Can you think of a better way to spend your time than driving a heavily modded banger from party to party, all the while ridding the landscape of trash and junk? Me neither. The Gambler 500 is unique among rallying events, a heady mix of off-roading, exploration, and treasure hunting.
The first event started out with 28 motley drivers hammering through the Oregon wilderness in cars that looked like they’d been vivisected in a junkyard. Fast-forward to this year, and the Gambler attracted 8,000 participants, drawn by its grassroots do-it-yourself ethos. It’s a bit like Mad Max but with a social conscience (and a 500-buck budget cap).
And the growing popularity only increases its positive impact on the environment this year alone 500,000 lbs of trash came out of the woods, among it vehicles including boats, Winnebagos, and even a school bus! Now the Gambler 500 has made its way into the virtual world a partnership with BeamNG.drive came about in May this year and now the vehicle simulation game’s developers have made new vehicles available for players to complete 25 new missions across several maps.
What is the Gambler 500?
Put as simply as possible, the Gambler 500 is part-rally, part-trail cleanup, and part-party. The first rally was back in 2014, organised by Tate Morgan and his friends, and was a pretty small affair 28 people in 14 cars. The original idea was to see if you could travel 500 miles in a $500 car while collecting rubbish and abandoned vehicles from the landscape you pass through.
Participants bring their modded cars, and are encouraged to cap their spending at $500 – this isn’t a strict requirement, more a limitation to encourage creativity and add to the ragtag DIY aesthetic of the rally. They are then given a set of coordinates and a map, and depart for various checkpoints using whatever means necessary. GPS and other navigation tools are allowed, but the challenge often takes participants through remote and challenging terrain.
Having a virtual version of the Gambler 500 might seem counterintuitive to the ethos and intentions of the rally, but if there is one driving simulator that can pull it off it’s BeamNG.drive. The game’s advanced physics engine, which accurately models the behaviour of vehicles in real-time, is well suited to the crazy machines that rock up to the Gambler. The engine takes into account factors like vehicle weight, suspension, tire grip, and collision dynamics. It also features environments that can be damaged, deformed, and modified realistically again, well suited to the Gambler, as is the strong modding community associated with the game.
Now BeamNG have introduced new vehicle configurations for players to reflect the aesthetic and engineering associated with the Gambler — this means you’ll find salvaged parts from bathrooms attached to an engine, with just enough space for a driver to squeeze in. You’ll also find trailers hastily welded to the back of vehicles, thick metal bumpers, four-wheel rear drive, half-tractor-half-something else, and the list goes on. Not only that, players have another gift — experienced gamers should be used to these perks by now, whether they are online casino bonuses, freebie games on Steam, or in this case, a brand new vehicle in the virtual garage.
Say hello to the Soliad Lansdale. Built on an updated LeGran/Wendover platform, the Lansdale can be equipped with all-wheel drive, I4, V6, and V8 engines, and modded into a backwoods-worrying off-road monster, perfect for the Gambler 500.
Not content with new vehicles, BeamNG have also added a new mission type, with 20 new missions to play. We mentioned the destructible environments, and players usually associate those with damage, crashing, and general carnage. But in keeping with the spirit of the Gambler 500, players must collect as much trash as they can as much as their vehicle can hold, that is.
And just as the Gambler is based on creativity, environmental awareness, and plain old fun, there is also, of course, a racing element you’re against the clock, and heavily hindered by your overstocked rally car/dump truck.
Gambler 500 community
The event is about more than just motoring. We’ve touched on the environmental clean-up aspect, but there is also a strong community which has grown up around the Gambler, attracting like-minded people with a passion for fun, outrageous engineering, exploration and adventure. You’ll find big parties at the end of each day’s driving, with music, costumes, booze, and food.
Not only that, but anyone is free to run a race under the Gambler 500 banner, as long as it meets these specifications, verbatim from the organiser’s website: “Don’t charge for it and make sure to pick up trash”, or in the words of one Gambler: “Don’t be a d**k”.
A unique and positive force in the world of rallying, the Gambler 500 has boomed in popularity over the last couple of years, with thousands of participants in the original event, and independent branches springing up nationwide. And thanks to the wonderful people at BeamNG, gamers can now share in and enjoy the action and chaos. And, hopefully, they might just be inspired to think about what they might be able to do with the waste found in their local area.
Read Next: Switch Not Connecting to TV: Fix it Now!