Gumball 3000 2015: Day 1
The party last night was brutal. Some of my colleagues didn’t get back into their rooms until 5 a.m., and while sitting at breakfast, more than one of them complained of being still drunk from the previous night’s debauchery. We would load up the cars and start our journey in just a few hours. They had better sober up quickly, because Gumball waits for no one. Oslo awaited the arrival of Team AnastasiaDate and Team AsianDate, and I certainly didn’t want to keep the beautiful city waiting.
Continue reading to learn more about Gumball 3000 Day 1
First stop of the day is the driver’s briefing. Max, Mr. Gumball himself, takes the first part of the day to address the drivers, give them a rundown of the route and what is expected of them, and he also details the various evening events along our route. Once the meeting is over it is time to file out, grab our luggage from the hotel and head to the starting grid. It’s time to Gumball.
As we slowly stream from the hotel towards our fleet of awaiting chase vehicles, the sun heats up the pavement and you can begin to smell the previous night’s poor decisions being sweated out by various members of our party. We load up all the cars, and head over to the grid to see the massive party and the drop of the start flag.
With an operation of this size, there are lots of scheduling and timing issues and more to be concerned with, so part of our team decides that to get to the halfway stop for the day, we should leave a few minutes before the flag drops so we can be ahead of the pack.
I am one of the forward teams, so I missed the start of the rally.
We pound out of the city in the direction of our first stopover at Örebro Castle. The drive is fairly short and uneventful, but it gives me my first real impressions about just how much Europe loves and adores the spectacle of Gumball. As we headed out of town there were dozens of cars parked in the ditches on the side of the highways, their passengers standing on the hillside, cameras in hand..
The entire trip we saw people at gas stations, on overpasses and just sitting on the hard shoulder with their camera phones at the ready, big smiles on their faces.
Every overpass was covered with people hoping to catch a glimpse of the convoy of supercars. And it didn’t stop after we were farther away from Stockholm. The entire trip we saw people at gas stations, on overpasses and just sitting on the hard shoulder with their camera phones at the ready, big smiles on their faces.
As we left the city of Stockholm, our caravan split up, with the Anastasia Date Camaro going north around the lake, and the Asian Date Camaro taking the southern route. It would be a fun experiment to see who would arrive in Örebro first. As we rolled into the city, the Gumball event team had to split the crowd like it was the Red Sea just to get our cars to the parking place.
There were hundreds of people gathered. It was my group with the AnastasiaDate Camaro that arrived first, with our bright yellow muscle car actually being the second car to arrive for the day.
Lunch consisted of a wonderful fresh salad with several greens, lots of tasty soft cheese and fresh baked bread. But I couldn’t really focus on the food that much, as I was too deep in thought and anticipation. As we left Örebro I would be behind the wheel of the yellow car, nearly 550 horsepower at the beck and call of my right foot.
As we left lunch and I walked up to the Camaro holding the keys, I immediately became the biggest rock star of the road in Europe. When you are at Gumball, and you are wearing all the Gumball gear, everyone sort of stares at you with intrigue and interest, but they understand that not everyone is a driver. The moment you walk up to a car though, they swarm you. They want to know how the trip has been, what it’s like to drive in Gumball, how fast did we go, did we run into police and more. They all want to be part of this world, and they do that through learning about our experiences. I had one guy ask me to sign a poster, dozens of requests for photos and more handshakes than I can mention. And that was just in a 15 minute period. Gumball drivers are just draped in fame.
The car erupted into a cacophony of noise as the big 6.2-liter V8 settles into a low thumpy idle around 800 rpm.
I said my goodbyes to my new “fans” and climbed into the Camaro so we could get on our way to Oslo. It has been several months since I have been in a car this old, and I forgot how much I love it. The smell of the interior is a mix of dust, vinyl and old gasoline, with just the slightest hint of oil. It brings back memories of old garages, working on my first truck, and road trips from earlier decades. As I am sitting there, my co-driver Anthony hands me a large headset with a microphone, and I give him a quizzical look. He tells me it’s so we can talk to each other while we are driving. I didn’t understand why until I turned the key. The car erupted into a cacophony of noise as the big 6.2-liter V8 settles into a low thumpy idle around 800 rpm. It has that classic off-beat sound of a heavily cammed motor.
I spend just a few seconds getting used to the overly long clutch travel, but soon we are on our way. After a short little jaunt around town, I am happy we have the headphones as the drone would be too much to bear for more than a few minutes at a time. Finally we hit the highway and take my first chance to really open up the car. As I bury the throttle, I am thumped in the ass by a hefty wave of torque and you can feel the nose lift as the steering goes light. As the revs climb closer to our suggested soft rpm limit of eight grand, the noise is otherworldly. I suspect that everyone in a five-mile radius feared the coming of the apocalypse as the sound hellfire and thunder bellowed from the tail of our screaming yellow muscle car.
The ride was fairly uneventful to start with. Just a long drive through beautiful country roads in one of America’s greatest gifts to the automotive world. Then we got a call that AsianDate’s red car was having some issues. They were reporting fuel cutout, and said they may be out of gas. But we had just filled up, and our car was still at a half tank, so we felt that had to be wrong. We pulled over, got the car started again, and then made our way back onto the highway. A few miles later the car cut out again and we made the decision to leave red team behind and let the yellow car get to Oslo at a decent hour. The issue ended up being that the team never filled up the red car, they only put 14 liters into the tank.
With the red team far behind I pushed deeper into the throttle to get us towards Oslo as early as possible. As we kept driving I hit the dark forest on the eastern edge of Sweden and I am lost in wonder. The trees are not overly large, but somehow the forest feels older than it looks. Ancient in a way, like a relic of old history. Even as the long snout of the Camaro pierces through the miles of trees, the forest feels imposing. I roll down the window and let the cool, damp air flood the cabin, and the scent of pine replaces the oil and dust for a moment.
Getting pieces for a 1969 Camaro in Norway is not an easy task.
After we leave the forest we need to stop for gas and I have to return the keys to the Camaro. I must leave the world of the muscle car and I head back to the Volvo chase cars. I spend the rest of the trip to Oslo browsing classic muscle cars on eBay and watching the scenery go by. As we crawled into the city, my Volvo skipped hitting the grid and we headed to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I made an early night and went to bed. I was told the trip to Copenhagen would be a long one, and I wanted my rest.
What I didn’t know was that the red car still hadn’t made it to Stockholm. Rather, a blown distributor cap meant it was now on a flat-bed, and the team was desperately scrambling to find parts. Getting pieces for a 1969 Camaro in Norway is not an easy task.
Stick around for more coverage of the Gumball 3000 Rally on TopSpeed.com later.