Gumball 3000 Supercar Rally Returns to the UK [with Q&A]

Coincidentally, traffic police will be working overtime that day…

The UK and Ireland will both get their chance to see this year’s Gumball 3000 rally, the supercar rally for the rich and famous that invariably hits the headlines.

Brining supercars, fashion, music and entertainment to the streets, even if it does sometimes go beyond the boundaries of good taste (and even legality,) the rally will start in Dublin on Sunday 1 May, before heading up to Belfast, and then across the sea and north to Edinburgh. The next morning will see the cars depart for Manchester before aiming for London.

From there, the train of million dollar motors will visit Rust, Bodensee, Prague, Budapest and Sibiu, before ending with the mother of all parties in Bucharest.

Confirmed participants in this year’s rally include DJ Afrojack, Grammy winning rapper Eve, hip hop stars Bun B and The Alchemist, Knight Rider and Baywatch legend David Hasselhoff, Formula 1 racing drivers David Coulthard and Jean Alesi, New York artist Futura, and skateboarding icon Tony Hawk.

They’ll be joined by Team Betsafe, one of the rally’s longest standing participants, and their soon-to-be-announced celebrity drivers. Betsafe also sponsor the event, now in its 18th year, and chatted with founder Maximillion Cooper.

This year’s rally kicks off in Dublin, the first time Gumball 3000 has been to the city – what kind of response are you expecting from the Irish?

We’ve always had a great fanbase from Ireland, especially as our TV shows have been really popular there in recent years. The Irish have a real passion for cars and I’m anticipating an amazing turnout to watch the start. I love Dublin, it’s a great city and I have no doubt that it’ll catch “Gumball fever” that weekend!

Are there any destinations you haven’t yet visited that you plan to travel through in the future?

Despite lapping the world several times there are still many unexplored regions that I’d like to incorporate into future routes. Tokyo is perhaps my favourite city I’d like to include that currently hasn’t happened, but we ARE planning to take the event back to Asia in the near future; and at some point South America also needs to experience Gumball first hand!

The rally has grown hugely in popularity since the first in 1999 – what do you think have been the biggest changes over the years?

Back in 1999 the rally was a really small event for a few close friends and influential people that I’d got to know through my own racing driving and fashion career. Everyone drove their own cars on this unique road trip (a mixture of supercars, classic, luxury and eccentric vehicles) that attracted a small crowd of bystanders to look on. The media soon picked up on it, aided by the celebrity participant’s publicists and before long Gumball 3000 was gracing the covers of countless fashion, lifestyle, celebrity and automobile magazines all over the world. This perpetuated media and public interest and by the mid 2000’s after the hugely successful MTV Jackass Gumball Special (the most popular episode of MTV worldwide) the 6-day event had evolved into a public spectacle with hundreds of thousands of fans lining the streets of the rally each year.

But the biggest change over the past decade can be attributed to the technology evolution of camera phones and social media. Suddenly, everyone on the roadside could take pictures of the cars and celebrities, immediately share them, and instantly an audience all over the world could see what the Gumball was all about. This was game-changing!

Watching supercars and celebrities driving on public roads through towns and cities and multiple countries has proved to be one of the most successful content providers with easy access for YouTube, Instagram and multiple platforms. YouTube have even become an official event partner, utilizing our event to create and capture both professional and user generated content!

How do you see the rally evolving in future years?

From concept, the vision was always to create a lifestyle brand that could draw influence and an audience across cars, music, adventure, action sports, fashion and general popular culture. The rally came about simply as a way of bringing together these genres and influential people and to create its own niche. As the brand continues to grow, especially selling our own apparel brand in over 2000 sports/streetwear stores all over the world, the rally has already morphed from an underground myth into an established fixture of the automobile, action sports and music calendar, that all helps to support the merchandise, and multiple license deals that the Gumball 3000 brand has developed.

For the past 3 years we have hosted increasingly large scale music concerts during the evenings in each city throughout the rally for up to 500,000 people with artists performing that are also participants such as deadmau5, Afrojack, Steve Aoki, Tinie Tempah, Cypress Hill, Jamiroquai, EVE, Dizzee Rascal, Snoop Dogg and many more, that’s effectively created a unique “Gumball festival”.

The “Gumball Festival” will continue to grow as one of the largest live public events alongside the brand’s retail assault on the high street and on computer screens all over the world to become a multi faceted lifestyle brand of the future!

The rally has gained notoriety in previous years with the likes of Kate Moss and Kylie Minogue attending the exclusive after-parties, what has been your stand-out memory from the evening events?

Putting on a great party has always been one of our biggest strengths and in many ways helped build our ‘rock n roll’ reputation. We put on a party a few years back on a Friday 13th and I decided we had to have 13 different bands/artists perform throughout the evening in different areas and rooms of a derelict building that I’d rented. These bands included Massive Attack, Jamiroquai, Scissor Sisters, All Saints, The Happy Mondays and Joe Strummer from The Clash. When guests arrived I handed them either a ‘bottle’ of champagne or a ‘bottle’ of vodka (and a can of Redbull) and let them enjoy the night. I hadn’t told any of my guests who was performing, so as you can imagine this night will go down in the memoirs as one of the best parties ever!

There has been many high profile celebrities attending the rally during the years (Lewis Hamilton, Tony Hawk, deadmau5 etc). From the global celebrities who have not yet attended, which names you would be most excited to see in the rally this year or years coming up?

The best Gumball grids are always when the line up includes larger than life personalities mixing together that you’d never expect to meet or get along outside of Gumball…. such as Sheikhs hanging out with DJs, and bankers with graffiti artists!

There are definitely a few people out there that I’d love to experience the adventure and become part of the Gumball family, such as Leo DiCaprio, David Beckham, Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger and, despite his age now, how cool would it be to have Clint Eastwood on the rally?!

What do you have to do to win the coveted ‘Spirit of the Gumball’ award? Which team do you think will be in with a chance this year?

The ‘Spirit of the Gumball’ award always goes to the team that embraces the event in the spirit that it was always intended…. it’s not about racing or having the fastest car; it’s about camaraderie, playing up to the fans, contributing to the show and basically just going with the flow of what can be an incredibly gruelling and disorientating endurance….the ‘Spirit of the Gumball’ is now voted for on social media during the rally and will most likely go to the ‘Team’ that gives the fans what they want to see!

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Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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