What better way, I thought, to take in some rally-atmosphere and excitement than to ‘pop along’ and take a peek at the Gumball 3000 A’s it celebrates its 20th anniversary this weekend in London.
I had a few issues with this, one being that I hate using public transport, usually because I get lost particularly easy, but that’s negligible and workable. A second being that, in previous years’ visits to the G3K, things get a little busy. By a ‘little’ I mean that lampposts have a hard time fitting between fans. This simply would not do.
So, I decided that, being the driving force behind the 4BallR, I deserved special privileges. Surprisingly however, no helicopter was chartered for me and no, I couldn’t ‘hang’ with Maximillion and the rest of the rich-kids. The 4BallR, it seemed, was not my ticket to getting behind the scenes at such a large event.
Or was it? Being a real believer in, but not always the reality of, ‘you don’t ask, you don’t get’, I asked. I informed the guys behind the rally that I was behind a rally, and it was decided that I should be granted some privileges. No helicopter sadly, just a press pass.
Still, it meant that for the Sunday at least, I would be getting squashed by hungry-photographers, rather than over-eager teenagers as the rally commenced. It would have to do. But would I be able to don the full 4BallR get-up, and walk harmlessly amongst the Gumball fraternity without being booted out for advertising?
Well yes. Turns out a press-pass simply admits you to a crowded area full of over perspiring-men who like to fight for space along the barrier in the hope of getting a good photo. For the record, a rather cheap ‘selfie-stick’ works wonders, towering many feet over the in-fighting and captures everything the bickering misses. I found myself quite happy infact. Quite happy that was, until we hit the hour-mark of cars leaving the grid. Things started to get a bit tiring, Porsche followed by a Lamborghini followed by a Porsche followed by a Lamborghini.. etc. It was dragging on. But this was the Gumball after all, and I had a great view to an event I had treasured since forever. And aside from that, I had thousands of like-minded individuals around me to whom I could mention my event and perhaps slip them a leaflet. And besides, I am the friggin’ organiser of a driving event. I should be at these larger events by default.
By the time the final cars had stuffed the last of their Louis Vutton hand luggage into their minuscule luggage areas, I was heading for the train. I stayed as long as I thought was necessary, got what I had wanted, had promoted both the Gumball 3000 and the 4BallR across social media and felt that watching the final hung-over participants finally starting to move was not really for me. I like punctuality, Mr Cooper.
Heading back and writing this, I felt all had gone well. I had raised brand-awareness amongst a tiny thread of fans and got a close up of an event that I had always wanted to take part in. Would I take part now? Sure, it’s the fucking Gumball 3000. It’s like Ibiza - the best days have past but the name still allures. I think it needs a bit of a shake up in years to come if it is to stay ‘cool’ and relevant, but that probably starts with a shake-up at the top: new minds, new ideas, new beginnings.
The Gumball 3000 has grown beyond all expectation but there is a distinct whiff of staleness emanating from the event. Let’s hope they can introduce some freshness in years to come.