The Gumball Rally (1976)

The Gumball Rally is a 1976 film about a coast-to-coast road race.

Michael Bannon (Michael Sarrazin), a wealthy but bored businessman and candymaker, issues the code word “Gumball” to his fellow automobile enthusiasts, who gather in a garage in New York City to embark on a coast-to-coast race “with no catalytic converter and no 55-mile-per-hour speed limit,” in the shortest amount of time. There is only one rule: “There are no rules.”

Their longtime nemesis, LAPD Lieutenant Roscoe (Normann Burton), also learns of the race (no explanation of how he learns of it is provided). Most of the film is devoted to the adventures of the various driving teams and Roscoe’s ineffectual attempts to apprehend them.

A number of running gags ensue – the Jaguar that will not start; the silent Lapchik’s (Harvey Jason) numerous mishaps; Italian race driver Franco Bertollini’s (Raúl Juliá) frequent detours to seduce beautiful women – as well as some stunts and driving sequences. The race ends at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California where the finishers celebrate their adventures and the defeated Roscoe sulks off to one side – until a fleet of police cars and tow trucks, summoned by Roscoe, arrive to impound the Gumball vehicles. Roscoe had contrived to see to it that all of them were guaranteed to be illegally parked once the post-race party in the parking lot ran past 11 PM.

Bannon congratulates Roscoe on his final victory (final because Roscoe, who has been after Bannon and Smith since they were in high school, has reached mandatory retirement age) and again utters the command “Gumball” to initiate a race back to New York.

The Movie’s Stars

The pivotal role in the movie were the competition between a blue 427 Shelby Cobra and red Ferrari Daytona Spyder.

The Shelby Cobra was designed in cooperation with Ford. The chassis was built using 4 in (101.6 mm) main chassis tubes, up from 3 in (76.2 mm) and coil spring suspension all around. The car also had wide fenders and a larger radiator opening. It was powered by the “side oiler” Ford 427 cu in (7.0 L) FE engine rated at 425 bhp (431 PS; 317 kW) @ 6000 rpm and 480 lb·ft (651 N·m) @ 3700 rpm of torque, which provided a top speed of 164 mph (262 km/h) in the standard model and 485 bhp (362 kW) with a top speed of 185 mph (298 km/h) in the competition model

The Ferrari Daytona, officially designated the Ferrari 365 GTB/4, is a two-seat grand tourer produced from 1968 to 1973. It featured the 275’s Colombo V12 bored out to 4.4 L (4,390.35 cc, 267.9 cid). The engine, known as the Tipo 251 and developed from the earlier Colombo V12 with a 60° bank angle used in the 275 GTB/4, was a 4,390 cc (4.4 L; 267.9 cu in) DOHC 2 valves per cylinder, 365 cc per cylinder, featuring 6X2 barrel Weber 40 DCN/20 carburetors. At a Compression ratio of 8.8:1, it produced 259 kW (352 PS; 347 hp) @ 7500 rpm and a maximum torque of 431 N·m (318 lb·ft) @ 5500 rpm, could reach 280 km/h (174 mph). 0-60 mph (97 km/h) acceleration was just 5.4 seconds. The five-speed manual transmission (of the transaxle concept) was mounted in the rear for optimal weight distribution, and a four-wheel independent suspension featured wishbones and coil springs. The generally accepted total number of Daytonas from the Ferrari club historians is 122 factory-made spyders.

In 1971, the Daytona gained fame when one was driven by Dan Gurney and Brock Yates in the inaugural Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. Showcasing the car’s potential for sustained high speed travel, the pair won with an average speed of 80.1 miles per hour (129 km/h), completing the distance from New York City to L.A. in 35 hours 54 minutes (2,876 miles (4,628 km)). Gurney was later quoted as saying “We never once exceeded 175 miles per hour.”

The final duel between the Cobra and Ferrari was filmed at (and in) the Los Angeles River

Race results

  1. AC Cobra: First place.
  2. Ferrari Daytona: Second place.
  3. Porsche 911: Completed race. Third place by parking of cars.
  4. Dodge Polara: Completed race.
  5. Mercedes 300 SL Roadster: Completed race.
  6. Kawasaki Motorcycle: Completed race. Last competitor to finish.
  7. Camaro: Did not finish. Wrecked on LA Freeway.
  8. Chevrolet Van: Did not finish. Caught fire and wrecked in fireworks factory.
  9. Corvette: Did not finish. Wrecked in New York City.
  10. Jaguar XKE: Did not finish. Failed to start and never crossed the starting line.
  11. Rolls Royce: Not an official entry. Did not finish. Delivered to owner in Beverly Hills; brakes failed in driveway and Rolls crashed into pickup truck.
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