In August 2018 I was in Mykonos with my friend Kareem. We had a stunning villa, high up in the hills accessible only via a typically Mykonian tight, winding road, providing the perfect vantage point for overlooking the turquoise blue Aegean sea. We were having a few drinks (Casamigos Blanco on the rocks) by the pool waiting for the girls to get ready, bathed in glorious sunshine, when we started talking about what cars were on our ‘list’. Then he mentioned for the third or fourth time since I’ve known him that he would love to do the Gumball 3000. Having had the dream of entering the rally since I was in my early 20’s, over the years I had invariably thought about whether it was the right time to apply but, to be honest, had never really taken it seriously. Firstly, it is a considerable financial commitment; and a five-figure commitment at that. Secondly, given the rally’s reputation for high flying competitors, I had always doubted whether, even in the event I had the money that I would actually ‘qualify’.
I explained, as I had previously, that I had wanted to do the rally for years. What I told him on that occasion for the first time though was that I knew someone who worked at Gumball 3000 and, perhaps, they might have some guidance as to how we might apply. He asked me whether I would get in touch with my contact and I agreed.
So what do I mean by apply? Well, each year the rally has a certain number of places that are by invitation only; for those asked to join the event, whether they are celebrities doing it for the first time or alumni being invited back for more. The remaining places are by application. With 100 cars competing each year and the chances of me being invited less than zero (!) and those following application being extremely slim, I said I would email my contact there and see if they had any advice.
I must confess, I hate contacting people out of the blue and asking for help, so it took me a little time and a few more prompts from my friend to finally put an email together. I began my email apologetically, gently reminding them how we had met and that I hoped they were doing well – it certainly seemed as though the brand had gone from strength to strength since we had last spoken in 2012. I then asked if there was any advice they could give as to the application process and waited for a response.
As I wrote the email I realised there was a distinct possibility I would be rebuffed, so I looked at it as a shot to nothing, pressed send and waited . . .