The Time-Capsule Tech That Helped Set a Coast-to-Coast Driving Record

Back in 2006, Alex Roy set a coast-to-coast driving record in a E39 BMW M5 loaded with cutting-edge tech. My how times have changed.

byMike Spinelli|

Nearly 13 years ago, Matt Figliola took on a challenge to outfit the ultimate coast-to-coast speed record car with the latest radar, radio, GPS, and performance technologies. The project was for The Drive's Alex Roy, who'd rolled into Matt's shop Ai Design after he'd decided he would take a shot at the record. At the time the record stood at 32 hours, seven minutes, set back in 1983. Alex had a basic idea of the tech he wanted. 

But that wasn't all. Because the run would be documented for film—and these were the pre-GoPro days—the car was equipped with the best "lipstick cameras" of the day, which would be connected to digital tape machines to capture roadway footage. The quest for the coast-to-coast driving record is the subject of a new APEX documentary, APEX: The Secret Race Across America, set for release in April, 2019.

Now, Alex covers next-level automotive technologies for The Drive, but in this episode of AFTER/DRIVE we stop by Ai Design to look back at how Matt and his team outfitted Alex Roy's E39 Polizei BMW M5, with tech that's now 13 years out of date. 

Team Polizei M5 Tech List:

2000 BMW E39 M5

Kelleners Sport Exhaust

Kelleners Swaybars

Uniden PRO520 XL CB Radio in custom overhead mount

Specterguard Anti-Photo License Plate Covers (Front and Rear)

Dinan Stage 1 Chip

Brembo GT Brake Kit (Front and Rear)

L3 “Night Driver” Thermal Camera (Front Bumper) with twin Alpine 7″ displays custom installed for driver and co-pilot

V1 Laser/Radar Detector with concealed Display

Blinder M40 Xtreme Laser Jammers (Front and Rear) with display integrated into V1 concealed Display

3x Antennex Custom-Tuned Scanner Aerial 2′ long each

1x Antennex CB Aerial 4′ Long

UUC Short Throw Shift Kit

Garmin 2650 GPS Unit with Dead Reckoning and Roof Mount Antenna

Garmin 2730 GPS Unit with XM Radio NavTraffic, Roof Mount Antenna and

Internal XM Antenna

Nav-TV Integrated in OEM-Dash display

Whelen Pro Siren/Lighting Control Panel

2pr Whelan LED Strobes (Front Bumper) (Red/Blue/Green/Yellow)

4 corner Whelan White Strobes (headlights/brake lights)

2pr Whelan LED Strobes (Rear headliner) (Red/Blue/Green/Yellow)

14 12V power outlets (8 Front, 6 rear)

Uniden BC796D Digital TrunkTracking Scanner (Dashtop)

Uniden BC396D Digital TrunkTracking Scanner (Handheld) with “Close Call” Proximity Alert

Uniden BCT8 Analog TrunkTracking Scanner (Dashtop)

Rear Floor Mounted Fire Extinguisher

Mount for Air-Ground Handheld Radio

Dash-mounted speedometer GPS-verified and slaved to wheelspin

SPEC Racing Clutch & Flywheel

Recaro Seats with 5-point harnesses


Uniden BC796D w Digital Trunking, 1000 channels manually programmable

BTC8, Analog Trunk Tracking with 250 channels manual programmable, and built-in highway patrol frequencies, searchable by state, and with audible and visual alert

BC396D handheld, 6000 manually programmable frequencies and Digital trunk tracking, and “Close Call” Proximity Alert

All three have external trunk mounted antennas, custom tuned for maximum reception range using Antennex brand antennas.