1984 Cannonball Cup

In the spirit of questionable decisions and adrenaline fueled chaos, we proudly (and somewhat dubiously) celebrate the 40th "inaugural" anniversary of the 1984 Australian "Cannonball Cup". Inspired by the U.S.A's Cannonball Run a Mr Jeff Denmeade's Cannonball Paradise to Perth would start in Surfers Paradise Queensland on October 22nd with 3 starters from 7 entries, and end in Perth, Western Australia. 31hrs and 4,400 km's later with an average speed of 88mph or 142kmh the Pontiac Trans Am finished 1st, then the RX-7 and 'Peter Brock' Commodore 3rd.

1984 Cannonball Cup

So inspired were the Australian's by the Hollywood blockbuster and Jeff, that only 11 days later November 2nd, another 33 cars left Melbourne bound for Perth, in the "Cannonball Cup" a 3,800km sprint across the Australian Outback was a whirlwind of disqualified winners, bounced checks, stolen race-car parts (use of allegedly swiped part from the racing legend Peter Brock).  Despite the "Death Race" headlines and general disregard for road rules, miraculously, no serious injuries or lives were reported lost during this race either.

Car 11.

1972 ZF Ford Fairlane

Result 25th Taking 39hr 33min 33sec

Inspired by the 1979 and 1981 MAd Max cult films, or aka Road Warrior, with actor Mel Gibson(Furiosa is the latest instalment, only released last week 24th May 2024).

Result 1st 33h 04m 16s

Holden VH Commodore

John Hassard

 Ian Bray 

John Crowle 

"We had to find a public phone and call Perth for instructions. Others that arrived after us had found people at the checkpoint and received maps to the finish, which would have been really helpful". Excerpt from the official website. http://www.cannonball.info

The Cannonball Cup, in its essence as an unofficial, high speed cross country race, is inherently illegal due to the nature of the event. The 1984 Australian Cannonball Cup was promoted as a "timed" race with very few rules, similar to the US Cannonball Run. However, due to the significant amount of negative publicity, the organizers later insisted that it was a "navigation" and "endurance" rally. 


Teams could choose their route but had to pass through two checkpoints Berri, in South Australia and Albany, in Western Australia.


Teams could be disqualified for causing obstruction, driving dangerously, or receiving serious complaints from the police or public, also if drivers were caught by police for a driving offense, they were disqualified. 

Vehicle Checks

Vehicles were checked for roadworthiness, and some were ordered off the road for not meeting standards. The event faced a lot of controversy due to its loose structure and the dangerous driving it encouraged.

1972 ZF Ford Fairlane

"At Port Augusta in South Australia, the team had heard through the radio that teams were being stopped at a roadblock. Andre called up a nearby friend who brought a Ford F100 and trailer to tow the car through the roadblock. Andre says that they enjoyed chicken and champagne in the back of the F100 as they passed through the roadblock without being stopped.

Once off the trailer, Andre recalls catching a group of six or seven teams on the Nullarbor and passing them at a high rate of speed.

They were able to avoid police on a few occasions but did get pulled up when crossing the desert. The car was defected for the bonnet hump but they were allowed seven days to get that rectified, so could continue on with the race.

After 39.5 hours they arrived at the finish in 25th position. Andre said after the race that they had been stopped nine times by police, but not booked."

Excerpt from the official website.

Sadly Australian road fatalities were as high as 1,266 in 2023, a 7.3% increase from the previous year, also in 2023, from 14 shark attacks, there were tragically 2 fatalities.

On May 24 1994, 95 km outside of Alice Springs, an out of control Ferrari F40 with Two drivers were involved in an accident where both the drivers along with 2 race officials were killed. After starting on the 22nd and due to finish on the 27th, this would be the beginning and the end of the "Northern Territory Cannonball Run", a legal, 4,400km race from Darwin to Alice Springs and back. Today there is a monument at the accident site. After the collision the organizers decided to continue the event under a reduced speed limit for the remaining stages. Interestingly in 2007 the Northern Territory government briefly trialled open speed limits on a section of the Stuart Highway which was represented by a black circle with and diagonal bar.