The term rally can cover a wide range of motorsports, from high-roller exotic car events like the Gumball 3000 to heavily-regulated off-road competitions such as the World Rally Championship (WRC). The Gambler 500 can be considered a rally, but it’s far-removed from both these extremes — it’s not a race, and it certainly doesn’t require a million-dollar supercar to participate. Touted as “Cannonball Run crossed with Burning Man and the Thunderdome”, the Gambler 500 lives by the mantra that “fun > rules”.

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The Gambler 500 is a 500-mile mostly off-road adventure rally that travels through the public lands of Oregon. It’s free to enter, and participants are asked to start with a vehicle that cost $500 or less (although additional money can be spent on modifications). Other rules are minimal, and mostly consist of “don’t be a dick”. Each vehicle is loaded with food, water, camping gear, navigation and communications equipment, and spare parts for the inevitable breakdowns.

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The 2017 Gambler 500 was the biggest yet — and possibly the largest rally in the world — with 742 cars and trucks participating. Iain Harrison of RECOIL Magazine attended, teaming up with co-driver Dan Brokos and a camera crew for RECOILtv.

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Harrison’s vehicle was a particularly beat-up 1985 Toyota van, outfitted with OD green paint, a light bar, hacked-up wheel arches, and mud tires. The tires rubbed, the battery disconnected itself, and it rattled loudly the whole trip, but it completed the journey in one piece (well, mostly).

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Check out the 11-minute 2017 Gambler 500 recap video below from RECOILtv:

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