After a quarter of a tank, our ETA drops by a few minutes while average speed increases. Long intervals of silent, focused speeding are interrupted by CB chatter, scanner blurbs and junk signals picked up by the Valentine. The M5 feels like it owns the road-stable, secure, deceptively quiet, more eager than I am to go faster. The only limitations are the headlights. The car is simply out-running them, especially on long, drawn-out sweepers at speed. High beams can only be used when there aren't any cars in sight, which isn't often. I suggest to Roy that he change the stock fog lights for some driving lights.
We swap again at the next gas stop. Roy maintains the progress we've made. Our average speed is now equal to Diem and Turner's 32:07 time. We may even beat the West Coast's Monday morning traffic. Halfway through my third stint, fatigue starts to take over. Hours spent trying to see in front of the headlights has left me drained (gas station food stops haven't helped, either). Roy wakes up, opens a can of iced coffee and prepares for the final leg from Prescott, Arizona, to Los Angeles.
On his record-breaking run in October 2006, Roy had to make up time lost due to bad weather and an ill-judged gas stop, and this time it seems the dread of Angeleno traffic is spurring him on-or maybe he's trying to re-live that last stint. He goes on to average 100 mph for the rest of the drive, but we don't beat LA traffic.
Had we continued at that pace, we would've done 1,400 miles in 15.5 hours. If you double both numbers, that would be equal to running the route in the neighborhood of 32 hours. To be honest, it wasn't that hard.
That's not to say what Roy and Maher did was easy. After 15.5 hours, Roy and I felt the early effects of fatigue and sleep deprivation-the brain fade, the slowed reaction times, the hallucinations, the delirium, the speaking in tongues. Roy and Maher would feel the effects exponentially with each extra minute of sleep deprivation during their 31-hour run.
I ask Roy which was more important-skill or luck? He says all the skill in the world won't make it without luck and all the luck in the world won't make it without skill. He threw in a third factor, preparation, an area in which he has few peers. Roy practically walked the route using Google Earth, looking for potential police hiding spots and adding the locations to pace notes.
He's often asked if his record can be broken. He responds, without hesitation: "Yes." And when asked if he'd do it again, he often pauses before saying: "No, not likely." Sounds like someone looking for a bigger, more outrageous challenge than a mere 2,800 miles can provide.