They kept humming west, and as they neared the Texas-New Mexico border, they calculated they might beat the 30-hour mark, a sort of Holy Grail in transcontinental racing that Bolian likened to the four-minute mile.
Never one to settle, "we decided to break 29," Bolian said.
The unnamed tracking company says the Benz pulled into the Portofino Hotel and Marina in Redondo Beach, Calif., at 11:46 p.m. on Oct. 20 after driving 2,803 miles. The total time: 28 hours, 50 minutes and about 30 seconds.
"Most of the time, we weren't going insanely fast," Bolian said, not realizing his definition of "insanely" is a little different from most folks'.
When they were moving, which, impressively, was all but 46 minutes of the trip, they were averaging around 100 mph. Their total average was 98 mph, and their top speed was 158 mph, according to an onboard tracking device.
"Apart from a FedEx truck not checking his mirrors before he tried to merge on top of me, we didn't really have any issues," Bolian said.
Do not try this at home
He concedes his endeavor was a dangerous one, especially when you consider Bolian slept only 40 minutes of the trip, and co-driver Black slept an hour. But Bolian went out of his way to make it as safe as possible, choosing a weekend day with clear weather and a full moon -- and routes, when possible, with little traffic or construction.
"I had plenty of people at home praying I'd make it safely, and, more importantly, had my wife praying that I wouldn't have to do it again," he said, adding he has no children, which was also a factor. "That was one of the spurs to go ahead and get this over with. That's probably the next adventure."
Asked if the technological advances since the previous record holders made their run gave him an advantage, Bolian replied, "Absolutely." Because two teams broke the 32-hour mark in 2006 and 2007, he had a detailed "guide book" on how to do it, where they had to rely on word-of-mouth tales from the 1980s.
"I thank Alex for that. We're all adding chapters to the same story of American car culture," Bolian said. Alex Roy did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Bolian had hoped to revisit that high school interview and tell Yates he'd followed through on that promise to break his record, but Yates now suffers from Alzheimer's.
"I'll pay him a visit just for the sake of it," Bolian said, "but I can't tell him."
Where the Cannonball scofflaws aimed to make a statement about personal freedom, Bolian said he has the utmost respect for law enforcement. His goal was merely to "add myself and pay tribute to this chapter of automotive history," he said.
Bolian also hopes that he shattered Roy's record by such a stark margin that it discourages would-be Cannonballers from attempting to break his record, and it's not just a matter of his own legacy, he said.
"It really isn't something we need a whole band of lunatics doing," he said.