Firestone: ¿It¿s a treat to be out here.¿


The 2004 Tire Rack¿ Cannonball® One Lap of America presented by Car and Driver Magazine, an annual endurance event for driving enthusiasts and their favorite cars and trucks, made a stop at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today.

The Tire Rack¿ Cannonball® One Lap of America (www.onelapofamerica.com) is a street-legal competition that tests drivers¿ stamina and driving skills, as well as their cars¿ reliability and performance. In just nine days teams will cross nearly a dozen states, stopping at seven major race tracks along the way to test their mettle in 17 competition events.

Perhaps the most recognizable name on the entry list is Andrew Firestone, star of ABC¿s ¿The Bachelor¿ TV show and great-grandson of Firestone Tire founder Harvey Firestone.  Andrew is teamed with his brother, Adam, and is driving a 2004 Subaru.

¿This has been great.  The tour has been taxing and tiring, but we¿re having so much fun,¿ said Firestone.  ¿Coming out to a track like this -- this is nothing like we¿ve seen so far.  It¿s such a treat to be out here.  The facilities are just top-notch.  It¿s one of the nicest tracks we¿ve been to, and fast ¿ really fast.

¿We got in about one o¿clock last night, and we were excited to get out onto the track.  My brother was lucky enough to come out here and drive with the Derek Daly School here, so he knew the track a little bit.  He¿s been talking it up all week.  This is the ultimate road trip.  Brothers on the road, 5,500 miles in the course of a week, hitting all parts of this great country and hitting some great tracks in between.  Las Vegas has been one of the highlights so far.¿

The obvious question to ask was how Andrew got along with brother Adam while driving in the same car for 5,500 miles.

¿We get along surprisingly well,¿ Firestone admitted.  ¿We know each other so well so there are no surprises.  I think a lot of arguments and tense moments come up when you don¿t know the other person¿s tendencies and you¿re surprised.  There¿s no surprises with us.  We know each other so well that I know he snores and he knows I get grumpy when I don¿t eat.¿

The One Lap tour is scheduled to leave Las Vegas Motor Speedway today at 3:30 p.m. (PDT) and head for its next stop, Pueblo Motorsports Park in Pueblo, Colo.

Cannonball: A bit of history

The early 1970s were not kind to automobile enthusiasts.  Insurance companies had legislated the American muscle car out of existence and an oil embargo caused gasoline rationing and the national speed limit to be dropped from 70 mph to 55 mph.  Brock Yates, then the senior editor of Car and Driver Magazine, created the now infamous Cannonball Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. ¿The Cannonball¿ was a flat out, no-holds-barred race from New York City to Redondo Beach, Calif.

The Dash was named for Erwin G. ¿Cannonball¿ Baker, the only famous auto racer who never won a major race. His specialty was driving cross-country, usually for a manufacturer who wanted to demonstrate the speed and durability of a new vehicle.  Baker earned the ¿Cannonball" nickname after he drove a Stutz Bearcat from San Diego to New York in 11 days, 7 hours, and 15 minutes in 1915. He lowered that to 7 days, 11 hours and 52 minutes in a Cadillac a year later and began promoting his services to manufacturers with the slogan, "No record, no pay."

Yates conducted his Cannonball Dash five times without incident; and ultimately the record set for the coast-to-coast run was 32 hrs., 51 min.  Among the many participants were NASCAR stock car driver Joe Frasson, Trans-Am road racer Pete Brock, Formula 1 star Jacques Villeneuve, American racing legend Dan Gurney and Can-Am racer Oscar Koveleski.  These outlaw Dashes attracted an interesting variety of entries, including a Dodge van, a Ferrari 308 GTS, a Chevrolet Vega, a Rolls Royce, an old Studebaker, a motorhome and a Suzuki motorcycle.

Yates, having made his point, wrote the screenplays for Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit II.  In 1984, the Cannonball Dash became the Cannonball One Lap of America and evolved into a legal road rally which circumnavigated with lower 48 states with the start/finish in Darien, Conn.  In 1992, the One Lap of America tour adopted the format it uses today: 5,500 miles on America¿s roads, stopping to visit race tracks across the country for time trial runs.