For better or worse, The Gumball Rally was the catalyst for a short-lived cycle of "illegal cross-country race" flicks. As thick-headed cop Roscoe (Norman Burton) does his best to stop the titular rally, a vast and varied contingent of contestants prepare to burn rubber from New York to California. The best-looking of the racers is played by top-billed Michael Sarrazin; Franco, a delightfully narcissistic Italian road jockey played by Raul Julia, also competes. Producer/director Chuck Bail was formerly a stunt coordinator, which helps to explain the incessant car crashes and near-misses in the film. Surprisingly, the doggedly low-budget Gumball Rally was produced by First Artists, a company formed by such major stars as Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, and Steve McQueen for the purpose of creating "prestige" film fare.
by Hal Erickson synopsis