Monday, May 01, 2006
I’m Maximillion Cooper, the host and proud founder of the rally which kicked off for the eigth consecutive year on Pall Mall yesterday to the sound of thousands of people, the roar of over a hundred of the world most rock and roll supercars, and some dodgy music coming from Goldie Looking Chain’s Bedford Rascal!
Since then the 240 Gumballers have crossed beneath the channel, driven through France into Belgium where we stopped at the beautiful Blois Chateau at about one in the morning for dinner. To my surprise hundreds of crazy Gumball fans had waited up for us, a naked girl even tried to get into my car…so guys you know where to come! We then set off to our next check point, breakfast in Vienna and again crowds and crowds of fans lined the streets, motorway bridges and side road hedgeways al the way, I know that to me and all the Gumballers this support really makes the 28 hour drive worthwhile!
So then that was us on the way to our last checkpoint in Europe, the mighty 4 seasons overlooking the Danube in Budapest, yes you guessed it, another few thousand fans thronging the streets all the way in.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
So Gumball fans – it’s the end of a long and eventful Tuesday here on the rally and wow what and event it’s turning out to be! I can’t really begin to describe the things I’ve seen and the emotions I’ve felt this year, the guys in Budapest are fantastic, cheering us on and waiting outside the hotel for the Gumballer’s to turn up even though it was a rainy wet cold bank holiday Monday – The “Fuel‿ cars regular checkpoint firework display certainly made a good impression.
After a quick and much needed power-nap; Julie and myself joined the Gumballer’s for a great party at Moulin Rouge, one of Budapest’s finest venues for some dinner and dancing to the music of the Ministry of Sound DJ’s and a set from the infamous Cuban Brothers. Early the next morning the beautiful square that the Four Seasons Hotel dominates will be awoken to the cacophonous roar of the supercars tearing out on the way to the final leg of their European Adventure…..Belgrade.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
As expected – there were less fans this morning – that’s a 7 o’clock start for you and we did hit a bit of traffic on the way out of Budapest but the drive down to the border for the next checkpoint was beautiful – the countryside is very unspoilt down here – and to my surprise – hundreds more fans lined the bridges all the way there! Sometimes there were just fields and field as far as you could see and yet still there were people out to cheer us on our way past – I don’t know where they all came from!!
The border crossing was great – the Serbian guards were pleased to see us and again there were guys out to see us but once in and on the roads we were really going well and making a good pace towards our checkpoint.
But then, unfortunately we had some bad news on the way – a glorious Rolls Royce Phantom was written off shortly after we had crossed the border – luckily the mighty car protected it’s passengers perfectly – prompting the driver to get out and rue his decision to be insured as 3rd party only! The passengers safe, the Rolls towed, the Gumballer’s carried on to one of the most spectacular aspects of the rally so far – the crowds of fans lining the streets of the Serbian capital and site of former horrific bombings in the 90’s – Belgrade. Seeing the amount of people out to welcome us really put in perspective how much the people around the world love to see a collection of supercars – we estimate about a million people were there to welcome us in, all giving us the thumbs up, asking for stickers and welcoming us to Serbia generally – wow – I’m still getting over it – the Police there had to be the most welcoming of all – after they trapped one or two Gumballer’s with their Radar guns they pulled them over to show them exactly how fast they had been going before sending them on the way.
So then it was off to Belgrade Airport where the cars were loaded onto three enormous Antonov transporter planes and flown to the next stop – the Gumballers and I made our way to the Icelandic Air 757 waiting for us with a great hand picked crew and settled down for a sleep – or some of us did anyway…waking up the next day in the heat of a country as yet untouched by Gumball wheels! Thailand!!
The heat hit you as soon as you got off the plane – where we met and taken to one of the best hotels in the world – The Amanpuri on the incredible island of Phuket. It truly is a glorious hotel consisting of lots of little huts on stilts overlooking the beautiful blue sea – with a day to chill before a great party on the beach the Gumballer’s all relaxed in different ways – none car related though as the Antonov’s didnt land until a little while after us. A day sleeping on the beach is just what’s needed after the miles we have covered so far and have to cover tomorrow; a 700 mile trip from here in Phuket up via a fantastic checkpoint into Bangkok where it will be time to board our Iceland Air 757 again – this time America bound.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
What a rest! A full day at The Amanpuri Hotel on the beautiful beach of Phuket!! Well deserved too – we’ve done our endurance leg, and we’ve endured a really – really long flight with a lot of Gumballer’s in high spirits too! So after we arrived in Phuket and had our day on the beach, the Gumballer’s all met at the beack in the evening for a true Thai style full moon beach party, with great food and a great DJ!
The next day, with a few hung over passengers, we set off to Bangkok – having come off the Antonov’s with only a quarter off a tank of petrol the local gas station saw off a super car motorcade like it had never seen before – after a slow start and obviously driving slowly through the windy roads (apart from the “Flash Lamborghini‿ that split a tree in half!) the Gumballer’s made their way to a huge and beautiful bat cave where we had some lunch before setting off for a final leg to Bangkok where we had more treats in store. Namely – The Oriental hotel – with 120 super cars lined up outside we checked in and then made our way via a little boat across a little river to where there was a great Thai dinner set to live Thai music and a Thai boxing and dancing demonstration.
A few drinks down, and full on beautiful food a few Gumballer’s made their way into Bangkok for a few more – I think with the intention of knocking themselves out for the flight tomorrow!
