Story: Michael Crenshaw
Photography: Andrew Link
Any great road trip must have an equally amazing crew, which is just as important as the car…as are the roads, as is the experience. It’s a cohesive bond that only an event like Gumball 3000 could pull off. For seven days, some of the world’s most exclusive cars come out to play with 200 others vying for the “ultimate road trip.” This is no race—there’s no timing and most don’t bother looking at their watches—it’s an adventure.
This year’s race was held across none other than the United States, and what better car to cover this great land with than the Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon: comfort, power and all American.
With a 556-horsepower Cadillac to run cross-country, a sick matte-white Scotchprint 1080 wrap by 3MWraps.com installed by our friends at mattemycar.com, GFG Sunset wheels and (first on U.S. soil) Falken Azenis FK-453 tires, RIDES had the perfect vehicle for speeds (we will not mention), burnouts that were legendary and fanfare like no other.
We mapped the seven days of automotive bliss in the following pages. If you were there, these will serve as a reminder, and if you weren’t, we hope you enjoy our chronicle of the road trip of a lifetime. It starts right now.
DAY 1: NY, NJ, PA, ON (Canada)
DAY 2: ON, MI, OH, IN
As we prepare in our Times Square hotel room with all the necessities—beef jerky, GoPros, DSLRs, memory cards, radar detector, binoculars and the innate feeling that we’ll get tickets—the giddiness really starts hitting us. A once-red Cadillac was transformed into a blank, matte-white canvas and then into a stickered-up contestant for Gumball 3000. With the number 11 slapped on the Caddy, we enter the Times Square grid (yes, Gumball shut down Times Square) with 3,000 miles ahead of us and an epic scene of supercar eye candy: everything from brand-new Ferrari 458s to Phantom Drophead Coupes, SLR McLarens, Camaros and even an Olds 442 with four MILFs behind the wheel.
Once all 150 cars are lined up and ready, the ceremonial emcee, none other than David “The Hoff” Hasselhoff, waves the flags and it begins. New York City to Toronto, Ontario, via Niagara Falls comes with a ticket in between, many Red Bulls consumed and speed limits broken, but our entrance into Toronto is legendary, with a burnout that shuts it down.
Some serious rest later, we pack our bags, leave Toronto and crawl out of Canada. Because, seriously, the cops here are straight squares who have a penchant for putting the Gumballers in jail or, more effed up, seizing our cars (which happens to some).
After breaking out of Canada, we stop by the massive General Motors facilities in Detroit, where one of the great American rebuilding initiatives is taking place. We explore the giant, abandoned Michigan Central Station and marvel at the deterioration of what was once a great hub of the American landscape.
A quick five-hour, 300-mile jaunt to Indianapolis and we are on our way to the Indy 500.
DAY 3: IN
DAY 4: IN, IL, MO
With roughly 18,000 horsepower in a field of 33 cars, the 101st Indy 500 really turns out to be the “biggest spectacle in racing.” The sound, speed and fans are incredible. Plus, our baller suite doesn’t hurt: cold beer, good food and sexy foreign women to speak to. We are in the presence of some of the elite members of society, and it sure feels like it. The Gumball family knows how to do it right.
At this point, the camaraderie with our fellow Gumballers is reaching a high point. From our start point at the Indy 500, we come across some of the best cars in the rally. From a Morgan 3 Wheeler to a Lamborghini Aventador wrapped in chrome to a 427 Shelby Cobra, our car packs are increasing in both size and in sheer epic diversity.
The RIDES Cadillac is becoming the surprise ride of the group. With 556 horsepower on tap via a supercharged V8, exotics are getting outrun and double-takes are constant. This wagon—filled to the brim with luggage and equipment—is not only able to keep up but often to overcome cars priced at twice as much. At one point during the romp to Kansas City, we have three Mercedes-Benz SLSs, a Nissan GT-R, a (matte purple) Ferrari 458, a Local Motors Rally Fighter, a Chevy Corvette, an SL55 Renntech and an Aston Martin, all accomplishing speeds that are not only ludicrous but the most fun we’ve had all trip.
DAY 5: MO, KS, OK, NM
DAY 6: NM, AZ, NV
The drive from Kansas City, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico—a huge expanse of highway, open plains and nothingness—is long, with roughly 850 miles and 15 hours of driving. However, this is probably the best part of the trip. Seeing one-horse villages with residents lined up outside awaiting our arrival is humbling. Photos and even autographs are exchanged for deputy sheriff badges and huge smiles. We are celebrities for no other reason than our love of the automobile.
There are few things like the open air of a plains state. At 2 A.M. we stand on a main highway with no one around and howl at coyotes in the distance. Yes, we actually bellow out shrieks like our wolf brethren in some weird, animalistic fashion, but it is one of the most memorable events of the trip. G’head, try it one day.
The strangest juxtaposition of the journey comes when leaving the peacefulness of Santa Fe, seeing the encroaching mountains as we move farther west, and then coming upon the monstrous hole in the ground known as the Grand Canyon, only to set course for the biggest party capital in the world: Las Vegas.
The Spearmint Rhino empties our pockets; the sheiks throw lavish parties in three-floor hotel rooms, and Bun B ends the night right with a party that won’t soon be forgotten. Sometimes you can’t explain everything that goes on without going into further detail—and I’m not about to do that here.
DAY 7: NV, CA
The final day. The soft linens of the Cosmopolitan bedspread feel as comfortable as any bed I’ve ever slept in after six days of partying and driving, yet, somehow, it’s sad that this is the last day for heroics and celebrity.
Fortunately, for the fatigued drivers of the CTS-V, we have DJ Drama man the helm for the last miles to Los Angeles, where Hollywood, hookers and fake-ass would-be celebrity impersonators wait for us to arrive in our bug-terminator vehicle.
The smell of burnt Falkens has become intoxicating to the three of us, and once we arrive, we aren’t going to leave Hollywood without leaving our mark, literally. With a set of new FK-453s on the rear, we rev the V8 to its threshold, drop the clutch and tear up Hollywood Boulevard with a massive smoke show for L.A.’s finest, who seem extremely pissed off. However, they won’t ruin our fun today, nor our trip, because this was one for the books. Until next year…