I’m in possession of a secret document. A document from the German government. Yes. the real Polizei. A document so hilarious that I thought it came from DerZwiebel.com. That’s The Onion in Germany. But it didn’t. It’s a list of instructions for all Gumball 3000 participants. If you’re a fan of such events, and especially if you’re not, I promise you’ve never seen automotive Schadenfreude like this.
(This story originally ran on May 28, 2015 and is being reposted for the 2016 Gumball 3000.)
Imagine you’re a car guy with money to burn. The Gumball 3000 is approaching. The entry fee is the better part of $100,000. You’re gripped by the mythos of the 1976’s Gumball Rally.
Alas, you’ve unwittingly conflated a movie about an illegal race that never happened with a modern event with a similar name.
The Gumball 3000 sounds amazing. Parties! Girls! Sports Cars! So what if, according to the organizers, “it’s not a race, it’s a rally.” Everyone just knows you can drive as fast as you want. The organizers have taken care of everything. You can afford the speeding tickets. The 2015 route crosses Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Holland and the United States. As long as you hold a drivers license from a country far from a traffic infraction, there is literally nothing other than a major accident to inconvenience you on the way to the next party.
You’ve bought, leased, rented, or borrowed a (fill in the blank with one of the following):
(a) Porsche 997 Turbo S
(b) Ferrari 458 or F12
(c) Mercedes SLS AMG
(d) Rolls Royce Phantom
(e) Porsche 918
(f) Bugatti Veyron
Now that you have the keys to a car worth between $300,000 and $1M, you’re ready to live the dream. Your dream is to run your car on the open roads of Germany. The land of no speed limits. Road surfaces like glass. Perfect camber. The unicorn of road infrastructure.
Alas, Germany is but one of the countries the Gumball 3000 will pass through. Speeding in Sweden? Norway? Holland? Denmark? Not so easy. Traffic cameras. Laser guns. Tispol - the traffic division of Interpol - has a long memory. They haven’t forgotten the fatalities on the 2007 Gumball. Even if, depending whom one asks, it wasn’t the Gumballers’ fault.
But thank God for the autobahn. Germany. The one European country where culture and engineering have converged to provide the ideal environment for approximately 100 people like yourself. One hundred well-intentioned souls on the “automotive trip of a lifetime.”
Whatever happens in Scandinavia, at least you’ll be able to cut your Zonda loose in Germany.
Pause for a moment to consider a heartbreaking scene with James Earl Jones in 1994’s Clear and Present Danger. His character, the patriotic CIA Director of Operations with a heart of gold, lies in a hospital bed suffering from cancer. He keeps his spirits up continuing to work. Harrison Ford enters and hands him a sheaf of pictures showing the U.S. President cutting a deal with Columbian drug lords. Jones pontificates on the meaning of hard work, trust, the U.S. constitution and faith, ending with:
“And then you see THIS.”
What those pictures were to him, the attached document is to the Gumball 3000, which is going on right now throughout Europe.
And now, here’s a line-by-line-analysis of the document handed to every Gumballer before entering Germany yesterday:
- “As we are leaving Copenhagen, we are soon about to enter the land poets and thinkers - Germany.”
Germany. Also the land of Porsche. BMW. Mercedes. AMG. M. Alpina. And law. And order. And law enforcement officials who have watched Gumball videos on Youtube for almost ten years. Officials smarter than anyone who paid to enter the 2015 Gumball. Officials who’ve done a lot of thinking, with a wonderful sense of poetic justice. For, instead of banning the Gumball from German roads, they’ve done something much, much more punitive...
- “As you may all be aware of, Germany has strict traffic rules.”
Sure, sure. Everyone has rules. Don’t run red lights. Stop at stop signs. All you care about is that there’s no speed limit.
- “The approval by the German authorities to conduct Gumball 3000 is furthermore linked to official requirements and we are committed to cooperating with the police authorities to the fullest.”
Blah. Blah. As long as you can hit the autobahn.
- “It is crucial that we all abide by these rules after a couple of negative incidents years ago in Germany that the police still recalls.”
This is the 17th Gumball 3000. The 8th since the fatalities. They recall it, alright. In a database. You don’t want to be in that database. It’s shared across the European Union. Trust me. I know.
