2019 Detroit Gambler 500
The Gambler 500 is a mostly off-road Rally-Style Navigational Adventure using cheap, impractical or fun vehicles. This past weekend we hit the road in our recently completed Baja Bug for Detroit, in order to join the fun at the 2019 Detroit Gambler 500. We had never been to the event before, but it was everything we were hoping for and more. About 500 vehicles participated in this years event (many pictured below), which began in a Walmart parking lot with a list of coordinates to visit in Detroit. We scrambled to hit all of this checkpoints, and quickly discovered that the torn up pavement of Detroit made for a compelling “off-road adventure” all their own. Below you can see our Baja Bug at the Detroit checkpoints, before we hit the road north for the main event.
From there, the Gamblers re-assembled at a soon-to-open off-road park at Groveland Oaks in Holly, Michigan. We were given a brief look at the park, but the real spectacle was to see all of the Gamblers gathered together in one area.
From there everyone split up to hit various off-road trail challenges that were on our checkpoint sheets before re-assembling once again to create Gamblertown, a massive camp site about 2.5 hours north of the city, near St. Helen, Michigan.
Watch our highlight video below for a little taste of one of the most unique events we’ve ever attended, the 2019 Detroit Gambler 500. This video is composed of about 2/3 of our own footage (including drone shots) and about 1/3 of this footage is collected from other Gamblers on the internet (THANKS!).
It had been a rainy week in Michigan, and as you can see it created for some challenging conditions for the Gamblers. You’ve never seen so many folks driving seemingly incapable vehicles inspired with such confidence to “SEND IT!” We sampled some of the Gamblers quickly in the beginning of that video, but you can check them out in the Photo Gallery below for a closer look at the creativity and detail that went into many of these rigs :
While we felt the Gambler spirit of the event, we drove from Maryland to participate, and our Baja Bug would need to to traverse 1500 miles in three days before we were returned safely to our homes. Accordingly we stuck to some of the easier trails on the list, which proved to be plenty of challenge for a 2000 Volkswagen Beetle with 4 inches of lift and 28″ BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires.
We had determined before the event that ground clearance would be more of a detriment for us than traction with our very capable BFG KO2 tires, so we never did air down, but most Gamblers with lesser tires would have been wise to do so. Catch our Baja Bug in action in this quick rally style video below :
Thanks to BFGoodrich Tires, Raptor Coatings, and Scepter for supporting our Baja Bug Build and trip to the Detroit Gambler 500. See our full build post for more detail about how those brands helped us make this silly idea a reality.