He's still energetic, positive, and passionate. He's still selling exotic sports cars to enthusiasts all over the country. He now has a baby on the way, due in September. He is very much not incarcerated. And he has no regrets about the two days last year he spent breaking thousands of laws in more than a dozen states across the country.
Six months have passed since Ed Bolian and co-conspirators Dave Black and Dan Huang completed their record-setting transcontinental journey, travelling from New York to Redondo Beach, California, in 28 hours and 50 minutes – at an average speed of 98 miles per hour. Almost immediately after my original article on the run went live, I started to get dozens of questions from readers: Were they arrested? Were they ticketed? Will the record ever be broken? What's the best car for the job? I recently sat down with Ed to get some answers.
Let's start with the question I get most often: no, they weren't arrested. In fact, they weren't ticketed, their GPS data wasn't subpoenaed, and they didn't even hear from any tough-talking law enforcement agencies who threatened Ed and co-driver Dave with arrest should the pair ever return to their jurisdictions. In fact, Ed's closest brush with the law came weeks after the fact, when he was driving the 2004 Mercedes CL55 AMG that had been used to set the record.
"A local police officer pulled me over," Ed said. "When he came up to my window, he said, 'Ed, is that you?' It turns out that he just wanted to check out the car."
If you ask Ed, he'll tell you that the main reason he thinks he and Dave weren't subject to any legal scrutiny is that it would just be too hard to figure out who was driving. Sure, you could get the GPS data to prove that the car was moving at a certain speed in a certain place. But then you'd have to prove which driver was behind the wheel – a tough task, given that you'd have no eyewitnesses and two men who could hardly remember when they did their stints in the driver's seat.
But while there may not yet have been any legal consequences for his lawbreaking, many people were very upset with the whole idea of a cross-country speed record. ("Mostly tree huggers," Ed says with a chuckle.) Some called the Lamborghini dealer where Ed worked, angry that they would employ such a reckless lawbreaker – even though their business depends on selling sports cars designed to exceed the legal speed limit in a matter of seconds. Others made it more personal: they called his cell phone. Ed tells me he still isn't sure how they got his number.
"One guy called me," Ed recalled. "He said, 'Is this Ed Bolian, the guy who set the cross-country record?' I said 'Yeah.' He said, 'Well, I don't believe assholes like you should be allowed to breed.' I had a lot of fun with guys like that. I tried to keep them on the line as long as possible."
Of course, it wasn't all angry calls. Ed also got e-mails, letters, and phone calls from people all over the world congratulating him on his achievement. Many wanted to hear more details about the record-setting run. Some wanted an interview.
"The day the article went up, we couldn't do business," Ed told me, referring to the never-ending stream of calls the dealership received from all sorts of interested people, ranging from supportive fans and concerned citizens to acquaintances he hadn't heard from in years. And, of course, from reporters.
One by one, Ed agreed to the interviews. The story was featured prominently on CNN, and included on Inside Edition. He flew to New York for the Today Show, where he met fellow Lamborghini aficionado Jason Statham. He did more than a hundred radio interviews. To this day, Ed says, the dealership still fields four or five calls a week from people who want to talk to "the guy who set the record."
"One kid came in when I was at lunch," Ed told me. "He sat at my desk for an hour until I came back, just so he could meet the guy who broke the cross-country driving record."
Interestingly, all the publicity had another effect: it boosted business. While Ed's bosses were initially perturbed by the overwhelming attention, they changed their attitude once they realized that the month following the record-setting run entered the books as the dealership's best ever. Ed personally sold nearly 20 cars that month. He also told me that, since the article went live, a handful of people have visited the dealership solely to buy a car from "the guy who broke the record."
Speaking of fast cars, it's hard to deny that "What car would you use to set the record?" is one of the most often-discussed topics among any group of car enthusiasts. In the comments section of the original article, there were hundreds of suggestions, ranging from a Cadillac CTS-V Wagon to a Ferrari; from a Tesla to an Audi A8 TDI. I asked Ed to weigh in on the issue after six months of perspective.
"Diesel won't work," are the first words out of his mouth, owing to the dozens of people who told him he should've used a diesel-powered car. "It's not enough power."
According to Ed, the issue is this: thanks to the aftermarket fuel tanks he installed in the CL55's trunk, fuel range wasn't a problem. Even if a diesel car could shave off an entire fuel stop, he says, it would only save a few minutes. Instead, Ed says that the real key is quick acceleration from 60 to 130 miles per hour – after passing a slower vehicle, for instance. And that's why gas mileage is less important than a high-powered engine like the one in his CL55.
"And brakes," he says. "Carbon ceramic brakes would be very useful."
Ed also notes that air suspension is absolutely essential, largely due to the huge fuel tanks mounted in the trunk. I didn't realize it initially, but he's absolutely right: gas weighs around six pounds per gallon, and Ed's tanks allow for a 67-gallon capacity. The result is 400 pounds of fuel sloshing around behind the cabin. Ed likens it to two adult men standing in the trunk for the duration of the journey.
Another issue is the physical toll this trip takes on a car. Ed says his CL55 is in "bad shape," noting that the Active Body Control pump is internally disintegrating, the car needs brakes and tires, and there are dozens of rattles that weren't there before he left the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan. Interestingly, he says he's heard from Mercedes-Benz USA, and they love the fact that he used one of their cars – though they could never officially condone such a public act of lawlessness. After lunch, we head outside to check the engine: the plaque says it was hand built by Marco Weissgerber, who has certainly made Affalterbach proud.
So what car would Ed do it in, if he were given an unlimited budget?
Initially, he suggests a Porsche Panamera Turbo with ceramic brakes, though he notes that would mean building a partition in back to keep gasoline fumes out of the cabin. He also tosses around the idea of a Bentley Super Sports, though he says the car's high profile would mean too many other drivers would be tempted to call the police. In the end, he's surprisingly noncommittal on this question – and I get the feeling he wouldn't want to do the trip in any car besides his CL55.
Not that it matters, Ed tells me – because he doesn't think the record can ever be broken.
I get the sense that this thought doesn't come from a position of arrogance. Instead, it comes from Ed's belief that he got lucky – really lucky – with what he calls "slot machine variables" that may never again repeat themselves.
One of the most important variables was Ed's co-driver, Dave Black. Though Dave had some high-speed driving experience before he embarked on the record-setting cross-country trip (he's one of Ed's customers at the Lamborghini dealership), he wasn't aware of the storied history behind the all-out run. He didn't know about previous races like the Cannonball Run or the US Express, and he barely knew of Alex Roy – factors that Ed thinks helped Dave to focus on overall speed, rather than setting a record.
"He didn't know how difficult it would be," Ed tells me, "so he didn't know not to do it. He just showed up and drove fast."
But Dave's driving wasn't the only thing that went right for the group. They also encountered no traffic and no construction. They didn't get pulled over. They had no car trouble. There was no bad weather. Slot machine variables, indeed.
"You could give me ten tries, and I don't think I'd be able to do it that fast again," says Ed.
So what's next for Ed? The previous recordholder, Alex Roy, wrote an excellent book on his own cross-country run entitled The Driver: My Dangerous Pursuit of Speed and Truth in the Outlaw Racing World. Ed says he's kicked around the idea for a book, and he tells me that he's in talks for a movie – an exciting proposition to bring the story to a wider audience. Still, I get the feeling that even if nothing else happens, Ed will be content with simply having achieved his cross-country dream.
"I didn't do it to get famous," Ed says, noting that he's only well-known among a really small, dedicated group of car enthusiasts who care about this sort of thing. "I did it because it was fun. It was cool. I wanted to break the record."
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.