what we do
The Dumball is a non profit organisation founded in 2006 by a bunch of likeminded individuals who wanted to spend a week testing their limits of endurance whilst sampling amazing new places.
The first ever Dumball saw a convoy of 6 sub £300 cars drive from Amsterdam to Athens, stopping at major cities in 11 different countries along the way. The cars were crap, the journey was tough, but that meant that serving at each destination caused for a celebration. We grew closer as friends - and we were instantly hooked.
In 2007 we asked the public to join us and partnered with the Teenage Cancer Trust. We were joined by 17 teams including a young man called Adam Horn: who would change the Dumball forever. Adam’s leg was amputated because of Cancer - but that didn’t stop him. He joined us as we drove to Istanbul and loved every minute. He was due to join us in 2008: but sadly he passed away.
Every year since, his father Colin Horn has joined us on the rally - an event that is now dedicated to the memory of Adam. Over the last 15 years we have travelled the globe looking for the toughest challenges. From sourcing old Morris Minor style ‘Ambassadors’ in India to clapped our Beetles in Mexico: we’ve been pushing our participants to dare to explore the world from a new perspective with every event. The Dumball is not for the faint hearted: you need to be mentally tough, open to meeting new people, and ready to be tested and challenged with long hours at the wheel and situations that will require all your problem solving abilities. Oh, and we want you to raise as much cash as possible for the TCT. If this is you then read on: because you’re going to love the Dumball.
what makes dumball different
There are always imitators – naturally. But we are the original fancy dress banger rally – and leagues ahead of the others. Unlike every other banger rally out there, we help you out as much as we can. You get accommodation arranged and included, as well as slap up meals, ceremonies and parties. On the road, instead of going off on our own, we stick together – an unbreakable team of show-off morons. So we can stick together, we split the cars into groups which we quite grandly call ‘squadrons’ – who communicate via shortwave radio. Oh yes Bosshog! Each squadron weaves their way to our daily destination, spreading magic, madness and mayhem as they go. And the best bit – we don’t make a profit – so it’s as cheap as is humanly possible!
Your fee includes all ferries, accomodation group parties, an awards ceremony and when you arrive at the dumball meeting point, you’ll be given a bag full of stuff. Dogtags (so we can identify you) a driver’s manual, cool t-shirts to wear and most importantly your short wave radio which will be tuned to speak to other members of your squadron. The Radios are great fun, and chatting away to the other members of your squadron will keep you sane as we hot-foot it across a continent (well almost). Great games to play over the radios include ‘name that tune’ (best if you have an iPod) and the hours will fly by with a game of ‘guess what number I’m thinking of’…
if it goes wrong, blame reality
First, let’s get one thing straight: THE DUMBALL IS NOT A HOLIDAY. It’s a challenge, just like any other that’s undertaken for charity. We can’t promise you won’t breakdown everyday, sit for hours waiting for help, encounter werid locals or dodgy cops – but we can guarantee a collection of anecdotes you’ll be telling the grandkids.
It’s all about taking a step back and taking great pleasure in the madness you have immersed yourself in. Always bear in mind that if nothing goes wrong, something has gone wrong. Be ready for failure – and rejoice in it when it inevitably happens. The fun really starts when you breakdown, get lost, or suffer amazingly tedious set backs.
Can you have a good time even after 19 hours sat at a Russian border crossing? We held the biggest “car park party” the Ruskis had ever seen. If this sounds like your bag – then the dumball is for you. If you dig extremities, and prove you can be heroic under duress, you never know, you might even end up with the prize everyone is vying for: ‘The Spirit of Dumball Award’ – a monkey carved out of a coconut.
2006 – Amsterdam to Athens After coming up with the idea during a booze run to France, Rick put it to his friend Nick: Why don’t we buy a crap car and drive it as far as we can, with a load of our mates…in convoy? We can stop at a city every night and paint the town red, how good would that be? Eh? What do you reckon? On 26th May 2006, a group of friends cobbled together a few cars and set off for Athens not quite knowing if they’d make it. They did. Thank God. They camped, stayed in hostels, and generally busked their way to Athens, meeting a lot of amused locals and drinking a lot of beer along the way. On arrival in Athens, Rick and Nick realised they had something very special on their hands.
