Gumball 3000’s Maximillion Cooper Talks About Living Life In The Fast Lane

Everything about Maximillion Cooper is extraordinary—from his name to his lifestyle, his phenomenal wife, American rapper Eve, and the distinctive name of his business. Throughout the Briton’s remarkable life, Cooper has dabbled in many fields that have influenced his interests and career. This includes representing sporting national level teams in his teenage years, cultivating an interest in freestyle BMX and graffiti, and taking to the runways of Giorgio Armani. Cooper also studied Fashion Design alongside Alexander McQueen and then completed a Law and Film Studies degree before pursuing his ambition as a racing driver.

Maximillion Cooper, Founder and CEO of Gumball 3000.

The multifaceted passions of the Founder and CEO of Gumball 3000 culminated in the creation of his multimillion-dollar venture in 1999. The annual rally combines music, fashion and popular culture, and takes more than 100 supercars on public roads to become a bucket list event attended by the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Usher in the past.

This year, the rally—he stresses that it is not a race—takes place from 14 to 22 September, and will kick off in Saigon, wind its way down Vietnam to Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia, before ending with a bang during Singapore’s F1 weekend.

Gumball 3000 is due to celebrate its 25th anniversary. What do you think has been pivotal to its success in the past?

Our success is down to creating a brand, environment and global movement that has allowed us to combine cultures, nationalities and influencers from all over the world, and one that is constantly breaking barriers and evolving. We treat the annual rally like a fashion brand releasing its next new collectionby both hosting the route through a new location every year, and by inviting a combination of established talent and heads of industry along with the newest, hottest stars of the moment. This keeps the rally culturally relevant and exciting, plus it is always adding to its ever-increasing influential alumni members.

Batman arrives in London.

The rally will be stopping by Kuala Lumpur this year. Can you drop us any hints about what to look forward to?

We’re excited to bring the rally to Malaysia for the first time. We’re planning to host a huge public event at Dataran Merdeka, celebrating the arrival of the cars for the rally as well as a music concert with some huge artists that will be free for the public to attend. We’ll also be hosting a super VVIP party that night for the Gumball participants and KL’s celebrities. That will be the party to go to!

You’ve met rockstars and royalty and everyone in between. If you could co-drive with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

I have several heroes, all of whom are sadly no longer with us, but if I could bring them all back to participate in the rally, I’m sure they’d have a great time. These would be the legendary film star Steve McQueen and my childhood F1 heroes James Hunt and Ayrton Senna. I’d also bring Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, David Bowie, and Joe Strummer from The Clash to entertain us at the parties.

The Hoff and Cooper.

You’ve told some crazy stories from your trips, including karaoke with Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang. Can you share any other memories that stand out?

The 2001 rally route was from London to Saint Petersburg, through Eastern Europe, and then back to London through Scandinavia (Helsinki, Stockholm, and Copenhagen). This was a time when driving through the former Soviet Union countries ran the risk of being carjacked, kidnapped or worse, especially considering we were a cavalcade of supercars!

I thrived on the sheer adventure of it all but, naturally, most of the participants were incredibly scared. I managed to bring in the British Special Air Service to provide security for the rally, and I helped facilitate a rare co-security operation with the Russian Special Operations Forces to join us when we crossed the border into Russia. They provided high-speed escorts with helicopter gunships flying above each convoy heading into Saint Petersburg. Memories of that were like a movie scene, and something I feel probably couldn’t happen again. It was crazy!

What’s your favourite piece of art in your collection?
A very early Banksy oil painting called Happy Chopper. It’s an old oil painting of an English country landscape with a menacing military helicopter stencilled on top. It embraces the cultural contrasts of old and new, tradition and anti-establishment that I can relate to.

Rapper Eve arrives in Dublin.

If you could only keep one car in your collection, which one would it be?

A 1965 Aston Martin DB5, of course.

What music are you listening to right now?

David Bowie’s Blackstar album.

You lead a pretty unconventional life. Walk us through your average day.

My life is a constant juggle of balancing the seemingly constant travel schedule planning future Gumball adventures, business relationships, and tagging along with my wife’s equally frenetic life performing all over the world. This goes along with making sure I’m a good dad and husband, and being there for my wife and five children whenever they need me. If I’m in London, time is spent managing and curating my ever-increasing art collection and then having dinner at a fancy members’ club.

More photos of the Gumball 3000 rally

Gumball 3000

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