Gumball 3000

Gumball 3000

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.

Founding of Gumball 3000

Gumball 3000 was founded in 1999 by Maximillion Cooper. Cooper invited 50 of his wealthiest friends to take part in a 6 day 3000 mile drive around Europe, partying every night. The event started off with a wild party with some of Londons A-list including Kate Moss, Guy Ritchie, Billy Zane, Chris Eubank, Dannii Minogue.


In 1933, motorcycle racer "Cannonball" Baker crossed the United States from coast-to-coast in approximately 54 hours. In the 1970s, Car and Driver founder and editor Brock Yates started the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash in his honor. The second race was won by Yates and Dan Gurney, a former Formula One and Le Mans driver, driving a Ferrari Daytona. They needed about 36 hours to transit from New York to L.A. These events inspired the 1976 movies The Gumball Rally and Cannonball, as well as sequels including Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run II, etc. The "Cannonball" race eventually was canceled in 1979 due to a combination of media attention and pressure from political influences and police organizations who were concerned about road safety.

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 original rally featured 50 of Cooper's friends, and travelled from London, to Rimini, Italy and back, passing through Paris, with a stop at the Chateau d'Esclimont. Lapping the Le Mans race circuit, a checkpoint followed at the Mas du Clos Ferrari Museum, before moving on to Monaco Grand Prix circuit in Monaco, the Ferrari Factory in Maranello, the Ambras Palace in Austria and the Hockenheim Grand Prix Circuit in Germany before returning to London to cross the finish line on Park Lane. The winner drove a 1963 Jaguar E-Type. Other drivers included actors Billy Zane in a 1965 Aston Martin DB5, Jason Priestley in a Lotus Esprit V8 and Dannii Minogue in a Porsche Boxster.


The second rally was held in May 2000. Beginning at Marble Arch in London and continuing to Stansted Airport, where all cars and people were airlifted to a private airport in Spain. The rally then progressed through Bilbao, Cannes, Milan, Hotel Bühlerhöhe Castle near Baden-Baden (Germany), the Nürburgring GP circuit and Hamburg before returning to London. Notable entrants included drum and bass legend and James Bond villain Goldie in an Aston Martin V8, It girl Tara Palmer-Tomkinson in a Jaguar XK8, Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds in a Bentley, the indie band Placebo in a Lagonda, the Happy Mondays all crammed into a 2+2 Jaguar, and Maximillion Cooper in the famous Bentley Arnage 1WO.


The third rally, held in April 2001, featured 106 cars, including Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and Chris Pontius, the hosts of Jackass, driving a 1989 Jaguar XJ6; F1 World champion Damon Hill driving a Lamborghini; comedian Vic Reeves in a Mercedes-AMG; Lord Montagu of Beaulieu in a Blower Bentley and Maximillion in an original Shelby Cobra. The rally progressed from Hyde Park Corner in London to Berlin, Malbork, Vilnius, Saint Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen before returning to London. Kim Schmitz finished first in his Mercedes Brabus SV12 Megacar. Select portions were broadcast as an hour-long Jackass Gumball 3000 Special on MTV and received the highest viewer ratings of the year. Ruby Wax also broadcast coverage of the event for terrestrial TV in the UK on BBC1, and wrestled with Chris Pontius.


The fourth rally was held in April 2002, the first to be held outside of Europe. Beginning in New York and finishing at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, the rally passed through a checkpoint at the White House in Washington DC before stopping in Memphis, Tennessee for lunch in Elvis Presley's Mansion, Graceland. After receiving a Dallas Cowboys welcome in Texas, stops were made at the Cadillac Ranch; Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Grand Canyon; and Las Vegas, Nevada before the final stop at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills where Hugh Hefner and playmates awarded trophies. Entering the contest were 175 cars, including a 1960s Corvette painted in the Stars and Stripes that received an award for best car, the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder similar to one used in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off that was bought at a cost of over $1m just to take part in the Gumball, as well as American muscle cars and modern day supercars. Fashion designer Donna Karan, models Amy Wesson and Rachel Hunter, and actor Matthew McConaughey were among the participants.


The fifth rally was held in May 2003, with more than 100 cars beginning in San Francisco, California with a finish line in Miami, Florida. The rally passed through Reno, Nevada; Las Vegas, Nevada; Tucson, Arizona; White Sands, New Mexico; San Antonio, Texas; Houston, Texas; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Featured entrants included Jackass' Ryan Dunn racing a rental car alongside skateboard legends Tony Hawk and Bam Margera in a Dodge Viper, Bucky Lasek, Motocross World champions Travis Pastrana and Carey Hart, and supermodel Jodie Kidd. Cars included a mix of Ferrari F50s and 360s, Lamborghini Murcielagos, a Koenigsegg CCX supercar and Jesse James' customized VW Eurovan. Alex Roy won the Gumball Spirit Trophy in his Team Polizei BMW M5, outfitted with German Police equipment. Top Gear reported that the Koenigsegg CCX holds the fastest speeding ticket in the United States, which allegedly occurred in May 2003 in Texas. It was supposedly 242 mph (389 km/h) in a 75-mph zone. The "Fastest Wheels" award was presented to Rob "Lonman" Kenworthy in a Porsche GT2, with the "Special Award" presented to Richard and Sue Rawlings, owners of a heavily modified Chevy Avalanche.


The sixth rally was held in May 2004 in Europe, fielding 192 cars. The rally began at the Eiffel Tower in Paris and transitioned to Biarritz, Madrid, and Marbella before crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Africa. In Marrakech, Morocco, entrants were guests of the King before returning to Spain for the Barcelona Grand Prix and finishing at Cannes for the film festival. Former boxing world champion Chris Eubank drove a truck, while The Pianist Academy Award winning actor Adrien Brody favoured a Porsche, the 'Ai Ya' Boys rented a Winnebago RV, and Rob Dyrdek and Big Black drove the rally in a rental car. Gary Lutke and John Docherty won the coveted Spirit Trophy in a Citroën 2CV, and the Style Award was presented to Alex Roy's Team Polizei 144, dressed as Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Safety Award was presented to Torquenstein for surviving a near fatal Dodge Viper crash in Morocco. An all woman team piloted by Allison Cornia (MTrouble) and Cassandra Dungan (Porsche 911 Turbo X50) were awarded the Technomarine Timekeeper's Award. Former Champion jockey Richard Dunwoody and journalist Clement Wilson entered in a Volvo V70R and wrote an account entitled "Our Gumball Rally" published by Virgin Books, and the rally is documented on the Gumball 3000 DVD.


The seventh rally originated at Trafalgar Square on May 14, 2005, and progressed 3000 miles from London to Brussels, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and onto to Dubrovnik in Croatia. The cars then were transported by ferry to Bari, Italy, followed by a transit of the Targa Florio circuit in Sicily, before heading north to Rome and Florence. The finish line was in Monaco's Casino Square prior to the F1 Grand Prix. Participants included Daryl Hannah, rock stars and supermodels driving vehicles ranging from the Dukes of Hazzard General Lee to Ferrari Enzos and Mercedes-Benz SLRs.

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:


Gumball 3000 does not publish time-based figures for participants, who, by their entry contract, are legally barred from time-based competition. The main award is the so-called Spirit of the Gumball Trophy, which is awarded to the competitor that came out of the rally as the most positive and uncontroversial.

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.

Official Spirit of the Gumball Trophy Winners

Year Winners Car
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
2007 gokay Turkish Taxi
2008 Jason Levine 2002 Nissan Maxima

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