A Man Drove Solo Across America in 25 Hours 55 Minutes in a Rental Mustang

Credit: Fred Ashmore
By Road & Track
You will be forgiven for stifling a yawn as we look at the details of another Cannonball album. And although the overall record from New York City to Redondo Beach, California is said to have been broken again by some people who haven't yet emerged from the shady world of hearsay and guesswork, we won't tell you about it today. What we want to talk about here is a record that is so stupid that it is brilliant and so crazy that it is exactly what we expected, as the passing times of these badly advised adventures are getting closer to the 24-hour Brand have approached.
We are talking about a solo run. A man, a car, a lot of gasoline and an alleged time of 25 hours and 55 minutes. That's an average speed of almost 108 miles an hour.
Credit: Fred Ashmore
If you followed our reporting, you will know that many people were excited last November when Arne Toman, Doug Tabbutt and Berkeley Chadwick destroyed a coast-to-coast time that has been behind the wheel of A since 2013, an excellently prepared, incredible fast Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sedan from 2015, which it transported across the country in 27 hours and 25 minutes. You will also know that since then we have provided limited coverage of the range of coast-to-coast record attempts that have been undertaken since then.
And you'll remember a certain amount of ridicule directed against the trio (or quartet, who knows) of Shteebs borrowing a father's Audi, strapping a couple of ship tanks into the trunk, and heading to most of the country Blown up fame was closed when a global pandemic took its grim toll.
But while most of us were turning our thumbs at home during COVID-19 closings (or grieving or dying for losing our jobs), a handful of ridiculous endurance drivers were busy driving routes from New York to LA. Some of them were running alone, and those of us who knew were amazed to see how long it took a person to drive 2800 miles non-stop from the low to mid 30s to just under 28 hours. Even those times that were set just a few months ago were recently blown out of the water when Fred Ashmore, 44, of Hancock, Maine, rented a Mustang GT, removed its passenger seats and other interior accessories, and buckled up enough additional fuel tanks to increase capacity of the car to around 130 gallons and drive from the Red Ball garage in Manhattan to the Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach with just one gas station.
"The Mustang GT will not go faster than 159 miles an hour," he told Road & Track. "Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying."
It is important to note that while Ashmore's time is impressive, it is not accompanied by a variety of third-party-verified GPS data that has become the "standard" measure of this non-sanctioned non-event. Hence the "supposed" qualification game. But he took a lot of screenshots of his Glympse tracking app while driving (he sent updates to his brother, girlfriend, and refueling team), and the images don't seem to have been tampered with. Those who know him agree that although Ashmore is crazy about Batshit, he is not a liar.
"When you look at a solo pursuit, it's not really a challenge that many people have faced," said Ed Bolian, whose 28-hour and 50-minute record lasted until November 2019. "It's so out of the way and superhuman." I find it much more entertaining than watching the audience. "
In a team run, the driver and the passenger drive or the passengers monitor the police detection devices, man the gyro-stabilized binoculars, carry out calculations and corrections and communicate with people on site.
"If you're on a team and you're the spotter, you can take a break and close your eyes for a few minutes," said David Simpson, a truck driver and author who set a solo record of 34 hours and 33 minutes a year 2015. "With a solo run, you don't have a chance to relax, even if you stop for fuel, because you're just so busy all the time."
Bolian, who has always preached the merits of careful preparation, found that the ad hoc nature of Ashmore's run was probably the key to his success.
Credit: Fred Ashmore
"In general, the risks associated with attempting a Cannonball record have been managed through careful planning and strategy," he said. "We always knew that throwing caution into the wind and driving as fast as possible could be another way to success. So far, no one has been crazy enough to take the risk, and Fred gave it all."
Ashmore was lucky and avoided the worst-case scenario in which today's high-speed drivers seem to be moving inexorably. Bolian is happy that Cannonball's security record remains immaculate for now.
Considering the amount of money that previous record holders have spent on the careful preparation mentioned above, Ashmore's effort is an example of extreme frugality. He says he hasn't spent more than $ 3,000 on his entire trip, including the car, the strapped fuel tanks (and fuel) on the Facebook marketplace, and the electronic countermeasures that go without saying for anyone who wants to drive these speeds have become without ending up in prison. It was a drop in the bucket next to the budget for Toman's professionally prepared AMG, or even the tens of thousands that Bolian spent on his car and countermeasures that led to his 2013 record run. Alex Roy, whose state-of-the-art electronics were before the democratization of cop-spotting social media apps when he set the first of the modern records in 2006, is in a different league in terms of budget overall. (There's a film about it.)
