The Truth About the 48 State Driving Record
“Anyone who attempts the 48 state drive record and does not abide by our rules (especially having more than two drivers and not having the necessary logs) is like a person who goes out and hits from the lady’s tees, does not count their penalty strokes, doesn’t even keep score and then tells their friends they played golf and shot a 72. They played something but they did NOT play golf and they certainly didn’t shoot a 72.”
Guinness Representative, 1998
In 1991, three men set out to set the Guinness Record for driving through the 48 states in the fastest time. Their time was 5 days, 7 hours and 15 minutes. They made the trip in 7217.8 miles.
On September 5, 1994, Jay Lowe, Ted Jacobs (drivers) and Kerry Maples(navigator) “officially” broke that record with a time of 118 hours and 15 minutes. “Officially” is the operative word as Guinness awarded them a certificate verifying that they obeyed ALL nine rules set by Guinness for this event. This certificate hangs in the offices of each of these participants. That same year, Guinness chose to no longer publish this even, leaving Lowe, Jacobs and Maples the last “official” record holders, as presented by Guinness, for this event. They received front page stories in almost all major newspapers including the Dallas Morning News. They made the trip in 7,190 miles.
In 1997, Lowe and Jacobs set the Guinness Record for driving through the 48 states using the least amount of fuel. They received a full page spread in the 1998 Guinness Book of Records, page 37.
In 1998, the editor for Car and Driver magazine set out to break what he thought was the official record of 5 days, 7 hours. While he admitted to using three drivers, which breaks rule number six of the Guinness rules (you can only have TWO drivers and you have to have a navigator who cannot drive) plus not having the necessary documents as spelled out in those rules, he did make the trip in 115 hours. He ran a six page spread in his own magazine describing his trip. He made the trip in 7,344 plus miles.
In 1999, Lowe, Jacobs (drivers) and McCaleb (navigator) set out to “officially” break their existing record of 118 hours and 11 minutes while also breaking the very much “un-official” time of the editor for Car and Driver. In June of 1999, they completed their trip in 104 hours and 57 minutes while keeping all nine of the original Guinness rules. 104 hours and 57 minutes is now the official time for this event. They made the trip in 6,766 miles.
In the past several years, there have been many attempts to break our record. Each of these have been “un-official” in that all of the participants have admitted to breaking at least one of the original Guinness rules. Even Guinness told Lowe and Jacobs that while they do not publish the event, they do recognize by letter those who make the attempt and abide by their rules for this event. “This is to keep the event ‘pure’”, one Guinness representative said. Lowe and Jacobs can testify, along with the 1991 record holders, that only under the strict rules of this event can anyone truly say they have “attempted” and “accomplished” to break the record for this event.
The same Guinness representative put it this way, “Anyone who attempts the 48 state drive record and does not abide by our rules (especially having more than two drivers and not having the necessary logs) is like a person who goes out and hits from the lady’s tees, does not count their penalty strokes, doesn’t even keep score and then tells their friends they played golf and shot a 72. They played something but they did NOT play golf and they certainly didn’t shoot a 72.”
In June, 2010, Lowe, Jacobs (drivers) and Andrew Shull (navigator) will set out to break their record again. “This time we want to put this record way out of reach for future attempters” said Lowe. “In addition to a new route of 6,550 miles, which is everything in this event, plus new strategies, we believe we can set the new record somewhere between 96 and 98 hours. Just as important, we will continue to keep the original Guinness rules in order to keep this event ‘pure’ for those in the past who have kept them and for those in the future who want to attempt to break our record.”