Take the beach bodies and party atmosphere of Miami, mix in a bit of new- and old-world money, add a dash of celebrity, a field of high-performance rides dripping wet with over-the-top style, and of course – lots and lots of speeding. Stir it all up, and you’re still only partway to the crux of what makes the Gumball 3000 the world’s most over-the-top rally.
The impetus for the event goes back nearly four decades to the 1976 film, The Gumball Rally, which in turn drew inspiration from the iconic Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, and portrayed a flat-out, coast-to-coast race that was big on excitement and scarce on rules.
In 1999, British skateboarder/entrepreneur/designer Maximillion Cooper brought that concept to a new generation with the inaugural running of the Gumball 3000. The event saw a few dozen entrants embark on a 3,000-mile sprint across Europe, starting in London and passing through Rimini, Italy before dashing back to Blighty in only a handful of days.
Entry was a rather affordable $8,700, and provided the opportunity to bump shoulders with the likes of Kate Moss and Guy Ritchie, among other celebrity competitors to have taken the trip over its lifetime. It’s not that hard to understand why the event was successful.
Popularity of the road-rallying spectacle grew and grew over the subsequent years, eclipsed only by the cars entered in each year’s event. Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris commonly line the field, though the event has seen a replica of Batman’s Tumbler, the custom-built Rebellion R2K supercar, and a Koenigsegg CC8S that reportedly nabbed the world’s biggest speeding ticket – the brisk competitor was nicked during the 2003 event in Texas for going 242mph.
Those not terribly interested in 200mph supercars still partake for the legendary parties and concerts, held nightly at each stop of the event. In 2002, the Gumball 3000 made its North American debut with a dash from New York City to Los Angeles. Entrants partied it up the whole way with stops at Memphis’ Graceland and in Las Vegas, ending with a night at the Playboy Mansion.
Aside from handing out speeding tickets like Monopoly money, the 3000 has had its share of tragedy. In 2007, an entrant’s Porsche 911 Turbo collided with a VW Golf at over 100mph, killing the driver and his wife. The rally was cancelled shortly after that.
But thankfully, the spectacle continues to live on. The 2014 event sees the party winding from Miami to Ibiza, and at this time of writing, drivers are working their way from London to Paris. The cost for entry? A lofty $70,000, but for the chance to globetrot with the glitterati, perhaps it’s a bargain.