The Wallester team regularly takes part in global events that are charitable and socially beneficial. One of the largest and most memorable events of this year for us was our participation in the Gumball 3000 Rally. It is one of the world's most exclusive and extravagant car rallies — a road trip for celebrities and white collars that also raises money for charities.
The rally was founded by British businessman and former racecar driver Maximillion Cooper. The racing event shares its name with "The Gumball Rally," a 1976 comedy film about US coast-to-coast race. Gumball 3000 has been hosted by over 50 countries, touching locations like New York, Shanghai, Istanbul, Osaka, Bucharest, and many others. Since 2013, Gumball 3000 has held an annual auction throughout the rally, with all proceeds going to the foundation’s charity.
To participate in the rally, you must fill in the application form at gumball3000.com, provide your personal and car details, and give your reasons for participating. After paying the entrance fees (more than $50,000), you can travel to the rally origin city with your vehicle and all the necessary paperwork required to drive legally in all the participating countries.
This year the event took place in Dubai — for the first time in the Middle East, and it was the second Gumball 3000 rally of 2022 after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic. Wallester’s Co-Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Management Board, Sergei Astafjev, was one of the participants of Gumball 3000. In this interview, he shared his impressions of the event.
Was it a spontaneous decision to participate in Gumball, or did you prepare for it in advance?
Our good friend, who had previously participated in the race, praised this exciting event and advised us to go to the rally. First of all, Gumball 3000 attracted us with its social assistance opportunities, which are fully consistent with the mission and vector of our company.
We started preparing for the event a little less than a year ago.
Describe the atmosphere of the race; what did you feel during the event? Were you worried?
We arrived in Dubai the day before the start of the rally to get some acclimatization. After all, it is sweltering in the UAE, but here in Estonia, it’s already quite cold at this time of the year.
All Gumball 3000 members lived in the same hotel, got to know each other, talked, took pictures, and had fun. So the atmosphere was very positive.
Tell us about the participants; what countries and business areas were the riders from? How big was the event?
In total, racers from 35 countries participated in the rally — from Australia to Estonia. On the first day of the event, the registration procedure for participants took place, and each of us received Gumball 3000 branded merch — nice t-shirts, caps, and bags.
Were there any dangerous or unusual situations along the way?
We were a little afraid of unforeseen problems- technical failures, a blown tire, or a traffic violation — because the rally mostly takes place on public roads. But our technical support team did an excellent job preparing the car for the race, and we are grateful to them! A distance of 3000 miles is difficult to foresee everything, but we didn't have any problems.
In your opinion, how much will participation in Gumball 3000 affect Wallester's brand awareness? What is the overall benefit?
Participation in an event of this size is an opportunity to support people who need help. The more charitable initiatives are brought to life, the more benefits successful companies and celebrities can bring to people. Gumball 3000 does a great job of this. We are delighted to be part of this event. In such projects, brand awareness fades into the background.
What supercars did you see there? Did something impress you?
Of course! Gumball 3000 is where you can see the coolest cars of our time. The rally riders rode expensive cars like Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Ferrari and even Bugatti Divo.
By the way, did you meet any celebrities at Gumball 3000?
Yes, famous American rap singer French Montana was among the participants, as well as Latin American pop idol Ricky Martin. We also had a chance to meet with the famous British car vlogger and YouTuber Tim Burton, better known as Shmee 150.
How costly is such an event from a financial point of view?
As I said, charity is always at the forefront of Gumball 3000. After registration, a charity evening was held, during which participants donated to various Gumball charitable foundations. The number of donations determined the position of the auto team at the start.
The Wallester team, as part of the TEAM 100 racing crew, started from the third position.
A week on the road — how difficult was it? Did you manage to see something besides the rally route?
Although most of the route passed through the desert, the trip was an enjoyable experience. Only one day was challenging enough when we had to drive for about 12 hours straight. The rally's route covered a significant part of the Middle East, starting in Dubai, then passing through Jebel Akhdar, Salalah, Muscat, and Ras Al-Khaimah, ending in Abu Dhabi at the Formula 1 circuit.
All race participants were given route maps for each day. During the stops, exciting events were held with national flavors and local treats. We rode horses in the desert, watched camel races, and drove buggies.
During the race, we saw desert tornadoes and wild goats — for people from a northern country, such things are very unusual. I would also like to note the locals' very cheerful and polite attitude. Communicating with the people we met along the way was pleasant and exciting. And in Muscat, about 1000 people greeted us with applause. We were even interviewed — like real superstars.
What place did you take? Are you satisfied with the result?
Our team finished second. As I said, the result is not important. It was much more important to communicate with interesting and friendly people.
Is Gumball 3000 more business or entertainment?
Gumball 3000 is first and foremost people. These are meetings and acquaintances with interesting people from different parts of the world. At the same time, these acquaintances may become the beginning of partnerships in the future.
Are you planning to take part in Gumball 3000 next year?
We really enjoyed participating in an event of such scale and goals. Very likely, we will come to Gumball 3000 again in 2023. Next year we also plan to participate in the race in Scotland, the United Kingdom, and Montenegro. These races promise to be very exciting!