The Gumball 3000 is an annual 3000 mile (5000 km) international rally which takes place on public roads, which travels around the world. Although set up as a rally with no official timing, or prizes for reaching check points first, during the rally, some participants have been fined for speeding and other traffic offences by the police in countries they passed through, cars have been confiscated and the 2007 rally was cancelled after a car participating in the rally was involved in a fatal collision with a non-participating vehicle. Although the organizers are careful to emphasize that it is a rally and not a race, it is sometimes referred to as a race on public roads.
Drawing inspiration from the 1970s race, the aforementioned movies, as well as the movies Smokey and the Bandit and Vanishing Point , Maximillion Cooper revived the spirit of the old races in the summer of 1999 by combining the driving element with nightly parties and layovers at luxury hotels. The "Gumball 3000" has since captured public attention through celebrity participation and widespread coverage including CNN, MTV, the BBC, Esquire magazine, FHM magazine, and George Gurley from Vanity Fair, who rode with 2003 "Spirit of the Gumball Trophy" winner Alexander Roy through Morocco during the 2004 Rally.
The Spirit Trophy was awarded to Sue Bellarby and Kathy Huddart, whose Caterham 7 broke down just shy of the finish line. The two were transported to the finish line by Gumball legend Alex Roy in his "Guardia Civil" Team Polizei BMW M5 who finished 2nd dressed as a Spanish cop. The year's unofficial winners were Greg and "Kalbas" in a 2004 Mercedes CLK-DTM, who edged out a week-old Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren because a tire was destroyed just short of the finish line.
The 2006 rally was the most ambitious of any Gumball 3000 rally, starting in London and finishing in Los Angeles just 8 days later. The organizers flew all 120 cars from Europe to Asia and on to the USA in 3 Antonov An-124's and an Icelandair passenger Boeing 757. The rally began on April 29, 2006 in Pall Mall, London, and continued on to Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade. The drivers then boarded a plane in Serbia and landed in Thailand for the rally's second leg between Phuket and Bangkok. The final leg occurred in the United States between Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, via Las Vegas, where Snoop Dogg performed live at the Gumball party.
Entrants included Jackass stars Ryan Dunn and Bam Margera, driving Margera's 'Billy Idol' customized Lamborghini Gallardo; Tony Hawk, Mike Vallely, and Rooftop Escamilla in a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8; blink 182's Travis Barker drove his Rolls Royce Phantom with Swizz Beatz; Dirty Sanchez used a Japan-Tuning style Nissan 180SX; Dan Joyce, Matthew Pritchard, and Love Actually star Martine McCutcheon drove a pink Range Rover; and American television host Matt Johnston drove his custom 2006 Dodge Charger, among Gumball's regular assortment of eccentrics, celebrities, millionaires and billionaires from all over the world.
Team Polizei's Alex Roy & Michael Ross dominated Gumball 2006, arriving first in Belgium, Vienna, Budapest, Furnace Creek and Beverly Hills, even beating Gumballers that skipped the intermediate checkpoints. Team Polizei, suffering from both Ed Leigh's sabotage and accident damage in Thailand, did not participate in the Thailand leg and made a surprise visit to the Burmese border, where pictures were taken with border guards who thought Team Polizei were UN inspectors.
Torquenstein returned despite his serious accident in the 2004, driving a rally ready Ford GT. Modifications included a smoke screen, lazer jammers, radar survalence and three GPS units. Torquenstein and navigator Dr Gruene (Eric Ward) arrived second in Belgrade, eighth in Thailand and arrived simultaneously to finish on the final stage with the Team Polizei Bentley driven by Alex Roy and Michael Ross.
The Spirit Trophy was won by Damian Williams, Richard Blackburn & Ezra Chapman of Team 15, who crashed a camouflage Rolls Royce Phantom at approximately 160mph just north of Belgrade. The team allegedly rode 500+ miles in a cab across Thailand, then received a brand new Rolls Royce Phantom in Salt Lake City and drove to the Beverly Hills finish line. Upon arriving at the Playboy Mansion with the twisted grille from the first Phantom, Hugh Hefner presented the duo with a fitting trophy, a Gumball machine.
