2018 Gambler 500 rally event passes through Lebanon for a beer

Eyebrows may have gone up when a bunch of beat-up, strange cars rolled through town this past weekend and made a pit stop downtown near Strawberry Plaza.
Conversion Brewing was a starting point this year for the Gambler 500, a mostly off-road rally-style “navigational adventure” using cheap, impractical or fun vehicles. The event originated in Oregon.
Participants stopped at the local brewery Friday, July 13, to acquire GPS points installed by Conversion owner Matt Cowart, and sample Conversion’s first-ever packaged brew, appropriately called “Gambler 500.”
“I got to be friends with Tate (Morgan), the organizer, last year and found out he’s a home brewer,” Cowart said.
Since Cowart was considering letting his business serve as a starting point for the event, he determined it would be fitting to make a special edition brew with Morgan. This meant it also would be necessary to package the beer for “Gamblers,” as they’re called, so they could take a four-pack with them.
Morgan helped make the first batch with him at Conversion Brewing, Cowart said. Three brews later, as many as 1,800 cans were packaged and ready for the 2018 Gambler 500 on Friday.
Although other breweries have made special edition brews for the annual event, Cowart believes this is the first time Morgan helped make one of them.
Morgan, an Oregonian, and his friends founded Gambler 500 in 2014 as a challenge to see how far a $500 car could go. Fourteen cars participated that first year, and the number doubled in 2015. In 2017, the number surged to 800 participating vehicles in Oregon, and independent regional events began across the U.S.
It’s not a race, but it is a competition.
Participants are given GPS coordinates at the start of the two-day event that encourages drivers to explore at least 500 miles of off-road driving.
At the end of Day One, participants gather at an overnight meeting location to swap stories and prepare for the last leg of the trip.
But there’s more to it than that, including a stress placed on environmental stewardship and philanthropy.
For more information, visit gambler500.com