Credit: Fred Ashmore
Ashmore, who participated in a number of C2C Express races - the cannonball-style classic car rallies from 2015 to 2019 - was already known as a risk taker, namely as a low-buck race. As a true artist with cars that others would likely write off as garbage, he cobbled together some notable entries for the 2018 and 2019 C2C runs. In 2018, he stuffed the drivetrain and suspension of a newer Crown Victoria under the body and frame of a 63 Ford Galaxie Coupé that he found abandoned in a ditch near his home. He had to cut the roof off and reattach it to install the 187-gallon fuel tank he had built for it, but once the car was running (and had been covered with epoxy from garage to rear) it was worn by Ashmore and his Co. drivers from New York to LA without refueling, which makes them the only truly uninterrupted run (which everyone knows). The next year he picked up another basket case. It was a wide-bodied 79er Mustang Cobra that he says was a Miami Vice propeller car and, according to its original appearance, had apparently been used in a drug cartel and car bomb scene. He raised it from the dead by installing some modern (and very loud) viscera within two months, and drove 31 hours and 47 minutes with two other drivers.
Credit: Fred Ashmore
So the gasoline bomb thing was nothing new. Ashmore had simply refined its installation and fuel installation techniques and got into a modern car that could handle higher speeds better. To make it work in a rental car, he removed the back seat and front passenger seat to accommodate two of the additional fuel tanks he had purchased. He also took off the spare parts for the spare wheel, jack, and hold, and strapped the third tank - a 51-gallon giant - into the bared trunk of the car. The two rear auxiliary tanks were gravity drained into the main tank through a factory access hole in the floor where the rear seat should be. To deliver fuel from the third tank - the shotgun on the floor next to him - into the main tank, Ashmore used a small electric pump that was powered from the car's cigarette lighter socket.
"You had a little smell of fuel when I filled the car, but nothing very much," said Ashmore. "I had pretty good ventilation."
Credit: Fred Ashmore
The advantage of having all that gasoline was practically no downtime for refueling. A lot depended on the planning. Ashmore says he calculated his fuel consumption pretty well (the Mustang averaged 12 mpg), but instead of taking his risk at a nearby gas station that ran out of fuel, he kept in touch with a few friends, the one drove pickups with 150 gallons of gasoline sloshing around in a bed-mounted fuel tank. They coordinated a meeting point directly on I-44 and filled up the entire collection of fuel tanks in less than eight minutes.
Other than that, and a wait of about 25 minutes at the California agricultural inspection station, he didn't stop. When he had to urinate, he used empty Powerade bottles. Adrenaline and mental calculations for time, speed and fuel consumption kept him awake. He wasn't stopped by the police, although he says there was a close call towards the end, which he avoided by turning a series of shamrock turns.
Credit: Fred Ashmore
Compared to other recent attempts (except for the white Audi record run in April), Ashmore's setup was pretty low-tech. It had a laser jammer system and radar detector, but the only other extras on board were a tablet with Waze and Google Maps, an iPhone timer, the car's built-in computer, and a CB radio. He actually used the radio to persuade some truckers to get out of the way.
"I think they thought I was in a chase vehicle or they might not have moved," he said.
Credit: Fred Ashmore
Ashmore pushed the car at 4:55 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time) to the famous sign among the few who take care of it, at the entrance to the Portofino parking lot. He had left the Red Ball Garage at 6:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time the day before. The property was empty, so he took the obligatory "I have arrived" photos, parked down the street, removed the laser jamming heads, the LED light bar, the CB antenna, and the additional fuel tanks that he had installed, and straightened them the car east home. He says the few small holes he drilled to install all of this equipment would be virtually invisible to the car rental company.
Credit: Fred Ashmore
"He's got a lot to do right now," said Arthur Ashmore, Fred's older brother, who kept in touch and advised him during the run. "Of everything we've ever done, it has probably made him the happiest."
For his part, John Ficarra organized the 244 lemon-inspired 2904 - a series of cannonball-style racquet car rallies that took place between 2007 and 2017 in response to Roy's wasteful spending and his extravagant demeanor in connection with his 2006 record run - with Ashmore's feat looking at the crooked face.
"There are so many of these runs now that you can hardly imagine anything," he said. "What is it like the 47th this year? I don't want to take anything away from Fred, but I only want six months without records."
Credit: Fred Ashmore
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