So many drivers in the goldRush Rally currently tearing through the continental U.S. feel the same way about the weeklong excursion: It’s summer camp for adults. “When you’re a kid, you look forward to going to camp all year long,” says Scott Oshry, a Los Angeles native who now lives in Jersey City. He’s run in this rally all of its seven years. “There’s adventure and new experiences, and you share it all with friends you become closer to during those few days each summer. That sense of community and togetherness is rare in adulthood.”
This rolling summer camp is a little more expensive than a week at Camp North Star (of “Meatballs” fame). A two-person team pays $18,000 per car for the eight-day trip from San Diego, California, to Miami, Florida. For that chunk of cash, you get hotel accommodations, entrance to several racetracks along the way, transportation for you and your car from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Austin, Texas, where the second leg of the rally begins, and VIP treatment at swanky nightclubs at each of the eight major city stops — including bottle service, of course.
The rally is open to all makes and models, but competitors fit mostly in the luxury, sports, classic, exotic car bracket, meaning most are worth hundreds of thousands and sometimes even millions of dollars each. Drivers cover about 500 miles a day over eight hours, and navigators are responsible for directions, communication with organizers and other vehicles, photos and, naturally, social network updates. The route is different every year, meaning the scenery is always changing; in 2014 the rally passed through Park City, Utah, where teams tiptoed over snow on the roads.
“The small towns we pass through, meeting locals, eating in hole-in-the-wall restaurants – all are heart-warming experiences,” says Jovian Yoh of Medford, New Jersey, who drives a heavily modified 2009 Corvette ZR1. “And I’m sure they don’t get to see a bunch of crazy, wrapped cars and super high-end sports cars in their small towns either.”
Here are our picks of the hottest cars at the goldRush Rally 7. Every single car was a showstopper, each a chance for the owner to share his or her flashy side, covered with so much dazzling gold it would make King Midas blush.
1. Pagani Huayra 730 S
Sleek and reptilian with blue and gold carbon-fiber scales, this answers the question: What does a $1.3 million car look like? Celebrity status was achieved by this Huayra, which had a difficult time getting through the pack of admirers as soon as it arrived at the starting point.
2. 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder
There were two Porsche 918 supercars in the fleet, and both are all show and all go. The mid-engine V-8 hybrid with two AC synchronous motors, one for each axle, boasts a combined 887 horsepower. Trimmed with tasteful white and gold accents, this Porsche finally makes sense of matte-black paint jobs; when you add contrasting flourishes, the flat, dull black adds depth instead of looking like the car’s only wearing primer.
3. 2014 Lamborghini Aventador Roadster
Heading up Team Salamone is divorce attorney Bryan Salamone, and his crew has several cars in the goldRush. Salamone himself drives the all-chrome 690-hp Lamborghini Aventador Roadster. The New York license plate reads WINNING. His female co-pilot? He calls the suggestively attired blonde Concubine. Salamone embodies the over-the-top party aspect of goldRush, with gold-spike-covered shoes, slicked-back hair, and shirt unbuttoned to mid-torso. Both Salamone and his leading Aventador with neon green rally transfer decals could star in their own movie. We’d call the obvious blockbuster “Winning.”
4. 1992 Bugatti EB110 SS
Only 30 or so Super Sport versions of the EB110 were made back in 1993, and the stunning white model looks brand-new, even next to the five Bugatti Veyrons running in the rally. The 603-horsepower, 3.5-liter quad-turbo V-12 makes a sound that hums right up your spine, but in a good way. It may not be as flashy as some of the other entrants, but it’s certainly among the rarest cars to drive from San Diego to Miami in a little more than a week.
5. 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Driver Jovian Yoh and his copilot Sheena Monk brought a heavily modified ZR1 in gold camouflage wrap to the party from New Jersey. This is their third year at goldRush, and Yoh chose the Corvette from his stable of 27 cars because, he says, the American car is “fast, competitive with the hypercars on the rally, while remaining safe and reliable.” Yoh’s fiancé is not just along to navigate the course. She takes the wheel as well, Yoh says. “She’s fearless, drives fast, can handle the power, and can drive stick.”
6. 2004 Saleen S7
From nearly every angle, this 7.0-liter, V-8 Team Chicago Motor Cars Saleen looks like a fast and ferocious shark, designed wide and low with fins before the front wheels and inset behind the driver and passenger doors. The 700-horsepower S7 is the only Saleen not based on an existing chassis, and though it can be compared to an ocean-dwelling predator, its design is like no other car on the road.
7. Ford GT40 Belladonna
This one-off special was flown to San Diego from Japan just for this rally, from a company called Belladonna Car Works, which created as close to a brand-new car from a GT40 as possible. The width of the already wide GT40 has spread another foot or so, the horsepower is boosted by 100 over the original to 680. Steve Feldman from Los Angeles is the pilot for this black beauty, which sports custom mag wheels, custom exhaust, and an interior reminiscent of a multi-million-dollar jet.
8. Pagani Huayra
The only time you’re likely ever see two Pagani Huayras in the same place would be at their birthplace of Modena, Italy — except at the luxe goldRush Rally, where two of the mid-engine, hand-built V-12s could be found. Both carbon-fiber dream machines feature a 6.0-liter, twin-turbo Mercedes AMG engine that boasts about 720 horsepower, but the slick, stealth-fighter jet’s looks will blow you away before the engine ever comes to life.