Cannonball Gum

Organizers of the Gumball 3000 are careful to point out that the international event is a rally, not a car race. Drivers will not be timed. They have no reason to get out of fourth gear (second gear for some of the Ferraris), collecting speeding tickets across the globe. It’s a rally. Rallies bring to mind chaps in white scarves and muddy goggles motoring through Scotland. Nevermind that someone drove a $1 million Bugatti Veyron last year, or the frequent appearances by cast members of Jackass. If the S.F.P.D. and the Highway Patrol get as twitchy as ferrets when the flag drops today, it’s on them.

Maximillion Cooper, a rich guy with a smashing name, started the Gumball 3000 in 1999, which promptly drew A-list drivers and their hangers-on. Notable entrants include skateboarders Tony Hawk and Rob Dyrdek (Dyrdek drove a rental car in 2004), stars like Matthew McConaughey (“Beau-tay manifold,” he said to his car in 2002), along with million- and billionaires the world over (the entry fee is something like $100,000). Today’s opening ceremony begins with a spread of 120 cars with man-of-mystery names (Caterham Sevens, Ferrari Enzos, Toyota Turdcels) displayed for public ogling. Then the drivers saddle up, “rally” to San Diego and Las Vegas, hop a plane to North Korea and China, and then “rally” to Beijing, just in time for the Olympics. This year’s noted celebs include Travis Barker, almost everybody from Jackass, and David Hasselhoff riding in K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider. It’s gonna be that kind of day.
Sat., Aug. 9, 10 a.m., 2008

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