VIDEO: "It's Cannonball, baby!" - A behind the scenes look at Europe's biggest supercar roadtrip
“It’s like a circus”! I overhead a woman exclaim as a cavalcade of over 160 supercars passed her, heading to our first stop at Bundoran Beach.
'The Circus' had actually started a few hours before at the Point Village when all of the drivers had met up to register and fawn over each others cars.
Every manner of exotic car you can dream of was part of the Cannonball Run, from the little Fiat Punto Abarth to the Lamborghini Huracan. All cars were on show, covered in crazy stickers - everything from the main sponsors Manhattan Popcorn to 'Babewatch' on one white Lambo.
I had arrived in an Aston Martin DB9 thanks to Carzone.ie, one of the official partners to Cannonball. My DB9 was a 6.0ltr V12 proper supercar, which drew many admiring looks over the course of the weekend. I chose the DB9 over a Lamborghini Spyder due to boot space required by my passenger Clare Cullen (@Clisare) and all the requisite camera equipment to create an in-depth, behind-the-scenes documentary-style video of the ride.
Costumes are a big part of the Cannonballl Run, with those present on the first day including Spiderman, Evel Knievel, Thor, Khaleesi and the Baywatch Babes (driving the aforementioned 'Baywatch' lambo). Many other head-turning costumes made an appearance throughout the weekend. Winners of the Costume of The Cannonball prize turned out to be a group who had three outfits for the three days, starting with mobsters and ending with cowboys.
After drooling over the cars on show at the Three Arena for a few hours, it was time to hit the road. We got our first glimpse of a supercar traffic jam with over 106 supercars trying to get out of the Point Village at once, and this kind of traffic was to be repeated in parts of the country for the rest of the weekend - at one point, to allow a bus through Ballisadare!
Thanks to the accompanying Garda escort we flew through the Dublin Port tunnel and up the M1 bound for Bundoran, stopping only for a quick group refuel. The camaraderie continued like this throughout the weekend - no one ever stopped for fuel on their own!
After a quick lunch stop at a very grand castle we made it to Bundoran beach, where we turned the corner at the top of the street and were greeted with a sight that was simply amazing. Thousands of people lined the street, cheering and taking pictures; it was like arriving at a rock concert where you are the star. The stop was brief but featured an air show (!) and some of the Cannonballers jumping into the sea for a quick swim (as you do).
This kind of 'rolling circus' continued all weekend. We drove all day through villages and towns where hundreds of people would line the streets just to get a glimpse of the cars as they passed through. Sligo, in particular, was epic as we barrelled down small streets lined with people of all ages snapping away on their cameraphones and tablets.
It took so long to get into the parking that we got used to eating dinner after midnight, and we were usually hours late getting into most towns but that didn’t dampen the spirit of the crowds.
It was the best motoring experience I’ve ever had. The people at Cannonball - the spectators and the drivers - make the event. I made new friends, I went places I’d never been and got back to the basics of what car ownership should be about; fun.
Every day we went somewhere new, setting off in the biggest convoy you’ve ever seen. Sligo, Galway, Cahir, Tullamore and even Moneygall were visted by our rolling party with fun for all. There’s no other event like Cannonball, certainly nothing on this scale and if I have to sell a kidney I’ll be there again next year.
As I said all weekend, "It's Cannonball, baby!"