The 2007 route was scheduled to travel from London to Istanbul, via Amsterdam, Munich, Tirana, Dubrovnik, and Athens. Over 100 contestants were scheduled to drive through 16 countries in 8 days. The entrance fee for the 2007 rally was GB£28,000 (US$55,060) for first-time drivers.
Upon arrival on April 29 in Holland, the Dutch police met the participants with 14 police cars and 7 unmarked cars. Seven drivers including rapper Xzibit lost their driver's licenses for speeding 50 km/h over the legal limit and two cars were confiscated. The Dutch government has forbidden streetraces by law, although rallies that are performed within the law (i.e. participating in a rally without a competitive element) are not forbidden. The next day, the German police stopped about 70 cars for speeding violations; they were escorted off to the airport. A police spokesman told the media that the information about the route had been available on the official Gumball 3000 website. After Germany, the rally was due to continue from Istanbul. The participants were flown to Istanbul, but the Antonov planes carrying their vehicles were diverted to Athens. The drivers were flown on to Athens, though four teams (Team Polizei, Team Turkish Taxi, Team Aytac, and Team 15) chose to drive the distance in other vehicles.
On May 2, a traffic accident occurred near the town of Struga, Republic of Macedonia. The Techart Porsche 911 Turbo of Nick Morley and Matthew McConville hit an oncoming Volkswagen Golf, in court the prosecution alleged a speed of 161km/h (Other reports contend a speed of 200 km/h or more, while others doubt such a speed would be practical given the poor road conditions). According to media reports, they fled to a nearby border post in a BMW M6 with Russian car number plates, where they were arrested by the police. The casualties reported in the accident were the 67-year old driver of the other vehicle, Vladimir Chepunjoski, who died on his way to the hospital, and his wife Margarita Chepunjoski, who died in hospital from injuries sustained in the crash on May 4. The organisers initially continued the rally despite the incident, in a later official statement the organisers stated that the clear details of the incident and confirmation of a fatality didn't occur until some hours after the briefing, at which point the decision to cancel the remainder of the rally was made.
Nicholas Morley was released from custody on £17,000 bail, but was later re-arrested in Skopje while attempting to flee the country using a private jet. The subsequent court hearing found Morley guilty and convicted of "endangering traffic, leading to death and was released from custody after receiving a two-year suspended sentence. After the verdict Morley's family released a statement detailing its own expert's findings, which contradict those of the prosecution's expert. The statement also claims that the defence were denied the opportunity to present their expert's findings, which could contravene article 6 of the European convention on human rights, the right to a fair trial. However, he did not appeal the verdict.
The 2008 10th Anniversary Gumball 3000 Rally will take place in August. Cars with neutralized carbon emissions are preferred and proof will be required. The entry fee is £60,000 ($120,000US). The start line will be San Francisco, proceed through checkpoints in Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, flight to Nanjing (Drivers stopping over in Pyongyang), Shanghai, and finally finishing in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games. Celebrities officially confirmed this year include:
However, unofficial time-based results are commonly compiled and verified on the internet by fans through ALK/Copilot GPS timelogs/tracks, from eyewitness accounts, and from the official forums of the Gumball 3000 . In 2005, Gumball 3000 signed a sponsorship deal with ALK-Copilot, who provided publicly-available method of tracking Gumball participants en route in near-real time. Each car was provided with a bluetooth-enabled GPS Navphone with a transponder, making it easier to track Gumball participants.
|1999||Luke Craft & Dylan Murray||1999 Light Car Company Rocket|
|2000||Tom Brudenell Bruce||2000 Ferrari 550|
|2001||Kim Schmitz||Mercedes-Benz Brabus SV12 Megacar|
|2002||Mark Croker & Rory Sweet||Ferrari F50|
|2003||Alex Roy & David Maher (Team Polizei)||2000 BMW M5|
|2004||Gary Lutke & John Docherty||Citroën 2CV|
|2005||Sue Bellarby & Katie Huddart||Caterham 7|
|2006||Damian Williams, Richard Blackburn & Ezra Chapman||Rolls Royce Phantom|
|2008||Jason Levine||2002 Nissan Maxima|
|title=Gumball 3000 (PS2) |accessdate=2007-05-04 }}