Click image above for high-res gallery by the author and guest photog Jason Thorgalsen

There are several Cannonball Run-type rallies that take place around the country (around the world in some cases). Fast cars breaking the sound barrier as they hustle from coast-to-coast in search of fame and glory. Well, that's how some of them started, at any rate. Nowadays the rallies tend to be a bunch of rich folks with exotic cars touring the States with a smattering of track sessions here and there to really test the cars and drivers. Luxury hotels and VIP parties mark the nights and moderately fast (in theory) highway cruises mark the days. One of these new age rallies just kicked off on its maiden run from the Santa Monica Pier over the weekend. And it was quite a celebration.

The cars are familiar, some of the faces too, but this rally has a slight twist. Billed as a sort of exotic car vacation run, the Joy Ride Rally has a deeper purpose. Part of the entry fee from each driver goes to support the Salvation Army's Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. The rallyists will follow a route through the Southwest and end up in New Orleans in about a week, to view some of the damaged areas first hand. We were on hand for the launch from the Santa Monica Pier and tagged along for a bit to get some shots. The police escort was a nice touch, but we had to explain to every single officer that we were indeed part of the entourage despite our lack of a supercar. The cars gathered on the classic wooden pier with a big crowd enjoying the free show.

Follow the jump for the rest of the story, plus video of the departure courtesy Duane Steiner at SoCalSpeedZone!

[Source: Joy Ride Rally]


The folks who made it down to the pier on Saturday morning got to see some of the most iconic supercars and exotics on the planet. Spyker, Maybach, Lamborghini, Porsche, Lotus, Corvette, Viper and Ferrari, were joined by some super-hot MINIs by Fireball Tim and a representation of tuner magic in the form of some highly modified Japanese and American rides. Sitting in the shadow of the pier's famous arcade and fun zone rides, participants gathered and had their cars slathered with vinyl sponsor decals while getting their swag bags and route info. They also had some live entertainment from local dancers and DJs. There were also photo opps with drivers and cars, including run host Ashley Van Dyke who was piloting a Nismo 350Z. Quickly and capably, we might add.

Motivated to "help rebuild the historic city of New Orleans" the Joy Ride organizers decided to do this as a charity run, with $1,000 from each entry fee going to the fund. Besides the satisfaction of knowing they contributed to a good cause, participants have most of their expenses covered during the rally. Each entry fee includes 5 Star luxury hotel accommodations, prepaid gas cards, police escorts in & out of various towns, support vehicles for emergencies and cargo hauling, all meals, VIP parties, track and training events, even mechanics and spare tires! 'Life is a Gift, Enjoy the Ride...' is one of the Joy Ride's slogans and makes a lot of sense when you picture the cars and the itinerary. Check out the website where you can follow along with the group's progress as they head towards Bourbon Street on the 28th.

Don't forget to check out our gallery too. Special thanks to photographer Jason Thorgalsen and Duane Steiner for shooting and sharing.

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