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The Need for Speed

Step aside, Burt Reynolds. An Atlantan breaks the record for the legendary Cannonball Run.

Ed Bolian’s car is outfitted with high-tech gadgets to help him win Cannonball Run.

Ed Bolian spent 10 years planning this trip.

He was a senior at North Gwinnett High School when he interviewed Brock Yates, the auto enthusiast who founded the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash immortalized in the 1981 film The Cannonball Run. “I told him, ‘One day, I really want to break the record,’” the now-28-year-old recalls. “That enthusiasm never died.”

On Oct. 19, Bolian left New York with two companions, Dave Black and Dan Huang, in a Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG. Less than 29 hours later, they arrived at the finish line of the classic race in Redondo Beach, Calif., shedding more than two hours off the coast-to-coast record.

Despite sleep deprivation, bedpans, speed traps and the mind-numbing concentration it takes to maintain speeds of up to 158 miles an hour, Bolian says the biggest challenge was actually getting on the road: “It was hard finding people crazy enough to be into the idea, but responsible enough to actually go through with it.”

Bolian, who works at Motorcars of Georgia’s Lamborghini Atlanta, equipped the Benz with a number of anti-police measures, laser detectors and extra fuel tanks so they’d only need to make three pit stops on the way.

“I’m sure I’ll attempt a lot more adventurous drives,” he says, mentioning Peking to Paris or London to Capetown, “but the idea of doing this [one] again is daunting.”