By John Coyle
Assisted suicide is a complicated, highly controversial topic.
But in the lobby of Team AnastasiaDate.com’s London hotel after the first European leg of the Gumball 3000, support was unanimous. Had it been an option, I’m sure several members of our crew would have volunteered.
Because while London might be the home of the Gumball 3000, it’s also internationally known for being flagrantly hostile to autos, and instead of rolling into the celebration in Picadilly Circus, we all received a torturous lesson on navigating its famously complex streets during an enormous event. Margarita and co-driver Caleb couldn’t even get the Lamborghini onto the grid—and we weren’t the only team that got shut out.
But the painful evening would have unexpectedly awesome consequences.
Because we weren’t jammed in with all the other Gumballers, we didn’t have to wait until 10 a.m. to hit the road. So we met in the lobby of the hotel at 7:30 and sprinted out to the day’s single checkpoint—the Top Gear test track. I was riding shotgun with Margarita when we rolled up to this hallowed gearhead—or technically “petrolhead”, since it’s in England—ground, and while the famous test circuit wasn’t set up, the glorious expanse of runway was there, and we were among the first to arrive. There was no marshal, no gate, and almost no waiting.
The assembled cars took turns tearing down the strip the way kids take turns with a swing set at recess, and it’s safe to say everyone felt ten years old. Words fail me.
I was really hoping to top my personal max speed, but since we needed to make sure the Gallardo made it all the way to the finish line at Ibiza, we didn’t beat on the Lamborghini too hard—but I still got to make repeated 130 mph passes. In case you’re wondering, banging up through the gears and hearing an Italian at full song just doesn’t get old.
I also got a chance to drive the 500 Abarth, which was a little bit of letdown—primarily due to the fact that it had paddles instead of a proper gearbox. It’s still a cool car, but with the paddles, it felt like it might have been made by Fisher-Price instead of Fiat. Given how much I enjoyed flogging the Competizione model through Scotland the previous day, I think the lack of a third pedal kind of neuters the Italian pocket rocket.
Without a doubt, the coolest car at the track was the BRABUS Bullet. I had chatted with its owner—a super cool, but camera-shy guy named Frank from Team Masters of Speed—about the 2010 BRABUS Mercedes-Benz EV12 at the bar in Miami, and watching this thing perform was mind-blowing.
It started life as a humble E-Class, a car familiar to Europeans as a taxi cab. But the sick minds at BRABUS jammed a twin-turbo V12 under the hood, and tuned it to create 800 horsepower with a top speed of 230 mph. In case you’re wondering, it’s one of ten and costs north of $600,000. Team AnastasiaDate.com actually has a couple of videos of this bad boy at work—including one where four-time Gumballer Caleb took it to an indicated 220 mph. They’re being edited now and I’ll post them ASAP. This thing is a beast!
Stay tuned for more 2014 Gumball 3000 updates from Team AnastasiaDate.com!