Friday, May 05, 2006
An early start this morning, and a police escort through Bangkok to the Airport where the Antonov’s were waiting to load up again- this time the flight was even more of a monster, 2 stops, the first in Japan and the second in Alaska where I’m pretty sure a few Gumballer’s actually ate the Reindeer dogs on offer, only a short stop though before hopping back onto Gumball Air 1 straight to Salt Lake City.
Arriving at our hotel we were checked into pretty quick, the guys that “lost‿ their Phantom in Serbia had a new one waiting, and we were all rushed to our rooms to get ready and looking smart to go to the first West cost screening of MI:3 with Tom Cruise – another Gumball first. I’m having a pretty quiet night- the premiere was great but I need some rest now after all that driving and flying – tomorrow is a big day – The Miller Race Track!
Saturday, May 06, 2006
We were bussed to the Antonov’s this morning, cars waiting, a good crowd, news vans, the whole works, even choppers flying around the get the Gumballer’s leaving. Our first checkpoint today was at the incredible Miler Race Track where the Gumballer’s could take their own cars around the track to get out some of their frustration from the American freeway 55 mph limit! A really hot day, loads of people, helicopters buzzing around over head and a great lunch – and the fact that we were driving on the forthcomiing American F1 track – hence we beat Schumacher over the finish line – not bad going for one day – but we couldn’t hang around – we had the Bonneville Salt Flats in our sights – as I’m sure you know – these particular flats are home to many a failed, and successful land speed record attempt – obviously we weren’t going to try that but what was obvious was that a huge natural skid pan was too much to resist for certain Gumballers – one of the sights of the day had to be a classic white 911 and a new white 911 turbo racing around the flats doing donuts – I’ll never forget it!
From then on it was hard driving through some classic scenery straight to the famous desert oasis of Las Vegas – I convoyed with Bill and Gary in the 911 turbo straight through little towns and big desolate spaces until we saw the lights of the strip and pulled up in front of The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with about half of the other cars already waiting for us – and what a scene we were greeted with – just what you would expect from Vegas, big crowds, loud music, and gorgeous girls wearing very little cleaning the cars in the car park – what more could you ask for?? Exactly – a night out!
And what a treat we had in store for the Gumballers tonight – shepherded through the crowds they were taken into a huge concert hall, The Joint, Vegas style where Big Snoop Dog and all his crew played a great private set. As you can imagine, when that ended, the night did not – a lot of the Gumballers were seen heading to the tables – well with just one night in Vegas you just have to don’t you!
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Getting up this morning was hard to say the least – it was a really great day yesterday, to drive and see what we saw and then have Big Snoop play live was incredible, probably the highlight of the tour for me so far, and they aren’t kidding when they say Vegas is the city that doesn’t sleep! But what better motivation to get up that to drive right through the heart of death valley in a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti!!
First stop – Furance Creek, an hour or so outside of Vegas, another oasis – I saw some of the footage from the helicopter and the Furance Creek Inn where we stopped for lunch is a place the size of a large house, with lovely green grass and palm trees and a pool – not to mention a great lunch but surrounded by miles and miles of flat lifeless land – it could be on the moon it’s so desolate!
The Ferrari is saying the air temperature is hitting 45 degrees sometimes – glad I’m not in an air cooled car – I even have to turn the air con off because the car is overheating – I cant describe how mad it is here – one of the lowest points on earth at a few hundred feet below see level – yes – we are driving at below sea level – it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before and it really makes it seem like months ago that we were in rainy grey Belgium but it is only a few days! Keep driving though – LA is calling and the final party….
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Getting to LA this evening brought mixed feelings – on the one hand a sense of great achievement – 3000 miles, 3 continents, amazing scenery, great parties and every other benefit from this event but then also a sense that I am going to have to wait another year before I can feel this again- think next week is going to be a huge come down – I’ll miss the sound of the guys revving their engines for the crowds!
There is light at the end of the tunnel though – pulling into Rodeo Drive. It’s been closed off especially for this event and the LA crowds were great of course, the Americans just love to see the type of cars that the Gumball brings with them, you don’t see many Nobles and Ultimas here! And then we see it…. the chequered flag – that’s it, the driving done, the rally over – one last thing to do before Julie and I start working on next years rally – which I promise is going to be on to remember – and that is to get the Gumballer’s to the lovely Beverly Hilton to get showered and changed – there are coaches waiting for us – you probably already know where they are going to take us – there is only really one place in the whole of the US that could do justice to the final blow out – the party of the year – the Gumball Final Night – yes – the fabled Playboy Mansion.
Of course we take a few cars up to the mansion – what better sight for the guys on the coaches behind than a few Ferraris and Lambos, the Playboy Mansion and a bunny or two (or three…). It’s great to be back here – I had almost forgotten what an atmosphere this place has – the famous pool and of course the grotto. But before we have a chance to take too many drinks on board we assemble in the marquee where I have to give the guys a full de-brief – well done all of you – you drove well, arrived safely and I hope keen for next year – a few awards to give out too – and naturally Mr Hugh Heffner himself is the obvious choice to give out this years “Spirit of the Gumball” award. Of course it went to the 4 game guys who lost their Phantom in Serbia, hitched through Thailand and had another one waiting for them in Salt Lake – that’s the spirit guys!!!
A great deal with Absolute Poker also offered the chance to win a million if you were lucky with the poker cards. I’ll have to let you guys check the forums to see what happened for the rest of the night, I’m putting my lap top away now, there are drinks to drink and bunnies to pet!
Thanks for reading, Julie, myself and the whole of the Gumball team hope you can join us next year for Gumball 2007!!!
Thanks to Gumball Live