The Cannonball Centennial Ride To Honor Erwin ‘Cannonball’ Baker Starts Today

cannonball1Today Saturday May 3, 2014 marks the centennial of Erwin Baker’s record-setting transcontinental motorcycle ride in 1914 on an Indian V-Twin. A trip so impressive that a New York newspaper writer compared him to the Cannonball Express train and he picked up the famous moniker that would stick with him the rest of his life.

Don Emde and Joe Columbero have created the Cannonball Project debuting today to honor the history of that ride. Working from Baker’s actual written accounts, this event is retracing the route taken by Baker in 1914. The plan is to tell the story of his ride on a day-by-day basis, and to research what roads and routes existed at the time and match them to what exists currently.

This morning May 3, 2014, a group of about 25 other riders will depart downtown San Diego at 9:00 a.m. PT to begin the Cannon Ball’s Trail Centennial ride to New York City. One century ago, on May 3, 1914, Erwin Baker, a motorcycle racer and enthusiast from Indianapolis, Indiana, left downtown San Diego, California on a twin-cylinder, 7 horsepower Indian motorcycle en route to New York City. Baker’s goal was to break the existing cross-country record of 20 days that was held at the time. The plan was to beat the record by three days. Amazingly, not only did Baker break the record, but he did it in even less time that he had envisioned. He arrived in New York City just 11 1/2 days later on May 14th!

cannonball2Among the riders taking the same itinerary, Robert Pandya, External Relations Manager for Indian Motorcycle, was given an engineering department development Indian that could never be sold, and was basically destined for the crusher. The suspension was stiffened up and an early prototype air filter was fitted to the engine. Most of the mods were eliminating things – the windscreen, saddlebags, driving light and fender skirts. As the bike had seen a rough testing life, the chrome was attacked with a Scotchbrite pad and some 80 grit sandpaper – it might as well be evenly scratched up! The click of rattle cans marked the paint job as a “back alley special.” Robert will be be posting up trip photos and words via the Indian Motorcycle Social media feeds. After the jump, The Cannonball Centennial Ride Itinerary.

Friday, May 2, 2014 • 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Sign-in / Show & Tell / CBCR bike and vendor displays / Rider’s Meeting • Cycle Visions, 4263 Taylor St., San Diego 92110 (Old Town area of San Diego)

Saturday, May 3, 2014 • 8:00 a.m. Opening ceremonies / group photo at Sunroad Resort Marina, 955 Harbor Island Dr., San Diego 92101. Ride begins at 9:00 a.m. sharp. Destination: Hilton Garden Inn, Yuma , AZ • 6:00 p.m. Yuma Welcome Reception and Ranch BBQ, Yuma Prison Museum, Yuma, AZ.

Sunday, May 4, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart Hilton Garden Inn for Mesa, AZ. Destination: Country Inn & Suites, 6650 East Superstition Springs Blvd, Mesa, AZ 85206

Monday, May 5, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Socorro, NM. Destination: Best Western Socorro Hotel & Suites, 1100 North California St., Socorro, NM 87801.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Santa Fe, NM. Destination: Holiday Inn Trinidad, 3130 Santa Fe Trail Dr., Trinidad, CO 81082

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 • 7:30 a.m. Depart for Dodge City, KS. Destination: Dodge House Hotel, 2408 W. Wyatt Earp Blvd., Dodge City, KS 67801

Thursday, May 8, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Kansas City, KS. Destination: Best Western Premier KC Speedway Inn & Suites, 10401 France Family Dr., Kansas City, KS 66111.

Friday, May 9, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for St. Louis via Lexington, MO • 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Lunch for CBCR riders at Donelson’s Cycle in St. Ann, MO. 3:00 p.m. Depart for Greenville, IL. Destination: Econo Lodge Inn & Suites, 1731 South SR-127, Greenville, IL 62246. Reception in Greenville.

Saturday, May 10, 2014• 9:00 a.m. Depart for Indianapolis, IN. Destination: Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, 350 West Maryland St., Indianapolis, IN 46225

Sunday, May 11, 2014• 9:00 a.m. Depart for Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We will then depart for a quick stop at the Baker family plot at the nearby Crown Hill Cemetery.Destination: Holiday Inn Express & Suites, 2800 Taylor Rd., Reynoldsburg, OH 43068.

