Old cars, new technology combine in Okanagan for first Canadian Gambler 500 - InfoNews

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Old cars, new technology combine in Okanagan for first Canadian Gambler 500

Drivers in vehicles that cost less than $500 are invited to compete in a GPS challenge called the B.C. Gambler 500 in Penticton this spring.
Image Credit: Submitted
February 01, 2018 - 7:30 PM

A Lake Country man is bringing a new kind of driving challenge to Canada for the first time.

Last year Mike Conklin and his son traveled to Oregon in his lifted 1986 Chrysler Fifth Avenue to be part of a new type of race – except it’s not really a race.

“It’s a GPS challenge,” Conklin says. “Groups of guys got together with a bunch of beater cars that they didn’t pay more than $500 for, come up with a bunch of GPS waypoints through bush roads with an overnight campout in the middle of it all. The idea is that it’s $500 cars over 500 miles over two days.”

He enjoyed it so much he decided to organize one in the Okanagan.

The Gambler 500 requires drivers of street legal vehicles to obey traffic laws while going as quickly as possible from one GPS location to the next.

Image Credit: Submitted

Like the Oregon event, Conklin is organizing an overnight campout in the middle of two days of driving.

The vehicles people choose to modify are a big part of the attraction.

“We’ve got a guy with a ’55 Packard that sits on a Ford 4x4 chassis with a 460 four speed in it so it’s far from stock. The guy is a fabricator, so he’s only got $500 in that car.”

He says roughly 1,000 people have expressed interested and 100 say they’re coming.

“A group from Washington State is coming up for sure. They run the Washington Gambler,” he says.

The first ever B.C. Gambler 500 on May 26 and May 27 starts and finishes at the Penticton Speedway with a campout near Coalmont.

“We keep the course a secret,” Conklin says. “It’s a combination of bush roads, highway and secondary roads. We try to showcase our area. We’ve got some cool features to show off.”

Although a winner is chosen, to keep drivers from pushing their limits too much, it goes to whoever comes in fifth place. A trophy is also given to the driver who most helped others complete the challenge.

“We also try to acknowledge the people who clean up trail trash they find. A big component of this is to leave the backcountry cleaner than we found it.”

For more information visit the B.C. Gambler 500 Facebook page.


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