It’s been called the world’s biggest, craziest moving car show. Though constantly conjuring memories of the 1982 Burt Reynolds comedy The Cannonball Run, the Gumball 3000 is a decidedly more posh, yet perhaps equally wacky event – an annual favorite of E3 Spark Plugs. And this year, it’s celebrating its 15th year.
The 8-day competition across Europe revved up Saturday with launch party in Copenhagen, Denmark and will take competitors across the continent with stops in Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Austria, Italy and Monaco. Members of the 115 driving teams are quite the motley crew, consisting of film, music and sports celebrities, multi-millionaire Internet gurus, a Latvian soap opera star, a 3000-bout undefeated masked Mexican wrestler and two guys recently disqualified from NASA’s space program. Participating celebs include Pimp My Ride star Xzibit, rap star Eve, actor David Hasselhoff, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, pro wrestler John Cena and Swedish skiing phenom John Olsson, among others.
While the antics of such a cast of characters are sure to be entertaining, it’s the cars that are the real stars of the show. A few notables are Team Galag’s Batman-inspired Tumbler, Olsson’s Ultima GTR Rebellion R2K, Xzibit’s Bentley, a Rolls Royce Phantom, Morgan Aero SuperSport, Jaguar F-Type and Murcielago SV.
Often referred to as the rich guy’s Cannonball Run, the Gumball 3000 actually was inspired by films like Two-Lane Blacktop, Vanishing Point, Bullitt and Le Mans. But we’re guessing its moniker was inspired by 1976′s The Gumball Rally, a film about a 3000-mile illegal road race across America with a disparate mix of international drivers driving exotic cars on public roads. Today’s Gumball 3000, founded in 1999 by British entertainment and fashion mogul Maximillion Cooper, also covers 3,000 miles and a host of colorful characters. But this show is set in Europe and is legally legit.
Also, organizers stress that it’s not a race, per se, but a road trip adventure. You won’t win a prize for being the fastest or flashiest. In fact the winners are the various charities that will benefit from seven celebrity auctions. Up for grabs: an electric light cycle just like the one featured in the movie Tron; Olsson’s XGames-winning skis; a Knight Rider steering wheel signed by the Hoff himself; and a day with Tony Hawk and your 10 best friends at Hawk’s personal training facility in San Diego, Hawk Headquarters and the new Birdhouse Skatepark, including a private session on the famous Boom Boom Huckjam ramp.
Who’s your favorite to watch in the Gumball 3000? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.