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Gumball 3000

A Slovakian policeman stands next to the cars of Gumball 3000 rally competitors in front of The Carlton hotel on May 4, 2007, in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Tomas Hudcovic/isifa/Getty Images

Remember the Cannonball Run? No, not the old movie with Burt Reynolds, but the actual race. It was a cross-country car rally (full name: the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash) of dubious legality that ran from New York City to Redondo Beach, Calif., on four occasions between 1971 and 1979. The real Cannonball Run has faded into outlaw racing history, but the tradition it started is upheld today by the Gumball 3000, a high-end car rally that's been run annually between various locations since 1999.

How various? Well, the 2010 Gumball started in London, wound its way through much of Europe, and ended in New York City, which certainly qualifies it as unusual if not impossible. (The drivers and their cars were flown from Stockholm to Boston.) Other Gumballs have gone from New York to the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles and from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Cannes Film Festival in the south of France -- not a very long trip until you consider that the route crossed the Mediterranean and passed through North Africa on its way to the finish line.

Glamorous locations, expensive cars, outlaw racing -- and you can be a part of it for only 30,000 British pounds. You're probably pulling out your checkbook right now.

There are plenty more unusual auto races out there -- you just have to know where to look. Follow the links on the next page if you're still thirsty for more.

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