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Are you ready for Gumball 2015?
The Gumball 3000 Rally is a point-to-point road rally. It’s no Mille Miglia, but instead a hedonistic party on wheels for the world’s one-per-centers with a love of fast cars and a whole lot of money to burn.
Before you’re even considered for the entry list there’s a £60,000 fee to cough up. That kind of price draws a particular crowd: playboys, rappers, F1 drivers, sheiks, Silicon Valley millionaires, and people made of a silicon valley. It’s a smorgasbord of thick-walleted types, and this year Top Gear is joining the party.
We’ve grabbed a drive with Guess jeans - who’ve entered three Dodge Vipers, complete with models as co-pilots - to give you a feel of what the Gumball’s like from the inside.
Why? Because the public perception of the Gumball has been, it’s fair to say, ‘mixed’ since the rally’s inception in 1999, and we’re interested to see where it stands now.
The Gumball is the brainchild of British designer, former racecar driver and entrepreneur Maximillion Cooper.
Back in the late Nineties, Cooper invited 50 of his closest friends on a 3,000-mile journey from London to Rimini, Italy and back. With fast cars and names like Guy Richie and Kate Moss on the guest list, it was an uber-exclusive event envied by many. The cars were fast, the names were big, the parties were bigger and the overall attitude was ‘frankly, my dear, we don’t give a damn’.
From there, the Gumball’s fame swelled quickly. When the Jackass crew took part and released the footage as an MTV special, it was one of the music channels most-watched programmes.
But as it became ever bigger, the Gumball angered many who saw the drivers as irresponsible, glorifying intemperance and seemingly above the law. That was brought to the wider world’s attention when the 2007 Gumball 3000 rally was cancelled after two British drivers were involved in a fatal road accident in Macedonia.
That tragedy forced the Gumball to change, the organisers claiming it has matured and morphed into a ‘lifestyle brand’ with a rally attached. Has it? That’s what we’re here to find out.
This year’s route sees us leaving Stockholm, Sweden for Oslo, Copenhagen and Amsterdam before the vehicles are flown via Antonov, and the humans via a chartered ‘Gumball Air’ Jet, to Reno, Nevada.
There the nomadic party pack and exotic cars will continue on to San Francisco and Los Angeles before rolling into the neon-lit geographical embodiment of the Gumball: Sin City itself, Las Vegas.
Over the years a slew of celebs have joined the Gumball, including Matthew McConaughey, Jenson Button, Damon Hill, and, er, Martine McCutcheon.
But the glitterati competing this year would send the picture editor of the back pages of OK! magazine into a tizz. Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, DJ deadmau5, freestyle skiing champion Jon Olsson, as well as the staple members of the ‘Gumball Family’ - The Hoff, Tony Hawk, Xzibit etc - are all on it.
Due to the unique way Top Gear organises things - i.e not at all - we’re going in to the whole event completely blind. We’ve just got a plane ticket to the start, hotel for the first night and a return flight from Vegas in six days time. Anything could happen between now and then, and we could be clinging on the transaxle of a trailer to Vegas for all we know.
Oh, and if you think we’ve forgotten about the cars, we haven’t. When they hit the grid, we’ll round them up into a big ol’ gallery for you. So look out for that.
We’ll try to speak to as many eccentrics, celebs and Fortune 500 CEOs as we can, and get any questions you’ve got answered. So tap us up in the comments below and we’ll try and get them answered. But bear with us, as things are known to get a bit crazy round here…