Click above for a hi-res gallery of the Gumballers' arrival at South Beach

Well folks, it's over. The wacky/insipid/annoying (all-of-the-above?) 2009 edition of the Gumball 3000 wrapped things up with the drivers' arrival in Miami Beach. Freelance journo and friend of Autoblog Myles Kornblatt was there, and he ends his coverage with one final photo gallery and this report:

There's something special about seeing ultra-rare cars at the end of an eight-day, 3000-mile road trip. By the time the 2009 Gumball 3000 ended in Miami on Friday evening not only were the drivers visibly road weary, but so were their vehicles. Supercars were built to be driven, and these machines had the dead bugs, brake dust and road scars to prove it.

One hundred and twenty-three teams participated in the 11th running of the Gumball, and according to rally VP Julie Brangstrup, everyone finished. "Every Gumballer has the spirit to do whatever it takes to cross the finish line." Unfortunately not all the vehicles shared their driver's determination, and so some rental cars finished as stand-ins for injured road warriors. One Gumballer was even on his third vehicle by the time he reached Miami.

Some enthusiasts see the Gumball as a rip-off of the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash (which has evolved into today's One Lap of America.) That's not completely true. The term "Gumball Rally" was first used on a 1976 road race film that Cannonball founder Brock Yates considers to be sort of a bastard child of his rally. The Gumball Rally was Hollywood's excuse to use some minor celebrates for an over-the-top take on the road race (it even features a pre-crazy Gary Busey.) Today, the Gumball 3000 uses a mix of famous, rich and half-crazed participants, who are more about the party than the time clock. Any enthusiast who has seen the film (anyone who is a car guy/girl should,) knows these good-timing Gumballers have as much character as a movie script.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Myles Kornblatt / Weblogs, Inc.

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