Cannonball, also known as Carquake, is a 1976 film starring David Carradine. The film is one of two released in 1976 (the other being The Gumball Rally) that were based on a real illegal cross-continent road race that took place for a number of years in the United States. The same topic later became the basis for the films The Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run II and Speed Zone! The movie was written and directed by Paul Bartel, who also directed Death Race 2000.
The name of the film and the plot were inspired by Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker, (1882-1960), who travelled across the USA several times, and by the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, an illegal cross-continent road race introduced by Brock Yates to protest against the 55 MPH speed limit.
The Trans-America Grand Prix is an illegal race held every year between Los Angeles, California and New York, New York. David Carradine plays a recently released convict, Cannonball Buckman, trying to restart his automobile racing career by entering the race. Buckman is still on parole and if he is caught in the illegal race he will go back to prison; his best friend also enters the race with an identical car and an identical paint job to try and run cover for Buckman.
The race degenerates into a violent demolition derby as contestants use any means at their disposal to try and eliminate the competition. It culminates in a multiple car pileup in New Jersey.
Martin Scorsese, Roger Corman, and Sylvester Stallone have cameo appearances.
Summary via Wikipedia.