Maine men sets transcontinental speed record

Episode 288

November 3, 2019

Who says Maine has no talent????

I live in a rural state with about 1.34 million people or 41.3 people per square mile, yet currently circling the Earth aboard the space station is Caribou native, astronaut Jessica Meir, fastest woman from Maine ever (17,150 mph or 4.76 miles per second). Now Mainers can lay claim to another of our own as the fastest in the newest version of the original Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Dash in 1971.

The original start began in downtown New York City at the Red Ball Garage as a protest against the 55 miles per hour national speed limit. Fastest time for that event was set by Brock Yates (Car & Driver Magazine Editor) and Dan Gurney ( legendary professional race car driver; did I really have to tell you that?).

Yates and Gurney accomplished the Sea to Sea drive in 35 hours and 54 minutes or 80.8 mph in a Ferrari Daytona. That record held until 1975 when Rick Kline and Jack May in a 1973 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS lowered the time to 35.53.

The last Cannonball Run was in 1979 with the cross-country course beginning in Darien, Connecticut at the Goodwives Shopping Center to the Portofino Hotel and Marina, Redondo Beach, California. The organizers had to change the venue starting location to Connecticut due to the large number of cars. The record time of 32 hours and 51 minutes was set by Dave Heinz and Dave Yarborough in their 1979 Jaguar XJS. The course was 50 miles longer than the New York to California route.

THe 1983 run resulted in a new record for the New York to LA (the shorter course) with a time of 32 hours and 7 minute by Doug Turner and Dave Diem with a 1980 Ferrari 308 GTS.

The record set at the transcontinental event in 1983 (shorter course) and in 1979 on the Connecticut to LA long course was shattered by Hancock, Maine’s Fred Ashmore Junior. His 1979 Mustang Cobra Stallion completed the 2,886 mile course in 31 hours and 47 minutes. (Travis Bell photo)

Record setting team of Arthur Ashmore, North Lamoine, navigator/spotter, Fred Ashmore Junior, Hancock, driver, and Travis Hilton, State College, Pennsylvania, co-driver. The end point was the Portofino Hotel and Marina, Redondo Beach, California. Hilton and Ashmore Junior became acquainted at the 2018 event. Hilton agreed to split the driving 50:50. (Photo courtesy Fred Ashmore)

A little background of the C2C event

Fred Ashmore explained the rules leading up to the 40th Anniversary 2019 event saying,” The 2904 came along by a man named John Ficarra. He saw a vision of eliminating the deep pockets and unlimited budgets and started running east coast to west coast events in a similar fashion (low-budget).”

“Some of them included the Cannonball Route while others did not. With only $2904 you had to buy, build, and run your car coast-to-coast. That included repairs, fuel, tolls, and tickets.”

Ed Bollian’s 2002 Mercedes AMG which set the transcontinental record in 2015 under the $2904 rules. (Photo Edbollian.com)

“In 2015, Ed Bolian sourced a 2002 S55 AMG and was able to have all the repairs done for free, as the mechanic was a team member on the run. Ed and his team was able for the first time in 32 years break the 1983 time from Redball to Redondo by posting a time of 32:05. Ed now held both the Cannonball Route Event and Transcontinental Cannonball Route Record. The 2904 made its final running in 2017.”

“During the 2015 year another event had emerged called the C2C. The rules were basic, cars cost must be under $3000 purchase price and pre-1980 only. The first run started with 3 cars and ballooned in the final event of 2019 to 44 participants signed up.”

“2019 would be the last running of the C2C, with over 40 cars signed up and the 40th anniversary of the last Cannonball Run of ‘79 making Darien Connecticut the ideal starting place.”

 The car

Some of you may recognize Fred from the October 8, 2018 episode when he set the Pre-1965 record with his 37 hours 15 minute time in his custom-built 1963 Ford Galaxy XL500. That car featured a Crown Vic engine and a massive 188 gallon gas tank which allowed him and navigator Andrew LaVerdiere, Pittston, to make the trip non-stop.

Fred was asked to not bring back the Galaxy with its massive gas tank because organizers feared that teams would risk sleep deprivation to make the trip non stop.

