Gumball 3000: The world’s most extravagant car rally heads to the desert

Dubai (CNN) — The Gumball 3000 is one of the most exclusive, ostentatious and extravagant car rallies in the world – a road trip for celebrities and the rich that also raises money for youth charities.

Founded by British businessman and former motor racing driver Maximillion Cooper, the event shares its name with “The Gumball Rally,” a 1976 comedy about an illicit coast-to-coast American race. It was organized in more than 50 countries, reaching places as varied as New York, Ibiza, Bucharest, Mykonos, Istanbul, Shanghai and Osaka.

The inaugural race took place in 1999, starting in London, and featured celebrities including model Kate Moss and singer Kylie Minogue. “It was a vision at the time,” says Cooper, who was able to draw on his high-level contacts in the worlds of fashion and racing, and who in later years attracted F1 driver Lewis Hamilton. , actors David Hasselhoff and Matthew McConaughey, musicians Xzibit and Usher and skateboarding legend Tony Hawk.

For its 23rd edition, the event landed in Dubai – its first time in the Middle East. “We’ve been talking about it for probably the last decade,” Cooper says. “The region is opening up, hosting many different sporting, musical and cultural events and it’s nice to be a part of it.”

Maximillion Cooper (right) and his wife, Grammy-winning rapper Eve, who waved the start flag in Dubai.

Maximillion Cooper (right) and his wife, Grammy-winning rapper Eve, who waved the start flag in Dubai.

Gumball 3000 Media Department

A new course

The cars, including Lamborghinis, Ferraris and a Bugatti Divo, set off from Burj Park, with the starting flag waved by Cooper’s wife, Grammy-winning rapper Eve. The route will take drivers through Oman, before returning to the United Arab Emirates, finishing on November 18 in time for the Formula 1 race weekend in Abu Dhabi.

The drivers raise funds for the Gumball 3000 Foundation, which distributes them to projects that provide disadvantaged youth with greater educational and recreational opportunities. Having driven this route many times himself, Cooper believes it introduces many Gumball riders to the wider area.

“Taking wealthy, influential, well-traveled people to new places is great,” he says. Among the drivers are British YouTuber Yung Filly and Moroccan-American rapper French Montana, who performed at the launch party on November 12 and is due to perform again on November 19 once the rally is over.

Gumballer Yung Filly's first time driving this Lamborghini Urus.

Gumballer Yung Filly’s first time driving this Lamborghini Urus.

Gumball 3000 Media Department

women driving

Hanan Mazouzi Sobati is one of the few women behind the wheel of the event. As the founder of the Arabian Gazelles, Dubai’s first women’s supercar ownership club, Sobati will drive an Alfa Romeo Stelvio for The Purple Team, which includes nine drivers from the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

A seasoned rally driver, she is used to events that measure driver times at specified checkpoints. Gumball 3000, however, is completely different. “It’s more of a fun tour of really meeting and bonding over six days of riding with enthusiasts from all over the world,” she says.

For Cooper, that’s exactly what it’s all about. “Every year brings together an incredible group of people,” he says. “This network continues to grow.”

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