MARIETTA, GA, March 07, 2012 – On April 22nd, sixty scooters will line up in Savannah, GA to participate in the Annual Cannonball Run.
The 8 day race stretches 2,648 miles across the U.S. and ends in San Diego, California. This year, newcomer Capt. Gary Kinney plans to finish the entire race riding a 2004 GT200 Vespa scooter.
What makes Capt.Gary different from the other 59 avid scooterists, Capt. Gary is 66 years old and he is riding to win.
With a resume like Capt. Gary’s, it doesn’t take much to see why he describes himself as an adventurer. Born in Traverse City, Michigan, Kinney moved to Dothan, Alabama and joined the police force as a motorcycle officer. Retiring in 1988, Kinney began his new career as a boat captain.
For the next 24 years, Capt. Gary sailed oil boats, yachts and Naval research vessels in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, Cuba and in the Pacific along the California Coast. He calls these his pirate years.
Kinney got the idea to participate in the endurance race from Floyd Grimm, Shop Manager of Vespa Marietta in Georgia. Gary claims Floyd “tricked him into it.” According to Kinney, ”we have a scooter that can win it and an old man who’s stupid enough to do it.” Within a few months,
Kinney had a team of backers including Vespa Marietta and several large powersports manufacturers who are supplying Kinney with the equipment he needs to complete the race.
The winning is up to Kinney. “The journey is more important than the destination, but if you’re not the lead dog the scenery doesn’t seem to change. With “world-class mechanic” David Brogdon from Panama City, Florida, and a truck full of tools, Kinney feels “pretty darn comfortable” that he has a good chance at winning.
Over the past five years, the Cannonball Run has become the top race for hard-core scooter riders across the nation. Each rider has eight days to make the almost 3,000 mile journey.
They must check into 3 control points each day and mark their time on a timecard. The winner of the race, is the rider with the fastest overall time, minus any handicap on the scooter depending on its age and displacement.
It’s not just the new fast Vespas that are entered in the race. These new bikes can easily coast along at 80 mph and still get 70 mpg. Included in the line-up this year are a rare 1946 Salsbury 85, several 1950’s and 1960’s Vespa and Lambretta scooters and even a modern 50cc Yamaha which screams along at 35 mph.
When asked about any challenges he sees ahead Kinney responded, “I don’t have a whole lot of quit in me. When you’ve been a boat Captain as long as I have…and if you’ve passed as many lighthouses as I have…you’ve got to be pretty darn handy making things happen.” As Kinney puts it, if something happens on a boat “you’ve got to get it fixed and get it going.” Is Kinney worried about the distance? According to him, “there’s a lot of endurance involved. It’s a mindset. Its another day