As I type, 150 brightly colored, wrapped and logo’ed cars, SUVs and anything in between are arriving in Toronto on the first day of the Gumball 3000 cross-country rally. The festive exotic-heavy field of participants lined up Thursday night in New York City’s Times Square in spite of fog, rain and and huge crowds. Tightly packed, the cars filled up two New York City blocks.
With an initial entry fee almost $40,000 (and more for a passengers and support vehicles), it’s not surprising that the cars entered were mostly high-end. Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches, a Bugatti Veyron, McLaren, Aston Martin, Maserati, and no less than four Rolls Royces (both Phantoms and Ghosts) had the crowds enthralled. There were even a few classics – a ‘57 Chevy Bel Air with a blown motor was front and center at 43rd Street, a be-flagged and red 1969 Hurst/Olds, and a 1967 Shelby. Rounding out the entrants were a couple less familiar, curious vehicles; Local Motors was there with their 2011 Rally Fighter and the 2012 along for the ride. Made in the U.S., the Rally Fighter is immediately recognizable, as it looks like no other vehicle on the road – yet the crowd-sourced, lightweight vehicle is street-legal. The three-wheeled Morgan with a V-twin engine was tiny in comparison to just about every car there, but drew stares with its retro racing good looks.
Light rain fell away by noon on Friday for the midday start. Crowds pressed in around the grid as David Hasselhoff dropped the flag to start the rally, and the Shelby led the pack down Broadway to 41st Street then turned west. It took 45 minutes – speedy by New York traffic standards – for all to drive out, the Morgan bringing up the rear.
After a night in Toronto, the rally heads to Indianapolis via Detroit, then on to Kansas City, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas, the final destination being Los Angeles on May 31.