Gumball Rally Racers Flagged Down by German Police | Current Affairs | DW | 01.05.2007
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Current Affairs

Gumball Rally Racers Flagged Down by German Police

In a race stretching across Europe , the Gumball 3000 is not for the faint of heart. But even this race for the rich and famous ran into trouble when it came up against German police, who told them to slow it down.

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Throw your cares to the wind during the Gumball

Are you rich, with lots of time on your hands? If you've got a fat wallet and a jaw-dropping, pedal-to-the-metal kind of car, the Gumball 3000 Rally is the race for you.

This year's Gumball 3000 -- which started on Sunday -- is a race from London to Istanbul and back with drivers maneuvering some of the world's fastest, flashiest cars.

By day, the 240 drivers in 120 cars aim to travel sixteen countries in eight days. By night, they party their speed-demon hearts out. The Gumball is a 3,000 mile, global race for the jet-set crowd: models, celebrities, billionaires, athletes, businessmen, rock stars and a few wanna-bes.

Their "steeds" range from Ferraris to Lamborghinis and Rolls Royces, but also include ice cream trucks, VW campers and even a Turkish taxi.

German police not amused

Illegales Autorennen Gumball 3000

Police officer yells "say cheese" to Gumballers

The Gumballers have stumbled onto a problem in Germany, though.

The country may pride itself in having highways without speed limits -- so much so that tourists from abroad book vacations in the country to drive the autobahns, but there are still limits along certain stretches of highway.

On Monday, German police were more than a little miffed about the Gumball racers.

They handed out hefty "security deposit" tickets of around 420 euros ($574) to nearly 70 speedsters in the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate. (Actual fines will be established later.)

One racer was even caught driving 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour) in an 80-kph zone. Police also forbade the race from continuing through Germany from Belgium.

From London to Istanbul and back

Gumballers were on their way to the Hahn airport near Frankfurt, where two planes were to transport their cars to Istanbul, Turkey, where they would resume their course. From Istanbul, the illegal race is supposed to head back through Southeast Europe to London via Slovakia and Berlin.

In Germany, though, Gumballers had to downshift and allow themselves to be escorted by German police in convoys to the airport.

But the racers weren't irked, and the "security deposits" certainly didn't put a dent in the drivers' wallets. Speedsters consider tickets reaped during the rally to be more like badges or trophies in the pursuit of high speed and Gumball fame.

BdT Schumacher gewinnt in Imola

Will retired Michael Schumacher become a Gumballer?

Besides, having to pay around 41,000 euros to participate in the contest in the first place, and owning the kind of car necessary for such escapades, a few hundred euros mean nothing.

That kind of attitude is probably necessary anyway to be able to whiz down European highways and not flinch during the near-misses as old grannies pull out in front of you in the passing lane, or clunker cars scramble to get out of your way.

After all, the annual "Gumball 3000" -- which kicked off in 1999 -- is not just a race, it's a "lifestyle," the website boasts.

And, if you want to believe founder Maximillion Cooper's portal, it's not surprising that the Gumball 3000 Rally was created by a man who was fathered by a rock 'n' roll drummer, mothered by a model and hobnobs with the likes of North Korea leader Kim Jong Il.

So, for those of you seeking Gumball glory, you can get your first taste of it through Saturday, when the contest ends.

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