The founder of Gumball 3000 talks dream cars and high-octane adventures ahead of a rally from London to Tokyo to celebrate the brand's 20th anniversary
What is the concept behind Gumball 3000? It was really creating a brand that included all the things that I'm into, which are cars, music, fashion, travel, adventure and sport. So quite broad, but I was trying to create something that could incorporate as much of that as possible, and put it into an event originally for all my interesting friends, and with a longer-term vision to create a brand. The rally that we do is almost what kickstarted everything; it wasn’t even about the cars, it was about getting influential people together and having a road trip knowing that would create something interesting.
What are some of your favourite moments of Gumball 3000? There are so many memories, and I'm condensing a few into a book at the moment. A couple of highlights for me include the 2008 rally, starting in San Francisco and finishing in Beijing at the Olympics. Mid-rally we flew everyone to Pyongyang in North Korea and I put on a friendship music concert there with the United Nations, the North Korean, South Korean and US governments and the Olympic committee. When I look back I think that pulling that one off was pretty crazy – that was definitely a momentous year for the rally itself. And I would have to say 2014: the route was Miami to Ibiza – half the route was through the US, Miami-Atlanta-New York, and then we flew the cars to Scotland and drove all the way down through Europe and finished in Ibiza. At the end of the rally I got married, so the rally was my bachelor week.
What car that you've driven in the rally is your favourite? I've used a different car every year. I'm going to say a Morgan Aero Coupe, because I love it being a hand-built British car, and Morgan cars are made in my hometown [Malvern] so I'm being a bit loyal to where I'm from.
What is your dream car? I have too many dream cars, but my ultimate dream car is a 1955 Jaguar D-Type – one that's got a bit of heritage of racing at Le Mans would top the wish list for me.
Do you have a driving playlist? I actually put together a Spotify playlist fairly recently, and I've done ones where I've incorporated the eclectic diversity of the music of people who have driven in the rally, so everything from the Happy Mondays to Major Lazer and my wife Eve.
What's your packing style? I pack light; two pairs of shoes, the basics, underwear etc, but on a road trip I am pretty light on everything else. I sometimes regret hosting more formal dinners en route where I know I can't fit in the clothes for that, so I try and source stuff ahead. On the rally that I got married at the end of, I was working with Fiat and we were driving an Abarth that I was collaborating on to design, and because I was getting married Fiat had two actual Formula 1 driving race suits made for my wife and I. Hers was all white and had elements of a wedding dress, and mine was a tuxedo version, so we had these proper driving suits as his and hers wedding attire.
What's your next adventure? I'm always planning adventures, both for work and personal life. I've got four children and I live half in London and half in LA, so I'm on a plane flying somewhere all the time. I kind of crave a week occasionally where I'm just in the English countryside, not going anywhere and just chilling at home.
Globe-Trotter is producing limited-edition leather goods for Gumball 3000 participants; gumball3000.com