Scooter Cannonball Runs – 2 Different Views

March, 2014

There has been some unpleasantness recently on Facebook and some scooter and motorcycle forums about the two different Scooter Cannonball events. Before we present opinions on this matter, let’s just be clear that at we think it should be “and” as opposed to “or” so far as just about any scooter event is concerned. Scooters and scooter riders represent a MINISCULE part of the North American transportation market and are still greatly eclipsed by motorcycles in the powersports world. Trust us, there is amble room for these and many, many more scooter events. As to questioning the legitimacy of events and trash talking on-line, get some facts before you speak and get over yourself.

Let’s take a look at the two events in question.

The Scooter Cannonball Run has been around for some time (2004 was the first one I knew about) and is a cross-country event. The classifications, rules and scoring have changed a bit over time, but the general idea is to go cross-country in ten days and get the highest score in your classification. The Scooter Cannonball Run is NOT a race, it is a time/distance/regularity rally where points are awarded based on miles completed and the ability to maintain the standard pace. People on scooters of varying size and age ride 300+ each day for ten days. If that doesn’t sound like much to you, you haven’t tried to get 300 miles on a 125cc scooter for several days in a row. It isn’t easy. Frankly, it’s not all that easy on a larger (250cc and up) scooter.

The Real Cannonball took place in May of 2013. This was also a cross-country event and was a race. Plain and simple, that’s the major difference from the Scooter Cannonball Run. The driving force behind the Real Cannonball is the MSILSF (Motor Scooter International Land Speed Federation) and Alan Spears. I personally know, like and respect Alan. He’s a racer from the old days (I have more than enough gray hair to say that) and he is very passionate about and committed to scooter racing.

What do the two events have in common?

Both the Scooter Cannonball Run and the Real Cannonball are cross-country events that require a great deal of commitment in time and resources. Could YOU take many days off and ride across the country? How about getting you and your scooter to the starting point? How about getting home after the event? What about costs before, during and after? What about technical support for repairs and break-downs? Both are serious events and a lot more people talk about participating than actually get out and do it.

What is the difference between the two?

As I said earlier, that’s easy – one is a race, one isn’t.

Well, what’s the bid deal then? Why are people getting so worked up?

I think this comes down to three issues: the name, the age of the event, and the people involved. The name “Cannonball Run” certainly implies a Brock Yates type cross-country all out race. The only real rule was that one had to drive the same car through the entire race. The first one to the destination won, plain and simple. From that standpoint, the Real Cannonball is certainly much closer to the spirit of “Cannonballing” than the Scooter Cannonball Run.
The Real Cannonball is a (very) young event. It’s natural for the older Scooter Cannonball Run to feel the new event is some kind of usurper. It could also be said that as the Scooter Cannonball Run has aged it has become “tamer” and has lost any “racing” edge it may have had.
The people involved seem to have issues with each other. Again, I know Alan Spears. He’s very passionate and has made a huge personal commitment to scooter racing and the Real Cannonball. He takes it very personally when people attack what he has accomplished. Can’t say as I blame him. I don’t know Patrick Owen (Scooter Cannonball Run) or Josh Roger (the former Scoot! Quarterly magazine) personally. I don’t know the Scooter Cannonball Run supporters who trash the Real Cannonball. Seems to me, they would be more than happy to have an INCREASE in scooter events in this country and would be only too glad to encourage Alan and the other Real Cannonball participants.

…..aaaaaaand that’s about all I have to say about that.

Dave Harrington