First of all, what is a “Gumball Rally?”
American Gumball Rally is a national organization that hosts these Gumball Rally events in numerous states. As a professional Rally America CoDriver, I personally was not quite sure what to expect when I was asked to attend! I hear the word “Rally” and envision and intense, fast pace and chaotic event, that has very little time for socializing; until the afterparty. 😉
But truthfully, this Gumball race event was an absolute breeze in comparison to stage rally. Especially because speeding is NOT ENCOURAGED and will not help your chance of winning! Teams will travel from checkpoint to checkpoint and pick one letter from the word “Gumball” upon check in at each place. After all teams have completed their checkpoint cards, the event staff will draw point values for each letter at random, and repeat this process for each checkpoint. Whoever has the most points wins cash money! The race is not about exact times, it is about your team reaching each checkpoint, and enjoying your vehicle & great friends along the way. In other words, it’s about cruising the open road for an entire weekend, with 100+ other people that are all there for the same reason you are-To have fun!
Here is how it works: You register online in advance to reserve your spot, choosing your car number & allowing some time for your required sticker kit to arrive by mail. In this kit is a handful of decals representing the Gumball race event sponsors, and the official Gumball company logos for identification during the event. You will be required to put all of the stickers from this kit on your race vehicle, to show appreciation (and advertising) for the event sponsors! There are not rules as to what type of vehicle you enter with, as long as it is street legal. Trucks, motorcycles, classic cars, pick your poison. Your entry fee includes your hotel costs for 1 or 2 nights, parking, race track time, photography, entertainment, and entry to any checkpoint that may require a fee. (Note: The entry fee & details of what it will include will vary.)
Competitors of the Ohio Gumball Rally meet in Findlay, Ohio on Friday, September 25th. The Findlay Inn & Convention Center downtown was the perfect place for the Start Line Saturday morning! This was a smaller Gumball Rally, with only a dozen cars registered. Not necessarily a bad thing to have less people, it made the weekend more personable, with teams able to relax a little at check points.
9AM competitors left the Convention Center & drove 60 miles north to the African Safari Wildlife Park, which turned out to be an adventure in itself! They were able to feed these animals from their vehicle, making quite a gross mess inside, but it was well worth it!
From the safari park, competitors drove a couple minutes down the road to Cleats Club Seat Grille, listed as Check Point 3, a spacious restaurant just feet from the water. After a great lunch, the cars lined up and drove 20 minutes to the Miller Boat Line. This is a car ferry, that would take all the competitors and their vehicles to Put-In-Bay, Ohio, a gorgeous island where the rest of the Rally would take place.
The ferry cost was included in the entry fee, so there was no hassle at the gate. The teams loaded onto the boat & experienced a very windy 30 minute ride to the island!
Upon arriving at Put-In-Bay, all the cars were unloaded and went on a cruise together around the island. There is a dead end road on the far side, with a incredible view of the surrounding islands. After parking all the cars at this spot for a break, a celebratory champagne toast was in order!
The sun was starting to set, so the teams made their way to the final stop of the Rally, the Perry’s Victory & International Peace Monument. It must have been good luck, because the National Park was giving free tours that day! All the teams rode in the elevator for free, all 352-feet of the building, for the best view Ohio had to offer.
Sunday morning, the teams all were out of their hotel rooms by 9AM and heading to the local small airport (cruising on golf carts!) for their helicopter ride around the island! Again, this cost was included in the entry fee, so all they had to do was show up.
HOW IS THE WINNER CHOSEN?
TEAMS WILL TRAVEL FROM CHECKPOINT TO CHECKPOINT AND PICK ONE LETTER FROM THE WORD “GUMBALL.” AFTER ALL TEAMS HAVE COMPLETED THEIR CHECKPOINT CARDS THE EVENT STAFF WILL DRAW POINT VALUES FOR EACH LETTER AT RANDOM, AND REPEAT THIS PROCESS FOR EACH CHECKPOINT. WHOEVER HAS THE MOST POINTS WINS A CASH PRIZE AND HAS THEIR TEAM NAME ENGRAVED ON OUR AMERICAN GUMBALL RALLY CUP!
The 1st Annual Ohio Gumball Rally was a 1 day event, put on by a handful of organizers & dedicated automotive enthusiasts. This was my second Gumball event, and it certainly won’t be my last!
After leaving the Perry’s Monument on Saturday night, we all checked into the Put In Bay Resort townhouses. Spending a couple more nights on the island together, enjoying the pool, great weather, good food, and friendships that will last!