2007 – Dumball Rally 2: The Road to Istanbul In 2007, the rally went ‘big time’. Rick and Nick sat in Dumball HQ working out ways to make the experience better. Firstly, it was decided to raise money for charity, and the chosen charity was to be the Teenage Cancer Trust. With a link to the event on the TCT website, the teams came flooding in.From Arabs and bandits to the Queen, – 75 people in 25 cars met in Brussels destined for Asia. The convoy partied its way across Europe, with some truly memorable days driving – across the Carpathian mountains in Transylvania and some unforgettable nights…well actually, we can’t remember those.
2008 – Dumball: Mission Corfu In 2008, the rally got bigger again. 100 people met at the starting point in Brussels: all in dazzling fancy dress: it really was a site to behold – and oh, so many hearses! We made national television in Albania, where the streets were lined with waving families: and most importantly, only two cars were lost before we go to Corfu. Now that’s a Dumball…
2009 – Highway to Hel (sinki) In 2009 the Dumball summoned all the energy it had created in the preceding years and decided to tackle a Dumball dream. Helsinki may have been the final destination for this year’s Dumball, but we all knew what was really going on: we were headed for mother Russia . And what a fruity lady she proved to be.
2010 – The Godfather In 2010 we were bound for Sicily – via some of our favourite roads (the long way round). The dumball was back in Eastern Europe and boy did it feel good, if only the Kosovans had finished building their road network, we might have finished with more vehicles in tact. Sicily set the standard for our closing parties – a truly epic night on the coast, with music, dancing, and plenty of prosecco.
2012 – Back to Black… Game for more laughs, after a fallow year the dumball was bound for Odessa: the Ukraine’s party paradise on the Black Sea. It was the toughest dumball, but by far the biggest and, some would dare to say, best yet. From Bulgarian mountain ranges, to Moldova (need we say more) it was full on dumball once again.
2014 – Moroc N Roll… Moroc ‘n’ roll was the biggest and boldest rally yet, as we took 30 bangers all the way to Africa, stopping in Fes, Marrakech and camping in the desert, before heading back to the comfort of Southern Spain, finishing in the resort of Malaga.
2016 – It’s a Goa.. Where do we begin? Check out our blog for details of our last unbelievable rally. It was so good…we decided we should go back and see the other half of this continent country that with its crazy people, crazy roads, and beautiful scenery feels like it's made for dumball.
2017 – Jeep Desert Adventure.. In 2017 140 of us hit the Indian desert in clapped out jeeps - drove down through Northern India and this time ended up in Goa... Freak rain didn't stop the dumballers causing havoc- not least a riot at a Dominos pizza restaurant. That was weird...
2018 – Nothing Compares to EU In 2018 the dumball is making a long awaited return to Europe for a Brexit themed farewell. And what a route: combining two all time dumball classics, a record number of people (150 in 50 cars!) are swooping over the alps and into Eastern Europe, bound for Corfu. Check out our blog for the story in full!
2020 – Loco in Apapulco In 2020 the dumball went Latin American. Amazing roads, amazing beaches, amazing fiestas....really, really unreliable Beetles! It was the toughest Dumball ever...but by far the most rewarding too.
what for? a monkey… carved from a coconut
We don’t need to explain the reward of driving across the entire continent whilst raising money for a good cause. But don’t forget it’s a competition. It’s all about showing off – getting noticed, and becoming legendary amongst your fellow dumballers. The winner gets the heralded monkey – bought for three euros on the first ever dumball, and passed from winner to winner ever since…
the spirit of dumball monkey
This is the highest honour one can receive. It is given to the group who show the most passion, courage and madness along the way. It’s made out of a coconut and mounted on rich mahogany. Mmmmmmmm – you can almost smell it. You know you want it. (If you are still not sure, watch this video)
the ben crean prize for peace
This award is given to the person who displays the most willing to improve “inter-continental relations”, named after the man who made this award his own.
the shitty shitty bang bang shield
This is given to the first person to lose their car. Don’t let it be you…on second thoughts – go on, let it be you.
the blind bat
For the car that gets hopelessly lost time and time again. The creation of this award gets more creative every year. Once the award was simply a cricket bat. Because it doesn't need to make any sense.
the dame edna award
Given to the team who dresses up the best, and maintains the level throughout the week. This is what we do.
the adam horn bling bling trophy
Awarded to the coolest dumballer of the trip…Named after the late great dumballer Adam Horn himself. Are you too cool for school? Wicked a wicked a whack. (or something like that).
the tin westwood
Given to the car with the best paint job. Awarded at the start of the rally, and worn with pride throughout. The baseball cap is blessed by Mr Westwood before it leaves the UK.