October 16, 2007
1983 was a million years ago. Since Diem and Turner set the US cross-country driving record of 32 hours, 7 minutes, police technology has improved just like everything else.
Even more to the point, since 2001, the tolerance of US law enforcement for the Deeply Weird has taken a decided turn for the worse.
They don’t come much more Deeply Weird than Alex Roy.
Roy – a bizarre mutant cross between a Formula One driver and Doctor Evil – has been tearing up the various cross-country and cross-continent rally circuit for the last few years with a talent for competition and a comic schtick that includes cars and outfits done up in the livery of a long defunct German police unit, which led to this hysterical piece of Gumball Rally silliness a couple years ago:
For the past few years, Roy has set his sites on breaking the Diem/Turner “Cannonball” record — whatever it takes. The whole thing has been filmed for an upcoming documentary release, and Wired has all the details.
“White lines scroll through the windshield and mile markers tick past the tires as Roy flips a series of toggles on the center console, killing the brake lights (to prevent telltale flashes if he needs to slow for sudden radar), then flips a few more to illuminate the cockpit with night-vision-friendly red LEDs. The cockpit glows like a submarine at battle stations. Now Roy punches up the digital codes corresponding to the New Jersey State Police on the police scanner. The car fills with the coded squawk of emergency dispatchers, speeding motorcycles, and domestic quarrels.
“OK, scanner is live,” Roy says. He hits another switch under the dash and a light goes green on his steering wheel display. It means that the vehicle is now traveling in a sort of force field of infrared light, a bubble that deforms the bandwidth of incoming police laser spotters. “Jammers are active,” Roy says. “Now let’s have the radar.””