USA scooter road racing – 3,500 mile Cannonball Run and Corsa | FEATURE
The words ‘Cannonball Run’ evokes memories of 1970s childhood, with seemingly far-fetched illegal car racing across America, the cops trying to put a stop to it at every turn. It’s not actually the stuff of Hollywood movies though, it happens, both in Europe and the USA. Although if you’re into scooters and fancy something similar the Scooter Cannonball Run is the one to aim for.
One of our American readers, Brett “Gonzo” Rhodes, fills us in on the details of this gruelling 3,500 mile Coast to Coast ‘race’ an event that makes the Lambretta Club of Great Britain C2C look like a picnic in the park by comparison.
There are three little-known scooter road races in the United States, or politically corrected, ‘endurance and navigational events’.
600-mile Corsa: IFP
The first is held annually and organized by the previous year’s winner, and only open to vintage two-stroke scooters (classed as manually geared steel framed scooters older than ten years). First dreamt up by Michael Garrett for his scooter-riding friends and now into its 10th year, it is called the Corsa: IFP, a 600-mile race over two days on mostly back roads.
First started in Washington DC and covering 500 miles in the surrounding States of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, the CORSA has since been held in Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
300-400 miles Corsette
While the Corsa is open to both male and female riders, Andi Leo, a Washingtonian herself, started the Corsette in 2010, for just female riders on small framed vintage two-stroke scooters. Though rules state guys can also compete as long as they wear a dress while doing so, to date, that hasn’t happened. As this race can only be ridden on small frames, the overall length of the race has been shortened to between 300 and 400 miles, again, over two days on mostly back roads.
There are two Facebook groups for Corsette, one is for the aforementioned event classed as a sports league, while the other is for an online retail company, my article was delayed due to looking at many of the interesting pictures in the latter!
Both the Corsa and the Corsette have similar rules and regulations; all entrants must be over 18 years of age, compete on a vintage scooter (though it can be kitted), GPS is strictly forbidden, and all checkpoints must be adhered to. A recovery vehicle does follow the racers on the course and can aid in breakdowns but, having your own personal recovery vehicle is against the “spirit of the event”. The event’s route is emailed to the competitors just 14 days prior to the start.
The race typically starts 9 am on a Thursday with a ‘Le Mans’ style start, and ends Friday afternoon, usually coinciding with the start of a major rally on the east coast. Previous rally hosts have been the East Coast Classic held in New Jersey, Whisky Dick in Pennsylvania, and Resurgence in Georgia. This year it runs from the Pocono Mountains in northern Pennsylvania to the AmeriVespa rally held in Richmond, Virginia, and is being organised by last year’s winner, Carl Marsh. AmeriVespa is one of America’s largest rallies, bringing several hundred scooterists together, and its location changes annually.
Scooter Cannonball Run, 3,500 miles
While both the Corsa and Corsette are strictly for two-stroke scooters, the Scooter Cannonball Run, a “navigational and endurance competition”, is open to both classic and modern scooters. Regardless of our thoughts towards modern scooters, it still takes a certain calibre of person to ride their scooter from Alaska, through Canada to New Orleans in Louisiana on a vehicle only ever designed for running to the local shop to buy a bag of sugar!
The Cannonball, a Coast to Coast Rally event that covers 3,500 miles and is held every two years is now in its twelfth year and is the brain child of Mike Heytens. The route changes every time, previous runs have started in Virginia and ended in Los Angeles; Oregon to New Jersey; Florida to Washington State; Georgia to California; California to Maryland and this year, the route starts in California and finishes ten days later in Virginia Beach. The “Cannonballers” average 325 miles a day for the duration of the event and draws more interest each year, it drew 50 entrants in 2014. The classifications for the Cannonball are broken down in to four groups, stock manual, stock automatics, kitted stock and kitted automatics.
All three events typically start and end at a hotel, hotels are also strategically placed throughout as checkpoints. We can all appreciate a hot shower and a cold beer at a hotel bar after riding hundreds of miles to a rally, but, only a handful on the North American Scooter Scene, or those escaped from local psychiatric wards, can recollect riding through the deserts and heat of Arizona, the wilderness of Alaska, the Californian shorelines and Redwood Forests, and the mountains of Washington State, Georgia and Virginia. The next Corsa and Cannonball are in May this year, expect an update, photographs and results then. Cheers, “Gonzo”, Hop Head SC.
Words: Brett Rhodes, photos Craig Lammes
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