Monday, May 12, 2014 • 8:30 a.m. – Ride to the AMA headquarters and Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum for tour of the museum • Depart 10:00 a.m. We have been invited by K&C Cycle, the Yamaha dealer in Hebron, OH to make a coffee stop on our way east out of Columbus on U.S. 40. Depart for Greensburg, PA. Destination: Marriott Greensburg. 700 Power Line Dr., Greensburg, PA 15601.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Malvern, PA. Stop at Gettysburg Battlefield & Museum. Destination: Courtyard by Marriott, 280 Old Morehall Road, Malvern, PA 19355

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 • 7:30 a.m. – Depart for Manhattan. 11:00-11:30 a.m. Arrive at Battery Park for a patio lunch at the Battery Gardens Restaurant.We will then proceed from Battery Park and ride from Manhattan north to the town of Newburgh. Destination: Hilton Garden Inn Newburgh/Stewart Airport, 15 Crossroads, Newburgh, NY 12550

Thursday, May 15, 2014 • Motorcyclepedia Museum: 250 Lake St., Newburgh, NY 12550

14 Responses to “The Cannonball Centennial Ride To Honor Erwin ‘Cannonball’ Baker Starts Today”


  1. 1 Kirk Perry May 3rd, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Don’t drink coffee, unless you plan on making a lot of unplanned pit stops. Were it me?…. I’d have one of those trucker caps with manifold-connected water bottles on each side and a suction tube and a hookah strapped to the headlight. Try me. I’d have fun first. 🙂

  2. 2 Brandon May 3rd, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Would love to belong to this group.

  3. 3 BobS May 3rd, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Hmmm, is that a pre-production development bike used for Chief R&D…or is it a pre-production Scout???

  4. 4 P. Hamilton. May 3rd, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Evidently a pre-production Chief (easy to identify) or you would not get a chance see it.

  5. 5 Doug May 3rd, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I hope that is not what a Scout will look like. Have a great ride

  6. 6 Robert Pandya May 4th, 2014 at 12:15 am

    That IS a pre-production Chief. NOT any sort of Scout teaser.

    We did cut down the stock fenders and I do believe the front fender in particular looks pretty cool! I would like another shot at the rear fender – but part of how it looks is due to the bike being topped out on stiff suspension for maximum ground clearance. I do have another rear fender…

    I also ditched the driving lights and moved the turn signals to the fork cowl directly. All that work was done in a couple weeks and some late nights. Of particular note is the prototype Saddlemen seat and the bash plate and exhaust fabricated by the very talented and tenacious Jeb Scolman of Spirit of Munro fame.

    I hope that if one of our stops is near you that you come out to visit – there are some great people on this ride including Chris Carter from Motion Pro and Randy Aron from Cycle Visions San Diego. Randy rode a stock FXR with knobbies mounted – his first time in the sand and he flew!

    Thanks for reporting Cyril and team – see you down the road.

    Robert Pandya
    External Relations Manager
    Indian Motorcycle

  7. 7 Gerald Tims May 4th, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Arrived at Yuma,AZ with all the other cannonball riders what a great job Don Emde and crew have do to make this ride happen.Last night we,were treated with a great dinner.the same dinner Eriwn Baker had,at the same time 7.30 at the Yuma Prison Musuem thanks to Gina and all the great people here in Yuma that hosted us.Off cross the dirt roads of AZ for day 2

  8. 8 Buster May 7th, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Cool seat!

  9. 9 John May 7th, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Man I hope that’s not a future model, it’s ugly and awkward looking. Something like a Dyna SuperGlide would be great.

  10. 10 Robert Pandya May 8th, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    John – Please read the story – it’s not a production intent bike. It’s a bike customized off of a pre-production “doomed” motorcycle that was modified specifically for this trip.

    Robert Pandya
    External Relations Manager
    Indian Motorcycle

  11. 11 chicagojohn May 10th, 2014 at 4:13 am

    Robert you were right when you said you had something cool planned! Nice that you are able to get some use out of the old test mule, have a safe trip.

  12. 12 Gene Ingram May 11th, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Don and guys, It was fun riding with you guys today and having lunch at Frickers in Richmond, Indiana. Here’s wishing you a safe trip and know you enjoyed the Air Force museum.
    Gene

  13. 13 nicker May 13th, 2014 at 12:43 am

    Robert,
    That motor is drop-dead gorgeous.

    You-all should set the rest of the scooter up to showcase it.
    I do hope you have a better rear fender.

    Good luck with it.

    -nicker-

  14. 14 Robert Pandya May 21st, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Made it! Only problems were a poorly installed front tube that was tire -iron pinched in 5 places and eventually leaked – (nice to pay for crappy service huh?) and a short that was traced to my bad install of a Dynojet harness – one more zip-tie would have helped me as the harness came loose on the Arizona washboard gravel roads and shorted against the hot cylinder head. Once found the bike ran flawlessly.

    I was the only rider without a windscreen and with an open face helmet – a bit of a regret when Mid-Western bugs started to impact my cheeks! I was the only rider on an Indian – and I KNOW that Cannon Ball Baker would have been happy with that.

    The Prototype Saddmen seat was a real life saver given the super stiff suspension. Way comfortable also. Highly recommended that they go to production with some minor tweaks.

    Anyway – thanks to you all for the support and interest – hopefully in another 100 years that ride will happen again and they will look back to see that Indian Motorcycle was on the trip and again part of history.

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