THE real-life equivalent of the Wacky Races, the Gumball 3000 Rally, will be whizzing through Scotland for the first time in its 15-year history this summer, bringing Edinburgh to a standstill.
It’s little wonder that the playboy founder of the event, British designer Maximillion Cooper, wanted to add a Scottish leg to the world’s most extravagant rally this year – the entrepreneur proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Grammy award-winning hip-hop star and actress Eve in Edinburgh on Christmas Day.
Cooper, who is also a former Armani model, said the infamous rally, which takes place on public roads with a different route around the world each year, will double up as his stag week.
The rally features cars that cost more than the average family home, superstar racers and a jet-setting itinerary. This year it goes from Miami via Atlanta to New York, crosses the Atlantic and then sets off again from Edinburgh, down to London, and then on to Paris and Barcelona before finishing in the Mediterranean party capital of Ibiza.
The seven-day adventure is for super-rich adrenaline junkies who have to pay £40,000 to enter.
Gumball, which has been described by Vanity Fair magazine as "the most rock n roll rally every staged" was inspired by the 1976 movie The Gumball Rally starring Michael Sarrazin.
The film, about a coast-to-coast road race, was itself inspired by the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, an unofficial, unsanctioned race run five times in the 1970s. The Gumball Rally movie in turn inspired other films, including Cannonball Run, starring Burt Reynolds.
Three days after this year’s race finishes in Ibiza, Cooper and Eve will get married. It is understood the lavish wedding will be held at the Blue Marlin megaclub in Ibiza, which is frequented by celebrities including Kate Moss, Sly Stallone and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Gumball Rally’s 15th year will feature 120 exotic cars and drivers roaring across 3000 miles, two continents and five countries in seven days, via motor racing circuits, football stadiums and castles.
After the sunshine and parties of Miami, Florida, on June 5, the sports cars – including Ferraris and Lamborghinis – will cruise towards explosive parties in Atlanta and New York, before the Gumballers and their cars (in private jets and cargo planes respectively) are propelled across the Atlantic to Scotland two days later.
They are expected to arrive into Prestwick Airport on the morning of June 8 before roaring east to Edinburgh and parking up in the city centre on The Mound, which will be closed for the day. Then they head south to London.
Cooper and Eve – whose full name is Eve Jihan Jeffers – will be competing against each other in the rally, driving separate cars for their unique hen and stag celebrations.
Cooper said: "The idea of driving 3000 miles all the way from Miami to get to our wedding in Ibiza sounds pretty crazy, but we met on the Gumball back in 2010 when Eve participated as a celebrity guest of Puma, so incorporating the rally into our wedding plans seemed to be appropriate.
"I think the drama of this adventure suits our lives, and driving together with 100 other supercars will undoubtedly be a lot of fun, especially as these six days will double up as my bachelor [stag] week."
Since Eve’s first participation in the event four years ago, she has been back every year since and has been officially dubbed the First Lady of Gumball.
It will be the first marriage for Eve, 35, who as an actress is probably best known for her roles as Terri Jones in the films Barbershop and Barbershop 2: Back In Business.
Cooper, 41, was previously married to ex-business partner Julie Brangstrup and has four children.
He said: "Incorporating Edinburgh into the route and stopping off in London just adds to the romanticism, having met in London and proposed on Christmas Day in Edinburgh … I can’t wait."
This year’s Gumball will feature big names including actor David Hasselhoff and rappers Tinie Tempah, Dizzee Rascall and Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs.
The Jackass team, including stars Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O famously took part in 2005 and filmed their adventures for their TV show. Previous celebrity Gumballers include Kate Moss, Kylie Minogue, Guy Ritchie and actors Billy Zane and Adrian Brody.
Cooper said: "With parties, music concerts, car displays and action sports demos throughout, the Gumball rally is my way of playing with pop culture, combining my passion and influences of cars, art, music and street culture to create a really unique form of entertainment.
"It’s great to see sheikhs, oligarchs and royalty hanging out with artists, musicians, sports and film stars, skaters, fashion designers, heads of industry, and taste makers. It’s just about the most eccentric mix of people you could imagine, all driving everything from Bugattis to Rolls-Royces and vintage cars."
The final stretch of the race will be just a short drive and ferry ride to the finish line in Ibiza, ready for a riotous celebration weekend.
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