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Kiwis Crowned Kings of Cannonball Rally 2005

13 OCTOBER 2005

Kiwis Crowned Kings of Cannonball Rally 2005

A pair of kiwi drivers have won one of the world’s greatest road adventures – the Cannonball 8000 – outgunning the largest field of supercars ever assembled for the event.

Max Fletcher and Michael Hourigan, co-owners of boutique car dealership The Toy Shop, drove an Aston Martin Vanquish the nearly 3000km from London to Rome in three days to clinch victory.

“We’re absolutely stoked,” says Fletcher. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The most fun you can have with your clothes on.”

Held from September 16 to 18, the event attracted a spectacular field of 122 privately-owned supercars including Ferraris, Porsches, Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, and even a DeLorean. The course took in Belgium, Germany’s autobahns, and the Austrian Alps before heading into Italy.

“The event is not so much a race as an endurance event with five-star luxury and accommodation all the way,” says Fletcher.

“It’s not necessarily the car that crosses the line first that wins – it’s judged on a range of things such as which is the coolest car, who best displays the spirit of the Cannonball, how well you drive, and the amount of effort you’ve put into your entry.”

“But we still drove the nuts off the car,” he adds.

The organisers – who created the event in 2001 loosely based on the 1981 Burt Reynolds movie ‘The Cannonball Run’ – insist it is not a race and competitors are advised to remain within the speed limits of each country they pass through. In practice, the rule book is often the first thing out the window once the cars get underway, which explains why, for instance, the German authorities laid on an extra 500 traffic police specifically for the event.

Despite the huge expense of participation – car, maintenance, speeding fines, and a £3000 entry fee – first prize consists merely of free entry to next year’s event and a pair of Roman gladiator helmets. According to Fletcher, however, this is in keeping with the spirit of the event, which is “as mad as you want it to be”.


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