The Cannonball History

The Irish Descendant

The origins of Cannonball Ireland date back a decade ago, when the founder, Alan Bannon, participated in a memorable European road trip. What struck him afterwards was the great sense of camaraderie that pervaded the trip. As a supercar fanatic and possessing a great sense of community, he vowed to create an Irish version of the Cannonball Run.

He set out with the task of bringing to Ireland’s roads everything that added up to the unique spirit he had witnessed on the European trip: the sophisticated style, the glamour of the supercars, the fun and comradeship on the road, the colours and joy of the carnival-style masquerade.

Still, there was a missing ingredient. He wanted the Irish Cannonball to be special; different to anything that had been done before. Then it struck him. The event had to have a noble cause, something to elevate it from simple innocent fun to something more meaningful. By supporting a respected children’s charity each year, Alan found the noble cause that was missing, that special ingredient that would make Cannonball Ireland different, special, and unique. For this year’s beneficiary, go to the Charity section.

The Cannonball Legend

Once upon a time (1933), there was a motorcycle legend and coast-to-coast riding pioneer called Erwin George "Cannonball" Baker, who crossed the United States from New York to Los Angeles in 54 hours, setting an historic record that stood for almost 40 years.

In his honour, in the early 70s, automotive enthusiast and magazine editor Brock Yates started the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, which saw five memorable editions. The second one (in November 1971) was won by Yates himself along with Dan Gurney, a former Formula One and Le Mans driver, in a Ferrari Daytona. They needed about 36 hours to make it from New York to Los Angeles.

Since that time, the race (mostly romanticized and re-imagined) became part of Western pop culture, inspiring the Cannonball Trilogy (1981's The Cannonball Run, 1984's Cannonball Run II and 1989's Speed Zone or Cannonball Fever) as well as the 1976 movie The Gumball Rally.

Skip forward to 2009 and the birth of Cannonball Ireland. Invested with such a powerful and emotive legacy, this worthy descendant of the Cannonball family has set the bar at an even higher level, bringing the power of a noble cause to bear on the epitome of fun. Are you in?