Behind the Scenes at the World's Most Decadent Road Rally
Photo by Aaron Nardi

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Behind the Scenes at the World's Most Decadent Road Rally

The Gumball 3000 is a road trip, a party, and a chance for action sports athletes to rub elbows with high society. Aaron Nardi rides along from Reno to Vegas.
June 12, 2015, 2:15pm

In its simplest form, the Gumball Rally 3000 is a beast of a road trip. Not so much for the mileage (a mere 3,000 covered in seven days) but for the cars, which are outrageous; the drivers, including celebrities, DJs, artists, billionaire bankers, action sports athletes, and supermodels; and the parties, which are notorious.

"I've always done this because I had such an eclectic bunch of friends that came from all these different walks of life," Gumball founder Maximillion Cooper says, "and I thought that if I put them in the same room together it would create something interesting. It works."

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Since its inception in 1999, Gumball has followed a different 3,000-mile route each year. This year it began in Stockholm, Sweden and ended in Las Vegas, Nevada. The cars were airlifted from Amsterdam to Reno, Nevada. Drivers traversed the Sierra Nevada Mountains through Lake Tahoe to Los Angeles, drove down the Pacific Coast, and crossed Death Valley to Las Vegas. Cooper says the U.S. section of this year's route was among the most beautiful scenery of any Gumball tour.

Gumball has always included several action sports athletes. Cooper, 43, is a former race car driver, competitive BMX freestyle rider, and sponsored street skater. Tony Hawk, a close friend of Cooper's, has driven in the rally for the past eight years. One of the biggest crowds Hawk has ever skated in front of was in Warsaw during the action sports demo at last year's Gumball. This year's list of athletes included freeskier Jon Olsson, skaters Kevin Staab and Lizzie Armanto, BMX riders Rooftop Escamilla and Coco Zurita, and others.

Photos and captions by Aaron Nardi.

A huge crowd turned out in Reno to see the official start of the U.S. leg of the Gumball. Moments after this image was taken, the crowd swarmed Coco Zurita's car. They were drawn to his bike on the roof of the car, but when they got closer their attention shifted to Setenay Tetik.

The starting grid in every city was the best place to see all the cars. Most of the drivers spent more time checking out the other cars than they did prepping their own. Not the most expensive car in the rally but definitely the flashiest was the all good everything Rolls Royce.

Lewis Hamilton has a huge draw on the Los Angeles grid. The press and fans swarmed him until he drove off in a Koenigsegg Agera S. Starting at $1.5 million, the twin turbo V-8 Agera puts out over 1,000hp. All that power and a huge detour lead to Lewis running out of gas in Death Valley.

Coco Zurita crossing the Bay Bridge. Coco was one of the first drivers to get out of San Francisco, but one of the last to arrive in LA. Luckily no car troubles were involved, Coco actually stopped at Woodward West to get in a training session on vert before he competed in the X-Games just a few days away.

On the Gumball most of your day is spent driving in packs with other Gumballers, which is pretty rad because pretty much every car is amazing. These modded Porsche 911s stuck together from San Fransisco to Los Angeles.

Coco Zurita was stoked to get out of the car and hit the ramp. With massive airs and stylish back to back tricks Coco showed the crowd why he got a silver medal in last years X-Games.

Tommy Lee and Dead Mau5 are hyped with Coco during the vert demo. Moments like this are what Gumball is all about. Max designed Gumball to bring together his passions of cars, music, action sports, fashion, and entertainment and it works out amazingly.

Two generations of skating shred together. Tony Hawk airs above 22-year-old Lizze Armanto.

The crowd loved the vert demo and the musical performances at the Gumball finale party in Vegas. For the actual Gumballers it was much more than just watching a performance -- pretty much everybody partied on stage together. After his set Bun B, king of underground, hung around and even filmed DeadMau5 (sans helmet) as Tommy Lee rocked out just out of frame.