Gumball 3000 Rally begins in London

Updated: May 26, 2011, 4:47 PM ET
Associated Press

LONDON -- Olympic ski champion Bode Miller and NFL star Reggie Bush were among the celebrities who sped out of central London Thursday for the 12th edition of the Gumball 3000 Rally, a seven-day car race stretching across 10 European countries.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Cody Glenn and Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Shawne Merriman were other NFL players embarking on the 3,000-mile trip across the continent alongside personalities from TV, music and entertainment.

A total of 120 cars, ranging from Ferraris to Lamborghinis and Bentleys, will roll through Paris, Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Venice, Belgrade and Sofia before crossing the line in Istanbul on June 1. There will be parties aplenty en route.

"I think it's just a really cool opportunity for people who are normally not able to hang out together and come together to have a party and have fun," said Miller, the five-time Olympic medalist and two-time overall World Cup champion who is teaming up for the race with Swedish X Games champion freeskier Jon Olsson.

"You know, they are all really successful, fun-loving people ... car enthusiasts but more just fun enthusiasts, so that just fits me pretty well," Miller said. "I'm happy to be here."

Merriman roared out of a rain-soaked Covent Garden square in the heart of the English capital in a white Bentley VT, complete with gold rims.

"It's pretty cool, man, one of the coolest cars out here," Merriman said.

Merriman said he wasn't worried about the dangers of racing high-powered cars around foreign roads.

"I'm not really bothered about that -- I'm up against 350-pound guys every day, I can deal with this," he said. "I would just say that I'd do anything to win, including letting down a few tires. Anything you got to do to win, that's all that matters."

The race will stop in Monte Carlo on Sunday for Formula One's Monaco Grand Prix.

"This year's route is a great one. Ten different language-speaking countries in seven days and there's a really eclectic group of people in the cars as always," race founder Maximillion Cooper said.

Former Baywatch actor David Hasselhoff, hip-hop star EVE and members of the Jackass and Dirty Sanchez are also among the field of 250 entrants, many of whom attended the race's launch at the Playboy Club in central London on Wednesday.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE