Over the next few weeks, we are going to take you from the genesis of the endurance road trip to the modern international road rally. Each day we will share a bite sized history lesson about the development of this motorsport. We hope that you’ll join us for this absolutely fascinating ride.
Our last post discussed the story behind Maximillion Cooper’s failed bid for an F1 Gumball team and the 3,000 mile party that resulted. Today we are going to dive deeper into the early rallies, specifically the 2000 Gumball 3000. Given that the Gumball 3000 was never anticipated to be an annual event, the information is spotty at best. Piecing the stories behind these rallies is a difficult task. Much like the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash and U.S. Express, it would take a few years for the cameras to warm up. Still, through diligent forum scouring and decade-old websites, it was clear that the personality of the Gumball had been forged by the second rally.
In 2000’s rally, Gumball founder, Maximillion Cooper drove Bentley Arnage 1WO. This was one of 86 cars and three motorbikes to take part. Nearly every luxury car maker was represented in this race, with a proper allotment of Aston’s, Bentley’s, and Jaguar’s driven by Britain’s social elite. The cars made such a commotion at the starting line that the traffic warden began writing tickets before the cars even took off!
Much like the 1999 rally, the second Gumball was as much about style as it was about driving. In an interview with The Times in 2000, Cooper went on record as saying, “Gumball is about the mix of people we get — you know, rock stars, racing drivers, models — it’s about the rock ‘n’ roll attitude.”
The Gumball 3000 commenced in May at Marble Arch in Hyde Park, London. After waving the starting flag, the cars roared an hour north up the M1 to Stansted Airport where they met up with, and were loaded on, two massive Russian cargo planes. Once the Lamborghini’s were sorted out from barely squeezing inside the plane, the rest of the Porsche’s, Ferrari 360, 355, F40 and 550s, three Ducati’s, the planes took off and went on to carry each team to a private Spanish Airport. The teams took a separate chartered 737 plane and Gumballers proceeded to skateboard down the aisle throughout the flight.
This freight-transport of rally cars was the first of its kind and would be copied by future rallies for years to come. It was an unprecedented move. The rally would still cover 3000 road miles, just not consecutively. The idea opened the doors for global rallies spanning continents. A route was no longer confined by physical barriers.
Once landing in Spain, the planes took three hours to drop their cargo off. Two Ferrari teams found this process quite boring and decided to have an impromptu drag race along the airport runway! Bilbao quickly learned the Gumball way.
Numerous cars had already bitten the dust before leaving for Cannes. A 70’s Dodge Challenger, A Ferrari F40, firing on only 4 cylinders, but still good for 140mph, a 3200GT Maserati, a 95’ Corvette, and a 1960 E-type Jag were all left in the Guggenheim car park. The Cannes festival was filled with parties on and off land. When the rally woke up the next morning they were one Lamborghini Diablo short! Unfortunately for one team, thieves had stolen it in the night. Nevertheless, the Gumball raged on.
Milan was next, followed by Hotel Bühlerhöhe Castle near Baden-Baden, where it was announced that two teams had their cars taken by the German police and imposed record fines on each of $30,000 for doing over 200mph through heavy traffic and 50mph zones. The party continued, and one man was said to have run up a bill of over $15,000 in four hours.
The rally then made a stop in Hamburg, Germany day before gunning it back to eastern England to tour the Lotus factory in Norfolk. The 2000 Gumball once again ended in London, this time at the St.Martins Lane Hotel. Prizes were awarded to all in the shape of a bust of Burt Reynolds - the original Cannonballer.
Our next post will discuss the 2001 rally, and the cult following that turned “The Gumball” into a spectacle worth watching.
- Gumball3000.com – 2000: http://www.gumball3000.com/history/2000
- Gumball-3000.com - 2000: http://www.gumball-3000.com/category/gumball-3000/gumball-2000/
- GTSpirit.com: Gumball History: http://www.gtspirit.com/gumball-rally-history/
- Wikipedia – 2000 Gumball 3000: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gumball_3000#2000
- Gumball 3000 - http://www.theautochannel.com/vehicles/new/reviews/motorcycles/2001/nfrankl_gumball_3000.html