Prognoza za Beograd, Srbija

Gumball 2006 - Serbia


 My 'Country Ratings' of the police are:

French - polite and no hassles

Belgian - polite, no hassles and (unlike last year) a sense of humour

German - utterly humourless and one checkpoint downright rude and threatening.

Austrian - as funny as Belsen and pathetically determined to catch Gumballers at 1kmph over the limit while ignoring non-G3K idiots doing 200+.

Hungarian - no hassles

Serbian - insane and good humoured - wanted us to go faster!

So please Max: avoid Europe! It is getting bloody boring as well.

Balkan Express
Car 100 - 2006

Team 100:
Mark Muss, British
Matthew Seamus Conlan, British
2001 Porsche Boxster 986 S


kroz Srbiju ...
(ko prevede sa Engleskog na Srpski neka se javi)

We reached the border and were amazed to be waved through at both the Hungarian section, and by the Serbs. Normally this could take up to an hour.

Advising Mussy to take it easy we headed onto the main road to Belgrade. As we approached a regular speed-trap location I told him to slow to 80kmph. Sure enough, there were the police and a gaggle of fans. What I wasn’t expecting was police reaction to us: they desperately waved to us to speed up! So Mussy applied some ‘gas’ and we were soon belting along at 200. “This cannot last” was my thought as we had the same reaction at the 2nd police checkpoint a few km later, and I thought I was correct when approaching the 3rd police trap at 200 the laser alarms and jammers exploded into life.

Mussy slammed on the brakes to take us out of ‘license losing’ territory and then switched off the jammers. Still too fast I thought as the police indicated us to pull over. “You were only doing 130! You must speed up!” was what the police said to a stunned Mussy. So to the policeman’s delight we put on our flashing lights and sirens and pulled away as fast as we could. It seemed the Serbs were the opposite of the Germans and Austrians!

From a previous job, I know the road to Belgrade like the back of my hand, and was able to tell Mussy when to go slow; the road is in a very poor condition in places. One such place was a flyover near Novi Sad. The camber changes on the top and tries to fling an unsuspecting driver to the right. We slowed to about 60mph and still got a wobble. We later found out that the Rolls Royce Phantom was not so lucky and tried taking the bend at full speed. It was wiped out, having spun and destroyed both ends of the car and had a small fire. Luckily no-one was hurt. Worse news was that the car, under 8 weeks old, only had third party insurance in Serbia. Ouch!

As we approached Belgrade we started to see the crowds grow, with all the bridges being lined with flag waving fans. As we approached the city centre the traffic was mad: everyone was flashing us and honking their horns. The problem was that the city centre was obviously gridlocked, and we were moving nowhere. “In for a penny, in for a pound” Mussy quoted aloud as we applied the lights and sirens in the city centre and drove in the opposite lane of the road. As we reached the top we had amazed police staring at us: two bald guys in a Porsche with sirens and flashing lights going, driving down the wrong side of the main road into town. As we went around the corner, we saw the problem: at least 30,000 people crammed into the small city centre. The final few hundred metres were dangerous and slow as the people were crammed so tightly against us even sardines would have commented.

Eventually we were able to park and get out the car – though opening the door was difficult due to the crush of people. Mussy learnt a valuable lesson: do not give out freebies: everyone wants one! It almost caused a riot as people tried getting hold of our stickers and cards. Lesson learnt we made our way into the City Hall for lunch. We were in the top 10 and almost at the end of our European leg. The crowd was mad: so many people, but really good natured: Belgrade was fantastic, and many Gumballers were heard saying that they wished they were staying in Belgrade for the night before flying to Thailand.

I was happy as I met a friend stationed as a diplomat in Belgrade and he brought his Communications Officer with him: a stunning lass and former model in NY who promised to bring her friends to a party later that evening. Several Gumballers fell in love with her and wanted her to fly with them on the next leg!

There was then a terrifying run to the airport to load all the cars doing the US and Thai stages onto the transport planes. There were many ‘street racer’ types in battered old Saabs and motorbikes who wanted to race us to the airport. There were accidents and some injuries as these people sadly failed to realise that the Gumball is not about short little sprints and racing: it is about surefooted, sustained high quality driving and great parties. Mussy had his revenge on me (for scaring him in the rain the previous day). We exited the city extremely quickly (as I know the city well) and after a few hair-raising minutes we were at the airport. Most amazing point of the journey was when a pillion on a motorbike swivelled in his seat (almost falling off in front of us in the process) to get a better view. Truly insane!

At the airport there was more mayhem (including a crash of a few ‘wannabe’ cars on the approach road, but we were there, and for us, the European leg of Gumball was over.