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Fri, July 03

Gumball Rally drivers<br>make stop at the Canyon

GC VILLAGE — Nearly 200 exotic cars made their way across the United States from April 25-30 and early last week, participants in the Gumball Rally 3000 made a stop at Grand Canyon National Park.

There was no welcoming committee at Mather Point, however, and the event needed a permit. South Rim rangers confronted drivers and handed out several citations.

"During the afternoon hours of the (April) 29th, dozens of exotic cars began to enter the park," ranger Mike Gardiner reported. "Many were stopped for unsafe operation, excessive speed, open containers of alcohol and a variety of traffic violations. Several citations and warnings were issues."

An event checkpoint had been established at Mather Point, which rangers said created a traffic and visitor safety hazard. As a result, rangers immediately closed the checkpoint down and continued to monitor event participants’ activities within the park.

Gardiner said Gumball Rally organizers had contacted a park special-uses coordinator on several occasions regarding a special-event permit, but decided their event did not require one.

"They were told several times that a permit was definitely required for the event to occur in the park," Gardiner reported. "The investigation continues; legal action is pending."

The Gumball Rally 3000 was first organized in 1999 for a run across Europe. According to the event’s Web site, European millionaire-playboy Maximillian Cooper got the idea from the classic "Gumball Rally" and "Cannonball Run" movies of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

This year’s event included nearly 200 cars from around the world. It began April 25 in New York and ended April 30 in Los Angeles with a "last hurrah at the Playboy Mansion," as the Web site describes.

"The five-day event will be breaking for stops in nearly every major city in its path, with the daylong driving being capped with some of the most outrageous and glamorous parties this side of the Atlantic," the Gumball Rally 3000 Web site reads.

Washington, D.C., Nashville, Dallas, Santa Fe, N.M., Grand Canyon and Las Vegas were included on the route.

The event includes car enthusiasts along with professional race car drivers, actors, musicians and models.

The event’s Web site reported that Nicholas Cage, Matt Dillon, Fat Boy Slim, the Bikini Bandits and MTV’s Johnny Knoxville were among those expected to participate in the 3,000-mile race.

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