Gumball 3000 - Six Days In May
In May of 2004, I happened
to be in Cannes, France, when the Gumball 3000 came to town.
The city was a circus
already as the Cannes Film Festival was being prepared to start the next
day. Tourists, sunbathers, journalists and movie biz types were
already dodging workers diligently trying to build and wire stages, put up
huge signs and cut off private party rooms on the beach.
Celebs were behind closed
doors (Jen and Brad! Denzel! Tom Hanks! Cameron and
Justin! Orlando! Quentin! Michael Moore!) at the pricier
hotels like the Carlton or encamped in the stately Hotel du Cap in nearby
Cap d'Antibes. It seemed like thousands of people crowded the streets
looking to capture a passing star (or at least the topless sunbathers, who
had mostly moved to the other side of the town to avoid the crowds.)
Then, suddenly, there was a long stream of pumped-up cars -- ranging from
pricy Lamborghinis and Ferraris to juiced-up Citroens -- streaming up the
Boulevard de Croisette.
Welcome to the finish line
of the Gumball 3000.
The Gumball 3000 (formerly
called the Gumball Rally) is an annual 3000 mile long-distance road race
which takes place all over the world. It isn't built for speed --
though many people do go as fast as they can. It isn't built for
glory. The winner is never really announced. It's more an
endurance test. That and a fun six-day road trip.
The rally was made into a
bad Hollywood comedy in the 1976, called simply The Gumball Rally and
starring such Carter-era favorites as Michael Sarrazin, Gary Busey, Nicholas
Pryor and Colleen Camp -- as well as a very young, then unknown Raul Julia.
The race survived that indignity and has continued, with the 2003 race
across the United States turned into a documentary.
Europe (and Northern Africa)
was home for the 2004 race, which has also been filmed for posterity.
Starting in Paris and hitting such cities as Madrid, Barcelona, Casablanca,
Marrakech, Fez and Marabella before finishing up in Cannes. Racers
were a mix of normal car enthusiasts and celebrities, with actor Adrien
Brody, model Jodie Kidd, skating star Tony Hawk and boxer Chris Eubank
joining in the 2004 jaunt across Europe.
Fans of The Amazing Race will undoubtedly go for this breezy,
light-hearted documentary. It is full of cool cars, beautiful sights,
attractive women and a vague sense of competition. However, for a
race, the interviews show the participants to be friendly and fraternal --
the rally appears to be a community occasion rather than a hard-fought
sporting race. Not to say that they didn't have to survive crashes and
outfox the local police, but it was all for fun.
Music video director Ruben
Fleischer has captured some terrific shots and obviously had great
cooperation from the rallyists -- they are often interviewed from the back
or side seat as they are driving across the continent. Gumball 3000
- Six Days in May is a nice reminder in this time of spoiled superstars
and big-mouthed agents that sometimes sporting events are just supposed to
be participated in to have fun.
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Posted: August 18, 2005.