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Old 05-15-2011, 10:32 PM   #1
talismans
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Arrow Erwin "Cannon Ball" Baker

At a glance, most people today might think "big deal" at the records he set driving across the United States. They hardly look impressive when considering the speed at which we can now traverse the continent. The important bit of context here is, that way back when there was no Interstate Highway System. In fact, most roads weren't even paved, let alone set up for ease of driving from one coast to the other. I've always thought this guy was a revolutionary. One of the first "speed freaks." He was Brock Yates inspiration behind the real Cannonball Run Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash back in the 70s. I would certainly recommend reading Yates book Cannonball! for a few more interesting bits of anarchy on the subject, but that is a separate story.

Erwin George "Cannon Ball" Baker (March 12, 1882 May 10, 1960) was a motorcycle and automobile racing driver and organizer in the first half of the 20th century. Baker began his public career as a vaudeville performer, but turned to driving and racing after winning a dirt-track motorcycle race in Crawfordsville, Indiana in about 1904.
Baker was also famous for his record-setting point-to-point drives, in which he was paid to promote the products of various motorcycle and automobile manufacturers. In all, he made 143 cross-country motorcycle speed runs totaling about 5,500,000 miles (8,850,000 km).
In 1908, Baker purchased an Indian motorcycle and began entering and winning local races. His most famous victory came in 1909 at the first race ever held at the newly built Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Baker also raced at the 1922 Indianapolis 500, placing 11th in a Frontenac. He later became the first commissioner of NASCAR. Baker was inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.


Edwin "Cannonball" Baker in New York with his Indian motorcycle after his 1912 transcontinental journey.


Baker was born in Dearborn County, Indiana, in 1882. "Bake" undertook his first big adventure in January 1912. He left Indianapolis on a two-speed Indian and covered 14,000 miles in three months, traveling through Florida, down to Cuba and Jamaica, and then to Panama. He took a steamer up to San Diego where he based himself for a while and from there he competed in several endurance runs in both California and Arizona. It was during this time that Baker decided he would attempt to break the transcontinental record. After a record-setting transcontinental drive in 1914, he received his nickname "Cannon Ball" from a New York newspaper writer who compared him to the Cannonball train of the Illinois Central made famous by Casey Jones.[1] Baker died in 1960 in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is buried there in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Records

Baker set 143 driving records from the 1910s through the 1930s
. His first was set in 1914, riding coast to coast on an Indian motorcycle in 11 days. He normally rode to sponsor manufacturers, guaranteeing them "no record, no money".
In 1915, Baker drove from Los Angeles to New York City in 11 days, 7 hours and fifteen minutes in a Stutz Bearcat, and the following year drove a Cadillac 8 roadster from Los Angeles to Times Square in seven days, eleven hours and fifty-two minutes while accompanied by an Indianapolis newspaper reporter. In 1924 he made his first midwinter transcontinental run in a stock Gardner sedan at a time of 4 days, 14 hours and 15 minutes. He was so impressed by the car, that he purchased one thereafter.[2] In 1926 he drove a loaded two-ton truck from New York to San Francisco in a record five days, seventeen hours and thirty minutes, and in 1928, he beat the 20th Century Limited train from New York to Chicago. Also in 1928, he competed in the Mount Washington Hillclimb Auto Race, and set a record time of 14:49.6 seconds, driving a Franklin.[3]
His best-remembered drive was a 1933 New York City to Los Angeles trek in a Graham-Paige model 57 Blue Streak 8, setting a 53.5 hour record that stood for nearly 40 years. This drive inspired the later Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, better known as the "Cannonball Run", which itself inspired at least five movies and a television series. In 1941, he drove a new Crosley Covered Wagon across the nation in a troublefree 6,517-mile (10,488 km) run to prove the economy and reliability characteristics of Crosley automobiles. Other record and near-record transcontinental trips were made in Model T Fords, Chrysler Imperials, Marmons, Falcon-Knights and Columbia Tigers, among others.
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Old 05-15-2011, 10:42 PM   #2
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He drove at Indy for the Chevrolet Bros.? Wicked!
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ZOMBIE REAGAN FOR PRESIDENT 2016!!! heh
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Old 05-15-2011, 10:59 PM   #3
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His kidneys hate him.

Your road trip thread seriously has me considering driving up PCH to Sacramento, and letting the movers take everything else. As long as I can get a few hours lead time, I should be able to beat them there.
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Old 05-16-2011, 06:40 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big A View Post
His kidneys hate him.

Your road trip thread seriously has me considering driving up PCH to Sacramento, and letting the movers take everything else. As long as I can get a few hours lead time, I should be able to beat them there.


I would. What's stopping you? Once you get to Sac be sure to check out the Towe Automotive Museum. It's pretty cool.
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