It’s likely that many of you have never seen “The Gumball Rally.” I have. I’m likely one of the few to see it on the silver screen (as a kid). This weekend, I’ll have my own little Gumball Rally.
I can’t say whether my opinion is biased because I saw “The Gumball Rally” before “The Cannonball Run” (1984) and its sequels. But to this day I think “The Gumball Rally” is the best car-centric movies about an illicit coast-to-coast race than any of the Cannonball films.
Sure, it didn’t have A-list stars (it did help move along the careers of Gary Busey as his nutty self and Raul Julia as Italian loverboy and Le Mans winner Franco Bertollini) and one has to get past the initial shock of its 1970s production quality. But it’s a better film.
A comparison of all the cars in each film is a wash. However, the lead characters in “The Gumball Rally” (Michael Sarrazin as Michael Bannon and Nicholas Pryor as Professor Samuel Graves) drive an AC Cobra while the protagonists in “The Cannonball Run” (Burt Reynolds as J.J. McClure and Dom DeLuise as Victor Prinzi) drive a souped-up Dodge Tradesman ambulance. Hal Needham and Brock Yates’ actually drove a Tradesman in the actual 1979 race upon which both movies are based, but I’ll take the painfully quick and sexy Cobra any day. The stunt driving by 1960s Cobra racer John Morton lends realism to “The Gumball Rally” and, overall, the cars in “The Gumball Rally” are more beautiful.
If you want stunts, “Cannonball Run” wins. But the scenes of pure speed in “The Gumball Rally” don’t get in the way of funnymen being funny and vice versa.
I love the one liners peppered throughout “The Gumball Rally.” Erstwhile race organizer Michael Bannon: “Some of you won’t make it, but for those of you that do there will be no glory, no headlines. Just a few magic hours flat-out against the red line with no catalytic converter and no 55-mile-per-hour speed limit.” Then there is Raul Julia’s race car driver character’s commentary, with a somewhat corny but appropriate Italian accent, on the rear view mirror: “What’s behind me is not important.”
A final showdown in the L.A. River puts “The Gumball Rally” over the top. (The actors reportedly drove the cars throughout most of the movie, even in the river.)
This Monday I’ll be leaving Palm Desert with my wife, driving a Lincoln Town Car to the San Francisco Bay Area as a “hired driver.” I’ll be Jose from “The Gumball Rally,” the down-on-his-luck mechanic who hired on drive a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow without telling the owner would be racing cross country, to my wife’s Angie (Jose’s girlfriend).
It’ll be like my own personal Gumball Rally. Except for the high speeds, a paint-peeling sandstorm or trophy.
It’ll only be 500 miles instead of 2,800, but with the right attitude, any road trip can be fun.
( I dedicate this trip to all of my Gumball crew from Perris High School, Class of 1981. It was what I did with you that led to my so-far 27-year career.)
On a stream last week my needs (a solid and reliable rod and reel) transcended desires (the latest and greatest gear). Maybe it’s the fact that I landed a good number of fish, and not one looked at my rod in disgust. (I did get the downturned eye of disdain, but only once they were in the net.)
And while that argument has been settled, this week it’s become clear that I’ll forever covet any conveyance that’ll get me to the water with a dollop of awesomeness.
Nothing screams “Get off my
lawn river!” like three tons of vintage Dodge Power Wagon.
Ask around, do a little research and you’ll likely find that the question “what’s the best vehicle for fly fishing” is often answered “truck.”
But I’m still
paying into social security so others can fly fish when they want a working stiff. I need transportation that is, first and foremost, reliable, and just as important, economical. I have to spend money on gas to make money, and the less I spend upfront the better.
During better weather, the Honda CB750 and its 45+ miles per gallon is a fine option. But it’s difficult to load the necessary fly fishing gear, and the cooler of post-fishing beer, on a motorcycle. I’ve tried.
Being a bit obsessive about conducting research on anything that will cost more than $50, I’ve been thinking — probably too much according to those around me — about the vehicle that, in about 1½ to 2 years, will replace my current 2003 Honda Accord. Since I’ll likely buy a certified pre-owned car, it’s going to be something currently on the market. My current car gets 30 to 32 mpg most of the time, and on long trips to fishing venues, I’ve seen 34+ mpg. But over 80% of my driving is commuting to and from work.
I’ve debated the merits of various models, including sport utility vehicles and all-wheel-drive cars. A hybrid is out of the question; too heavy and not enough clearance for the occasional Forest Service road. Subaru is a commonly offered up make as an all-encompassing solution. But I’ve noticed two things: most Subaru owners talk about the sportiness of the ride, the go-almost-anywhere capability, but rarely praise their cars’ mpg, and it seems to be a roll of the dice when it comes to build quality. That might be said about any make, but that’s my experience.
Despite the fact that I’ve been a Honda owner for well over 20 years, I opened up my consideration to other options, particularly now that the mpg on midsize sedans is edging up.
But, and a bit ironically, it’s fly fishing that helped firmed up my decision. At least for now.
I’ve driven my Honda on a good many, only slightly improved, Forest Service roads. Sometimes for miles, over the relatively soft dirt along the Upper Owens River, for example, or over rocks on my way to the Little Walker River, and on washboard roads in the hills behind the cabin.
Still, the doggone car doesn’t squeak or rattle.
I’m hoping this will still hold true for my next car, until that someday when I can justify a dedicated fishing truck.