The first Towson-to-the-sea Cannonball Run was more radar than racing, but at least two drivers outfoxed a web of police patrols to arrive at the finish line in Ocean City.
At 2: 45 a.m., Jack Barranger, a 50-year-old car dealer from Frankford, Del., was the first to finish. He took his charcoal-gray Porsche on a route through Delaware that largely avoided Maryland's patrols. The state put 65 extra troopers on the highways because of the illegal race.
But Barranger acknowledged that 33-year-old Chuck Goldsborough, a professional race car driver, won the Cannonball Run by clocking a faster time.
Race organizers staggered departure times from the parking lot at Club 101 in Towson. Goldsborough left a half-hour after Barranger, but arrived in Ocean City just a few minutes later for an elapsed time of 2 hours, 20 minutes.
"If he didn't get caught speeding, it's amazing," said Barranger, conceding the win to Goldsborough. "I wasn't out to win anything. I simply drove it to drive it."
Goldsborough's strategy was to shoot quickly through Baltimore, then drive his red Porsche cautiously the rest of the way.
"I've never seen so much radar in my life," said Goldsborough, who grew up in Baltimore but is now a resident of Nevada. "We made all our time cutting through the city at warp speeds."
Though both drivers arrived in Ocean City ticket-free, state troopers were waiting for them in the parking lot of Secrets restaurant, the announced finish line.
Each gave a few interviews, posed for a few pictures, then got hit with a $265 ticket worth five points on their licenses for participating in a road race. The state suspends licenses after eight points.
Barranger plans to fight his ticket in court, since no trooper actually witnessed his participation in the race, he said.
After leaving the parking lot, Barranger said he waved a half-dozen other drivers away to save them from tickets. He said they made it to Ocean City but never officially crossed the finish line.
The Cannonball Run proved to be far smaller than organizers hoped. Drivers said they were told that more than 100 had signed up, each paying $100 to enter.
Authorities took notice of the race after organizers distributed a flier showing a picture of an Indy car and the number "55" with a slash through it. Under rules, it said, "THERE ARE NONE! (Just get there as fast as you can.)"
It guaranteed prizes of $2,500 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for the driver who received the most traffic tickets. Goldsborough said he plans to donate any winnings to the Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Baltimore.
Dozens of drivers showed up, as instructed, at midnight Friday. Nearly all were men under 35. They stood beside their sporty cars boasting of past races and outrageous speeds reached on lonely stretches of road.
But the police cruisers lined up at the entrance to Joppa Road and rumors of many more on the highways discouraged would-be drivers.
"If you hang with the group, they can't pull the whole group over," said Rob Freyer, 21, a junior at Frostburg State University.
But when a police helicopter flew overhead, shining its searchlight down on the parking lot, Freyer muttered, "Man, what's going on?"
Another driver, Don Shifflett, 31, of Baltimore had a strategy: "I can probably do 55 the whole way down and still win because everyone else will be in jail."
But a few minutes later, a Baltimore County police officer pulled Shifflett over even before his red Pontiac made it out of the parking lot. As spectators and camera crews formed a circle around them, the officer gave Shifflett a warning for not displaying his front license plate properly.
State and county police said they succeeded in controlling the Cannonball Run.
"It never materialized," said county police spokesman Cpl. John Hyman, "at least not in Baltimore County at Club 101."
A state police press release announced the citations against Barranger and Goldsborough but mentioned no other problems with the race, which it called the "Cannonball Bust." Before the race, police estimated the cost of the 65 extra officers at $10,000.
Barranger was not impressed with the effort. "It's a shame," he said. "It was a very good idea, but law enforcement blew it way out of proportion."
Pub Date: 5/26/96