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Across America from East to West on a 2000 BMW M5

How long does it take to drive across North America? If you are Alex Roy and Dave Maher, the answer is 31:04 . Last year, that was all it took for them to drive their 2000 BMW M5 from New York City’s Classic Car Club to Santa Monica pier in California.

Their M5 had relatively few mechanical alterations. The speed limiter, was removed and the exhaust, shocks and clutch and brakes were replaced. An addition 16 gallon fuel tank added. There were, however, numerous electronic additions including a Valentine 1 radar and laser detector, Blinder laser jammer system, a Garmin 2730, a Garmin 2650 (used as a speedometer and backup system), Uniden 7960 scanner, Uniden BCT8 analog scanner, Uniden BC396 digital handheld scanner (their primary scanner), Uniden Pro520XL CB radio, L3 night vision system (thermal camera mounted in the car’s grill with an Alpine display in the cabin), Whalen siren and sound package with red, white, green, and blue strobes (front and back). In addition to all this in car equipment, they also had a spotter plane overhead watching for police activity and speed traps.

This was not some impulse trip. Alex Roy spent two years mapping out his route on Google Earth and marking detours, construction areas and speed traps. They took Vitamin Water, energy drinks and bars and nutritional supplements with them. Since stopping for bathroom breaks would have wasted precious time, they included a box of TravelJohns. Trip cost was about $150,000 (not including man hours).



The average sustained speed for the trip was 89 mph. Very impressive, especially since this was sustained for 31 hours. Of course since there is no where in the U.S. where the speed limit is as high as 89, they were speeding and breaking the law most of their trip (their top speed was 160 mph). Out in west Texas, you might be able to get away with that for a while – there is nothing to run into out there. (It is quite a feat to continue that for such a distance). Reckless driving and not stopping for adequate rest and you have a receipt for disaster. I definitely do not encourage anyone to try to repeat or top this milestone.

There have been many transcontinental driving records and many attempts to break them. The movie 32:07 – the previous record set by David Diem and Doug Turner in 1983 – documents this race, known as the U.S. Express. The 1981 movie Cannonball Run was loosely based on this. For more on the movie and this forgotten part of U.S. history, go to their website.

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