Ashmore looked for an alternative pre-1980 car to make the 40th anniversary finale of the C2C. He found it when he noticed a post on social media for a 1979 Mustang Cobra with a rare “Wide Body Kit” made specifically for the television show Miami Vice. Only 4 or 5 of those kits were made by S & D Marketing of Miami.

He found the parted out Mustang under a palm tree near Miami. The owner found out what Ashmore wanted to use the car for and gave him not only that car but another identical Mustang which would yield a few parts but was not rebuildable.

Ashmore loaded both cars on his trailer and began the journey to his business, Ashmore’s Automotive Repair, Hancock, to begin the process of making one car for the transcontinental race which loomed only 2 months away in September 2019. The actual race date was a secret since organizers did not want word of the event leaking out to law enforcement along the route since the speeds obtained were well over the limit.

Fred Ashmore Senior looks over the engine bay after all non-essential components were stripped from the “Miami Vice” car in preparation for the engine. The front radiator support had just been rebuilt and reinforced and a new windshield put in place. The suspension including the crossmember was not yet in place (Fred Ashmore Jr. photo)

Ashmore custom-built the front coilovers with Bilstein shocks to maintain the correct ride height and handling which was often over 100 mph. Note the reinforcing welds to help stiffen the front clip. (Fred Ashmore Jr. photo)

Fred Ashmore Sr. working on the 2005 Lincoln Aviator V8 with 186,000 miles preparing it for installation in the Mustang engine bay. The swap required flywheel replacement since the Aviator engine had been hooked up to an automatic and now would utilize the Mustang 5-speed manual transmission. The car ran without a hitch all the way to California and back. It was started on July 12 and left for Connecticut exactly two months later on September 12, 2019.(Fred Ashmore Jr. photo)

The period correct original pearl white paint and Cobra graphics were done by Scott Mosher, U-Name It, Gouldsboro. Note the Betsy Ross flag atop the car to honor the fallen police officers who died in the line of duty. The 2019 C2C raised over $5000 for the Brock Yates Foundation Alzheimer Research Project as well as contribution to the Fallen Hero Fund. (Fred Ashmore Jr. photo)

The trip back to Maine included a stop at Cobra Headquarters, Gardena, California (Fred Ashmore Jr. photo)

When departing Connecticut , the Cobra drivers and navigator did not have room for their luggage in the car. The luggage was thrown into a fellow competitors vehicle with the words, “See you in California”. It turns out that the vehicle broke down along the way and never made it to Redondo Beach. The Ashmores drove back on Route 66 and found the wayward team, helped them fix their vehicle, and recovered their luggage before heading back to Maine. Note “Blue Lives Matter” on back bumper.(Fred Ashmore Jr. photo)

Some facts about the Ashmore Cobra and folks who made it possible

C2C Express World Record Holder (1979 Mustang Cobra 31 hours 47 minutes)
Classic Car World Record Holder (’64 Ford Galaxy in 2018 37 hrs 15 minutes)
Faster than anyone ever to run the Cannonball Routes in an event
Top Ten Fastest EVER in a Transcontinental Run across USA

2860 mile route
70 gallon fuel capacity
3 stops
Top speed 146 mph
Average 91 mph
12 MPG

This car was built and driven Fred Ashmore Jr. and Travis Hilton with help from:
Arthur H Ashmore III
Scott Hinkel
Scott & Klair Moshier
Glenn Manring
Jay Cushman
April Geel
Emery & Beverly Hubel Pratt
and most importantly his Mom & DAD

Thanks to John Carter and David Kane

What is next?

What is next for the adventurous Ashmore? Keep your eye on UpNorth Motorsports for information about racing a 1995 Ford Ranger in the SCORE Baja 500 or Baja 1000 in the very near future. Ashmore also discussed another even larger event which will not be revealed until more details come together, so stay tuned.

Trick or Truck in Westbrook

My granddaughters Lydia on left and Lila on right posing with the Carl Hinkson street legal #48 Jimmy Johnson Chevy. Hinkson from Windham was part of the Trick or Truck at Red Rock in Westbrook Sunday afternoon. The event was originally scheduled for October 28th but was postponed due to foul weather. (Erika Cole photo)

Let’s Go Racing!

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria (Matthew 5:16)

 

 

 

Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing. He races Champ Karts and owns HTF Motorsports in remote Westmanland, Maine