Let's Talk About the Gambler 500By: Grant Marek
You know how sometimes your buddy is all "Yo, do you know what the Gambler 500 is?"
And you're all "Of course I do, what do you think I'm some kind of noob? Just out of curiousity, what do YOU think it is, though?"
And then your buddy is all "Well, I think it's a 500-mile, mostly off-road race through Oregon where everyone is driving either 1) $500-or-less beater cars, or 2) comedically awesome vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances. You stop at the 250-mile mark at a campsite, have a huge rager, then wake up the next day and crush through the other 250 miles -- first one to the finish line gets a ginormous trophy with a toy car on top of it."
And you're all "Tooooootally right, good thing we're on the same page."
And then you call Gambler 500 founder Andy Munson because you actually had no idea what the Gambler 500 was until you super slyly tricked your buddy into telling you, and you tell Andy you definitely, 100% know the origin story of the Gambler 500 (WHO DOESN'T, RIGHT??), but just want to make sure HE knows it, and then Andy is all, "Well, 2014 was the first year, my buddy Tate was like, 'It would be cool to get a bunch of guys together, all go out and buy sh***y $500 cars and see how far we can go.' We had 14 cars the first year. Last year we had 28. Then 31 this year. I think about half the cars made it back. There's definitely guys who buy cars and try to supe them up so they can rally, but the vast majority buy cars that wouldn't do well, just because it's fun to see what happens to them. Most guys are not afraid to go hard with them even if don't come home."
And then you're all, "Yep, nailed it, good job, and just as a quick follow up, do you remember how the race course works? I mean, I do, but just checking if YOU do..."
And then Andy is all "The Wizard of Waypoints does it, we had 25 GPS checkpoints this year which he gives you in the Corner Saloon parking lot, you leave Saturday at 6am and have an hour and a half to get up to Mt. Hood where the actual start is, it's probably 9-10 hours of driving after that, you get out to central Oregon and then people party -- we get fires going, there's always some kind of short course in camp, like a gravel quarry with ponds of standing water where dudes try to go over the gravel piles and then through the water, and then you wake up kinda hungover and check out whenever you want and finish at the Corner Saloon on Sunday afternoon, get more beers and food, do the trophy ceremony, share funny stories, and then gameplan for next year."
And then you're all "Right again! You're totally killing it. OK and then the last thing, do you recall -- again I already know the answer to this -- the coolest cars that have competed in this thing?"
And then Andy is all, "There's the Gambulance -- it's an ambulance with keg taps coming out of the side of it, it's amazing -- then last year a hearse, that was dope and it ran pretty good until it sheered all the lugnuts off a tire, then a pinzgauer 6-wheeler, and the firetruck. One of the best stories this year though, there were these guys who spent so much time working on a Ford Mustang, they rallied it really hard on the off-road section, it got a horrible wobble in it, so they stopped in the closest town, put it on Craigslist, sold it for $400, then hitched ride back to camp. In camp, they called the autopart store, found a Nissan the next day, gave the guy the $400 for it, and gambled all the way back."
And then you're all "Dude, right again. Great work, see you at next year's event."
And then you hang up, and realize you forgot to see if he even knows how to enter next year's event (IT'S SO OBVIOUS GEEZ), and so you text him and he tells you there's a Facebook page and if you can find it, there's an outside chance you can slide your way into next year's field. No promises, but if you've got an ice cream truck or the Batmobile, your odds are probably gonna go up.