After a rousing welcome to new and returning participants, the Gumballer-in-Chief confirmed the news of a heavily implied surprise stop— some say it’s the Top Gear test track.
Repeatedly chastised Grand Marshal Xzibit for choosing to fly to Atlanta, accepted congratulations for his impending nuptials to Eve, and delivered a not-so-stern warning about excessive speeds and the kind of crazy driving “people see on YouTube” to an audience of drivers who assented with a near-simultaneous wink.
Cooper was followed by a somewhat sterner Miami Beach Police Captain, who offered a velvet-glove/iron-fist reminder, which touched on the proliferation of school zones along the rally’s Miami exit strategy and the heavy motor patrol presence already deployed to issue “reminders.”
After the “warning” was complete, everyone packed up and boarded buses to sun-baked Ocean Avenue, where the cars were already poised on the starting grid, which was completely surrounded.
Team AnastasiaDate.com started around 30th, and while I was rushing up to the grid, I was stunned when I saw a photo crew taking glamour shots of a Gumball-liveried Ferrari F40. The sight of the über-rare Italian Stallion—just over 1,300 were made—underscored just what a spectacular event the Gumball Rally is. The F40 is the last car built under the direction of company founder Enzo Ferrari, and most examples spend their days busily appreciating in climate-controlled garages.
As a gearhead, I know getting to see this car on the street will be something enthusiasts young and old will remember for the rest of their lives. The idea that this example will spend the next seven days racing across two continents touched me in a way that people who don’t love the smell of gasoline will simply not understand.
Start-wise, while the potential for reckless driving was a—quite understandable—concern for the local police, good old-fashioned gridlock and an unexpected bridge closure made for slow-going out of Miami, but once we got outside of the city, we were able to stretch the Lamborghini’s considerable legs a bit.
Now, as someone who lived in Florida for over a decade, I can tell you the Sunshine State’s countryside is nothing particularly stunning, to put it mildly. Once you get away from the coasts, it is basically all swampland and trailer parks.
If you think a 550-horsepower Italian supercar and a lead-footed lady can make that scenery a little more interesting, you’d be right.
When I picked up a Lamborghini 50th anniversary hat at Miami’s Prestige Imports yesterday, I had no intention of leaving it at the SR 60/ Yeehaw Junction—yup, real place—in the middle of the Florida turnpike. While it’s not ironic to have a Lamborghini ball cap snatched from your skull while riding in a Lamborghini Spyder, it is funny.
Fortunately, none of Team AnastasiaDate.com’s forays into the far-north region of the speedometer resulted in any unwanted attention from the local authorities, but everywhere we stopped for gas drew a crowd. In Miami, Lamborghinis are almost a dime a dozen. Hardware-wise, even the famed streets of Los Angeles pale in comparison to the richness of South Beach, but in the middle of the Georgia sticks? A purple Lamborghini and two drop-dead gorgeous Russian girls draw a crowd like free beer at a frat party. The picture below will give you an idea of the kind of attention we got when we stopped.
Friday morning the team will depart Atlanta and stop in Charlotte before heading to New York, where the cars will be loaded onto cargo planes and shipped across the pond to a tiny private airfield in Scotland.
Until then, check out the gallery below and head over to AnastasiaDate.com’s official Gumball 3000 site for all the info you can handle on this year’s sexiest drivers!