Erwin G. "Cannon Ball" Baker was a legendary long-distance record setter in the first half of the last century who traversed the nascent roadways of the nation on what were essentially sponsorship dares from manufacturers. He later became NASCAR commissioner, and when the idea for a cross-country road race popped into Yates' mind in the '70s, the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash was born. (Yates claims not to know why he compounded Cannon Ball's sobriquet, at least that's how we remember the story.) The One Lap of America is an outgrowth of that, ostensibly legal, but offering a copious opportunities for mad hoonage along the way.
Erwin George Baker [Wikipedia]
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