2008 Gumball 3000 Rally goes to Hollywood


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The Gumball 3000 Rally, in its 10th year, is the creation of Maximillion Cooper, an ex-Armani model (he is now 36, so that may have been awhile back). Cooper would prefer that you refer to the 3,000-mile race on public streets as a ‘rally,’ just as the name says. The past ‘bad behavior’ of its drivers has given the event a bad rap after last year’s fatal crash in Macedonia canceled the remainder of the rally.

The entry fee is $120,000, and you must provide your own wheels. The cars this year run the gamut: hot new models like the Bugatti Veyron, vintage Jaguars, a wacky camper version of a VW Microbus. For some Hollywood flair, David Hasselhoff plans to drive the KITT car from the newer version of ‘Knight Rider.’


The U.S. leg of the rally route starts in San Francisco on Saturday at 10 a.m. and will stop that evening in Hollywood for a VIP party at the Roosevelt Hotel. The cars will pull up for a photo op at 9 p.m., and the invitation-only party starts at 11.

Then it’s off to San Diego and Las Vegas. Sounds like a typical West Coast family vacation, right? Not so much. Each of the cars is then loaded onto three huge Antonov cargo planes and flown to Nanjing, China — ultimately ending up in Beijing for the Olympics via a one-nighter in North Korea. The detour to NorKor includes seats at the Mass Games, ‘a display of arts and sports’ that supports the country’s ‘friendship initiative.’

Beyond ‘the Hoff,’ the merry band of 120 celebrities, media darlings and wealthy car enthusiasts includes the MTV ‘Jackass’ cast, who will document the trip on the show, Orlando Bloom, Tara Reid, Travis Barker and Jodie Kidd — but others will show at the red carpet party at the Roosevelt on Saturday night.

Will this year’s drivers fare better than last year’s? Stay tuned. I’d like to be there for the ‘pre-rally instructions.’ I’m sure they include the disclaimer ‘Please drive safely.’

— Joni Gray

Related L.A. Times story: Gumball 3000 Rally Update: No flying under the radar this year

John Griffiths via Flickr


FOR THE RECORD: David Hasselhof will be driving the KITT car from the original TV Series (not the movie version), a Pontiac Trans Am Firebird.