Thanks for all the feedback, and I am glad so many people have enjoyed reading the updates and viewing the pictures either through our email list or through our site at www.darkcydracing.com of our latest Bullrun event. Both the Lotus and the now infamous Navi are now being shipped back to Florida from Cali, and as soon as I get the Lotus back I will determine the extent of the damage by Bomber Bart on the Vegas to Cali leg. Thanks also to Karl Franz for his suggestions on getting the Lotus fixed. With that said, more than a couple people who have read about our crazy adventures have asked my to compare the different rally events, either because they themselves want to participate in one, or just to get some perspective. I will try to provide the main differences, because they are all somewhat different, and certain events are more suitable than others.
Gumball 3000- This is the first major event we did, and what an eye opener it was. It was basically the first modern Cannonball type event which started in Europe by Maximillian Cooper in 1999, and has been to the states a couple of times, although it is mostly known in Europe, where it is as well known as any motorsport event Of the three major Rallies which are Gumball 3000, Players Run, and Bullrun, this is clearly the hardest, and yet the most well known. We drove for the first 24 hours straight to the first checkpoint in Marbella, Spain with only a 15 minute stop in Madrid. Also the fact that that rally almost always starts at night with all night driving depriving people of sleep, is an assault on the psyche. Maximillian Cooper likes to consider this first stage the endurance and weeding out stage. When we were done with that first stage, a full 50 cars out of 180 were unaccounted for. I think the fact that he saves one nights hotel costs for over 400 people is the main reason for doing this, plus the weeding out process saves the organization quite a bit of money. Somewhat a similar philosophy of the Paris Dakar, although one cannot compare such events. The main reason to do Gumball is to understand what it is like to be a Rock Star for a week. Rolling into cities such as Vienna for example, with an estimated 200k fans, or even the starting point in London this year with over 100k fans to see the launch, is an experience few people in the world can ever understand. With that said, the experience involves so much driving in the fewest days, there is little time to socialize and meet the 400 or so other insane entrants from all walks of life, which is one of the main reasons you do such an event. Nobody who does such events is really normal, and to have the opportunity to meet so many other eclectic, eccentric people, is the major attraction. It also does its best to attract as many stars to the event as possible like Tony Hawk, Daryl Hannah, Adrian Brody, Jason Priestley, Jodie Kidd, and lots of B listers. I couldn’t care less about this aspect, but apparently others like the star quality. They always hype people that are supposed to be on the event and never show, but do consistently bring in others. Gumball has also gotten a little out of touch on pricing in my opinion with entry fees now approaching 70k dollars just to enter. It is almost impossible to justify such costs, especially considering the other alternatives, which previously did not exist. regardless, it is a once and a lifetime experience if money is no object.
This is the upscale version of modern Cannonball Rally Events organized by Markus Lex, after he did Gumball 3000 and sought ways to improve it with his first event in 2003. He continued the tradition of being selective to the types of people who would run in the event so he had a good eclectic group, but also made some significant improvements. One seemingly easy one that no other organization has done is have a luggage van. While this does not seem significant, when you are running several thousand miles in an exotic sports car, with about as much luggage space as an overnight bag and a toothbrush, it is shocking to me only his organization handles this. To top it off, Markus’ staff made sure that all your luggage was actually in your room prior to arrival. When one has run 5,6,700 miles a day, its nice to not have to worry about hauling all your crap up to the room, so you can just turn around and haul it back down in the morning.
Markus and his group focused the most on treating people like customers and not just people who should be thankful that they were admitted to the event. His event also focuses on other cool things such as police escorts throughout to track events etc., and incorporating helicopters and Yachts into it to keep things different. The hotels involved were all the highest quality and most consistent such as the Fairmont San Francisco, and the Mondrian in La for example. Gumball had us sleep on the most disgusting overnight ferry with no air conditioning , and decrepit conditions crossing the Straights of Gibraltar, as an example of accommodations that were entirely not acceptable for the type of “glamorous” event it is billed as. Markus was the most approachable organizer of the event and truly wanted to put interesting people with each other. Max in contrast, would not even return a phone call in Spain when another fellow Gumballer needed help and had a question about crossing into Africa that only Max could answer. The main negative for Americans is that up until now all the Players Run events have been in the U.S., meaning tickets and potential arrest are significant liabilities. I have good reason to believe next year will be in Europe, so this will not be issue for any American participants. The other small drawback although is it is the shortest in time frame by 1-2 days. With all the prep that goes into participating for these rallies, including prepping, shipping, and getting the necessary issues resolved to participate, another couple days would make it more worth it. It is also the most social event by far, with more time to actually meet and share stories of the days with other entrants in order to make the most out of participating in such an event. I can honestly say I have met several people because of Players’ Run that I expect will be life long friends. Without the opportunity to interact with people, this would not have been possible. It is also the cheapest ironically, and the costs were about 10k last year for entry, which is ironic since you get the highest level of hotels, service etc. If Europe is confirmed for Pr 07, I expect we will do this event with our entire Darkcyd group.
Bullrun which is the most recent event we did, was a pleasant surprise. founded by Andrew Duncan and David Green, this is the second most high profile event, which is a spinoff from Gumball 3000 in which David Green was Max’s right hand man for many years. After Team Darkcyd entered the 5 car team, I only later saw the movie of the 04 event, and was dreading my decision. The 04 movie showed of bunch of immature juvenile delinquents constantly making crude sexual gestures, and lots of topless women also making crude and stupid gestures, that I wouldn’t want to see for free. If this was emblematic of the event I was going to be on, I wanted no part. fortunately it was nothing like the 04 movie. The longest event of the 3 major modern rally events was 8 days total, was much cooler and hipper with a diverse crowd. The driving was not as insane as Gumball since it was spread out but we did end up with over 4k miles on the event. Because it was cross country, a lot of the roads were interstate which could not be helped. players run, designed the itinerary based on great roads. Also, like Gumball the problem was not enough time to socialize with all the interesting people to really share experiences and bond. Like Gumball and probably because this event was being filmed for spike TV, there was a focus on star power, and people like Carl Lewis, Mario Anderetti, Hayden Christiansen, and Corey Feldman were technically on the rally but only Lewis did the entire trip. I only saw Feldman at lunch after the first checkpoint freaked out that it was not quite the party he expected and with no navigation, maps, enough gas, he seemed very stressful. I never saw him again at that point and assume the stress put him back in rehab. He later showed at the final party in La and I am positive he flew there by plane.
The hotels were inconsistent but better than Gumball, and while the Hotel Gansevort, and the W in San Diego were top notch, Ceasors Palace and most of the others were just blasé. They also did some unique things which should be noted such as a special police escort to get us back across the border which normally would have taken all of us a half a day, and by including stage acts such as the Cuban Brothers to spice things up, it sure did bring some unique aspect to prove this is more than an auto rally. It is also competitively priced at about 14k,although that still will prohibit most entrants. I would do this event again, and the only thing they are sorely lacking is a luggage van. both Andrew and Dave were approachable, and seemed like good guys.
In summary, all of the events have something to offer and I think all of them could be considered once in a life time experiences for many. none of them are easy, with lots of driving and little sleep, and the potential for tickets, arrest, or in some cases worse, but for the adventurous auto enthusiast should be tried at least once if for no other reason than to say you did it. to read the daily summaries of these events as they were written in real time, and to see pictures and video, please visit www.darkcydracing.com . I also am glad to answer any questions regarding the events.