3-Minute Interview: Maximillion Cooper

The founder of the Gumball 3000 will be in town for the 10th annual car rally, which starts in San Francisco and ends in China. The opening is at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Fairmont Hotel. Participating cars will be on view at Sacramento and Taylor streets; the rally officially begins at 1 p.m.

Why are you starting in San Francisco this year? We were here in 2003, and Willie Brown put on a big party for us.

What’s the route this year? It goes from Los Angeles to San Diego to Las Vegas, then we fly to North Korea, then on to Beijing … I wanted to say I’ve gone to the Olympics.

Is it as much a show as a journey? It’s more of a show than anything else. In each city, it’s effectively a public event that combines people from different worlds — music, film, cars, action sports.

How has the rally changed throughout the years? It’s grown. At first, we didn’t close any streets, it was small and intimate.
Now it’s quite grand, we have to set up crowd barriers for a quarter of a mile. We had over a million people in London last year.

Can you talk about the drivers? It’s full of eccentric characters, like in “Cannonball Run,” if you remember that. We’ve got
the Saudi sheik, the Russian billionaire, the Chinese [people] who don’t speak English.

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