Chasing Gumball 3000 in Japan

Impossible is nothing; and there can be nothing less -- this is the kind of mindset that is needed if you dedicate your work to making wildest ideas a reality.

One such idea is hosting a Gumball 3000 rally in Japan.  I mean, who would have thought? Who would have agreed? Who would have approved?  

Just a thought of all the legal and cultural obstacles can put even the most genius master mind off.

But not "Mr. Gumball" Maximilian Cooper.  After successfully hosting 19 rallies all across the world, Mr. Cooper said: "Challenged Accepted"  and the rest was history: bunch of ridiculously wrapped cars with foreign license plates, and overwhelmingly wealthy and overzealous drivers with zero experience driving in Japan were stuck on the plane and headed towards Osaka.... What could go wrong?

With that, Japan welcomed the first ever Gumbal 3000 rally.

Here we will look at some of the crazy cars that took part as I followed them for last 100 kilometers of the final leg.

After getting a useful tip about the route plan, I patiently waited at what can be described as Japan's most boring service station.  The world has heard about the abundance of shops and options at places like Ebina or Ashigara, but this... let's just say they didn't even have the most needed item for the scorching heat: ice cream....

It all went from bad to worse, as it started to rain, on top of that I got a tip that there were already cars at Daikoku!  Was all my driving and waiting for nothing?  My luck has instantly changed as I set off and  timed my exit perfectly as I was overtaken by Audi RS6, Porsche 911 Turbo, and AMG GT, all with European license plates.

Finally, after spending half a day figuring where the Gumball rally was, I was right in the middle of it! Unfortunately keeping up was simply not an option, they were literally creating their own lanes by using both shoulders, weaving between cars, as if it was a video game.  Besides, after all that shenanigans, they took the wrong turn, and exited the highway in the middle of nowhere.  So when it comes to race to daikoku... I won!

But then again, I was late, as the massive crowd has gathered to look at the cars, and local police were already losing their minds.

As it was getting dark, and police finally started kicking everybody out, I went towards Gumball's official finish line, a seaport right off Odaiba area.  Photography was nearly impossible as it was already dark, so I went further: to Conrad Tokyo where Gumballers were staying and were scheduled to have the reception,

And boy, did I ever hit the jackpot?

Conrad Tokyo was officially invaded

If you were a VIP guest and didn't like cars, we look forward to reading your negative review on Trip Advisor.  However if you are a car nut just like me, this pretty much sums up what heaven looks like.

Cars kept coming in, trying to find parking, while I was trying to get a shot away without getting ran over by a hypercar with foreign plates.

It was "a scramble baby!" and it was absolutely insane!

Bryan Salamone made famous by Netflix Show 'Faster Car" was here in person and he brought some friends!

Entire Morohoshi crew nonchalantly marched in and declared that if you were not a car guy you didn't belong here

Needless to say Contrad staff were confused as any attempt to manage this was greeted by arrival of another high-revving gumballer ruining a good night sleep for another VIP guest.

And then this happened: Team 57 Bugatti Chiron has finally showed up and stole the show

Soon after the most iconic and charismatic car vlogger showed up: Tim Burton, known to us all as Shmee150.

The festivities went all through the night, and even the following day where gumballers went off to explore Tokyo car life, visiting famous car shops, and driving real life Mario Cart.  For me personal life took over, but I managed to catch up with one of the most recognizable character and frequent participant of he gumball rally: Mr. POG himself.

He wasted no time cruising all around Tokyo making friends with fellow car owners and local police.

I caught up with him here at Tatsumi and proceeded with a little photoshoot, and the way other cars played in was absolutely epic.  Please don't forget to scroll down for all the pictures.

So there we have it, it's been over  two months since the event, yet it's still sinking in.  My Instagram is still full of content from all the Gumballers who took their cars back to their original locations, yet still many wearing the livery.  Each time I see one it brings back memories, but also raises the question: what's next?

What's next for rally events across Japan? Can it be coordinated and carried up with such degree of finesse and fun like they do Gumball or Goldrush in America?   Japan is a conformist country, where rules are more important than fun and concept of adventure.  How can the rallies fit into this in the future, we'll have to wait and see.

What's next for automotive tourism? Gumball has proven that cars can be brought in form overseas for a weekend drive, and there are no shortage of driving roads in Japan.  Will this pick up? Will Japan accommodate? Will the car owners be willing to bear all the costs?

All of this puts and extra spin on Japanese car life as it is becoming to be a part of global phenomenon, where people unite and share their passion for everything on wheels.




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