January 10th, 2002:
The Great BlackBall Conspiracy

Steve-O from MTVs Jackass

Jackass. It’s a great show. Usually a group of twenty-somethings run around hitting their heads and getting smacked in the genitals. Brilliant. Every straight male on the planet worshiped that crap. Including me. It was fun to watch, but I’d never try anything they did on that show, except one thing…

The Gumball 3000 is a 3000 mile road rally across Europe (traditionally). In 2001, the participants traveled from Great Britain to Russia and back in 5 days. It’s a giant party with no sleep, little food, a lot of caffeine, and a shitload of adrenaline. Immediately I wanted to participate.

I knew immediately that most of those people lived lives far different than mine. They were playboys, entrepreneurs, movie stars, and rich daddy’s boys with six-digit weekly allowances. It had to be expensive. As soon as the hour-long special ended I began my research. In a few days I had created a promotional website, composed an introduction letter/request to participate, and began looking for funding.

We initially anticipated the cost to be around $7,000 USD. After a little more digging and research we adjusted that to $10,000 USD. Pricey, but still possible with a little financial help. Why the cost increase? We initially discovered the Gumball 3000 through MTV’s Jackass series. So did 30,000 other people. Part of the cost increase may have been designed to thin out the initial flood of entries. (There are only 100 grid spots.)

We did a little prep on the car and some additional sponsorship research, but heard nothing from the Gumball committee. Several months after our initial and follow-up e-mails to the committee we were contacted by some of the Gumball message board members. Somebody had stumbled onto our site and filled out a contact form. The initial response was VERY positive. A few more e-mails from confirmed participants trickled in, but we had no official word yet.

Bad in Black

A couple of months later we received another contact e-mail from a message board member that was, at best, depressing. He stated that he thought we were trying to get money from outside sources too vigorously, that it was very expensive (hint: we couldn’t afford it), and that if we didn’t have an entry form yet we wouldn’t be getting one (i.e. GIVE UP). That was a lot to stomach at once. I figured that he was probably right on at least the last point. So, I posted a simple update on the site:

"We never got an entry form. We were never contacted to participate. Thanks for your support and interest. Maybe we’ll see you next year."

About a week later (Christmas Eve, actually…), a shiny, over-sized, silver envelope arrived in my mail. I set it aside as I rushed to get ready for the holidays at my parent’s house. When we returned that evening, I went though my mail. Normally I would have just tossed such an obvious piece of junkmail, but I opened it anyway. To my shock, a brightly colored entry form and sticker fell to the floor. I turned over the small circular sticker to see the Gumball 3000 logo stare back at me. A cold sweat instantly covered my body. Could it be?

Detroit's Rennaisance Center

I read the brochure/entry form several times in disbelief. We made the final round of selection. The first 100 entry forms back to the committee were in! (I knew that over 70 grid spots had already been claimed.) A million thoughts ran through my head at once. Where would we find the cash? Would we get the form back in time? Could the car withstand seven-thousand miles in 2 weeks (we would have to drive to New York to begin the rally and back from L.A. after the close of the event)? I also noticed that the final entry fee had increased to 7,050 Pounds Sterling (~$15,000)… ouch. It was possible that we would could afford this if we had a large sponsor (that would have to be approved by the Gumball committee before the event).

Obstacles steadily began to pile into the path of our participation. The cost was greater than we anticipated, our work schedules began to threaten our timeline, and we were given the run around by the few large companies that might have an interest in our participation in such an event.

Chicago's Hancock Building

There is still a small chance that we will still be able to take part in the Gumball 3000. The greatest issue is the cost. For that fact alone, the increased cost has proven effective… consider us filtered out. (The buzz hints that the inflated entry fee is to skim the best of the best from the possible entrants. A movie is being planned based on the Gumball rally, and they want to ensure the most interesting people possible take part. Apparently, we couldn’t afford to be interesting enough.

However, we propose an alternative to this rich man’s race. It is not our intention to compete with the Gumball. There’s no way we could possibly hope to do that. We just want to have fun without blowing $15k. Contemplate this:

  • < $100 entry fee
  • 500 mile route
  • 2 stops along the way to make asses of ourselves
  • Anything that’s highway legal is allowed
  • No pretentious aspirations
  • Fun for fun’s sake

I’m working on this possibility now. Many details need to be worked out. The event would most likely happen at the end of the summer (late August?). Expect more updates soon.

Further information and related links:

Gumball 3000 Homepage
Our promotional site
Sports Car Club of America
MTV’s Jackass

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