#FlashbackFriday To How Two Canadians Drove Around The World, Breaking World Record

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Forty years ago, a Canadian duo channelled the spirit of Jules Verne's famous novel 'Around the World in Eighty Days' by setting out on a daring worldwide road trip that would take them around the globe.  

The mission? To break the Guinness World Record for fastest drive around the world, which at the time stood at 102 days. Yesterday,19NOV, marked the 40th anniversary of the date that longtime friends Garry Sowerby and Ken Langley accomplished that legendary goal. 

Sowerby and Langley, both now in their 70s, set out on the adventure of a lifetime from Toronto’s CN Tower on 06SEP, 1980, with nothing but a compass and a paper map for directions, and a station-wagon supplied by Volvo (affectionately named Red Cloud).

The rules were that the same driver had to be behind the wheel the entire time, they had to drive the circumferences of the earth (about 40,000 kilometres) and cross the equator at some point. Sowerby decided to take on the role of driver, while Langley would be the navigator.

Flights wouldn’t count in the final mileage tally, but the clock would still be ticking while the duo was in the air.

They made their way west across Canada to British Columbia and then south to Los Angeles, where they flew into Australia.

As the duo made its way through Asia and west to Europe, the trip was anything but smooth. They encountered road blocks at every turn, from battling the sweltering Australia heat, to dysentery in India. And the pair also had to drive around conflict zones.

Sowerby and Langley zig-zagged around Europe and eventually made it to London, where they caught a flight over the Atlantic Ocean and into Houston.

But the North American leg wasn't any easier.  Fatigue had set in, and Sowerby's leg was causing him intense pain after being on the throttle for 65 days. 

Battling doubts that they might not be able to complete the mission, the duo managed to power north to Canada. Langley says it was their friendship that got them through that final stretch.

The pair finally pulled up to the CN Tower on 19NOV, 1980 to the flash of cameras, the rolling of film and much fanfare.

The Guinness World Record verdict? They did it. After 74 days, one hour and 11 minutes, the duo successfully drove around the world and shattered the old record by about a month, and even Jules Verne's fictional feat.

The most impressive achievement? Not one speeding ticket.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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