- “Your route must be as follows: Puttgarden in Fehmarn - B207 - A1 - A43 - A2 - Exit 3 Bottrop - L 631 (pit stop at BRABUS premesis) - L631 - A2 - A3 - (E35) - to the border crossing Elten, Netherlands.”
How nice of them to share the shortest route. Except the shortest route isn’t the ideal route, not when it’s the route everyone must take, and the police are forcing you to take it, and will be monitoring you the whole way. This doesn’t sound like fun. To quote Admiral Ackar, “it’s a trap!”
- “Please note that the exit from “A2 to the pit stop in Bottrop has a distance of 800 meters (!) only. This leg is NOT a motorway despite being three-lane.Maximum speed is 60 km/h (37 mph.)“
Wait a second. This heretofore secret pitstop is at Brabus! How awesome is that? Doesn’t sound like it was a secret for the Polizei! Errr, this suddenly got a lot less fun. 37 mph? That’s barely first gear! Isn’t the whole point of visiting Brabus to drag race up and down the half-mile long access road? It’s right off the autobahn. It would be so easy to block off both ends. Who would care? You paid <$100,000 to come all this way, and you can’t do donuts in front of Germany’s biggest donut factory?
- “The drive will take place in small groups of eight vehicles (+ one escort vehicle accompanying each group) in one-minute intervals between each car. There will be a five-minute interval separating each group. You are not permitted to drive in close formation! please note: Close formation is defined as a group of 10 cars and more (we are driving 8+1).”
Hmmmm. A one-minute interval. That’s no fun. At 150+ mph the cars won’t be able to see each other. That sucks. An escort? Will the escorts be Gumball staff or Polizei? This doesn’t sound good. At least there’s no speed limit!
- “Any form of timekeeping and/or racing is prohibited at all times!”
That’s what they say, but they can’t stop you from broadcasting your location and speed in real-time through your cellphone! Even if you can’t see other cars...wait...hang on. This next line could be a prob-
- “Speed limits must always be complied with and may not exceed 130 km/h (80mph) during the whole journey through Germany, even on legs with no speed restrictions.”
What the frack is this? 80mph???? Even on legs with no speed restrictions? Departing at one minute intervals means a 1.3 mile gap in between cars! What the f**king gumballing frack f**k c**ksmoking is THIS? I paid <$100,000 for THIS? This is why you came to Germany! Does anyone have any idea how long it will take to cover hundreds of miles at 80mph? The speed limits in France are higher!
- “As a reminder, speed limits in Germany are displayed in km/h and not mph.”
So it appears, after 17 Gumballs through Europe, the Polizei won’t let you use the “foreign speedo defense.”
- “All forms of stickers or logos have to be covered whilst driving through Germany.”
Multiplying insult by injury, someone will have to remove your fancy wrap for part of the drive. Or wrap it with another wrap. Or cover your car in duct tape. Paganis look great with duct tape. And two wraps. But especially duct tape.
- “You are not permitted to mark parking spaces or road surfaces with tape, color or the like.”
Not sure what they have in mind here. Maybe they mean burnt rubber.
- “Police instructions must be followed at all times.”
That little bird that was about to tell you something? He just met up with about two hundred other birds.
- “All vehicles including escort vehicles are not permitted to intervene in the public traffic or conduct traffic control measures.”
THIS IS NUCLEAR. If Gumballers must drive 80mph even in derestricted zones, and if Gumballers “are not permitted to intervene in the public traffic,” then Gumballers will be forced into the right lane, TO BE PASSED ON THE LEFT BY COMMUTERS.
THIS IS GUMBALL?
- “All spaces that are used for breaks or stops must be left in clean condition.”
At this point, do you care?
- “Special caution is required when driving through road works. Please abide by the reduced speed limits!”
Road works aren’t chicanes? Multiply insult by injury, then add back-handed slap!
- “If you require assistance from the police prior or during the event, please call +49 1520 7172xxx. The emergency-dial in Germany is 110.”
Good thing someone at Gumball has provided their cell phone number. You certainly won’t need to dial 110 to reach the Polizei. They’ll literally be an arms length away. Or a car length!
Happy Emasculated Gumballing!