Here we are at the Top Gear USA season finale: Appalachian Trail. Although this isn’t the longest road trip we’ve seen on this show, it was definitely memorable for the wacky stunts. Their mission was to drive the Appalachian Trail’s length from Maine to Georgia in only twenty-four hours. Their budget was USD $5k and their choices were non-surprisingly exactly suited to their personalities. Rutledge Wood brought a 2003 Mercedes CL500, which I get because if you’re going to drive over 2,000 miles, then booty comfort should be a priority. Adam Ferrara tried to combine power and luxury with a supercharged Jaguar XJ Series XJR; while Tanner came prepared for an off-road challenge, although this wasn’t supposed to be one, with a 2002 Mitsubishi Montero. Bring on the short cuts, people!
“Fourteen states: that’s not a trail. That’s a coastline.” – Adam Ferrara
After racing to the pavement because they never do anything normally, they started the journey and realized some kind of strategy was needed. However it’s not just about getting to the finish line but getting to the finish line first! I particularly enjoyed a moment when Adam used his New York-ness to deal with an oncoming driver which convinced he’s a Trini but just doesn’t know it yet. He can already do a pretty decent Jamaican accent. I say he starts work on a sweeter Caribbean sound, and I’ve already started with the lessons. (Ha ha!) The trio was doing well but then suddenly there was a mountain. For our entertainment, they dealt with the obstacle in different ways. Adam’s method reminded me of a scene from the James Bond film, Moonraker, which was its own special brand of crazy too.
It wasn’t long before they reunited on government asphalt but not for long, as Tanner led them off-road into one of his famous shortcuts where they encountered another familiar obstacle – cows. Seriously though, if you haven’t seen the Texas episode, find a way and you’ll thank me. Rutledge had a daring way to go to the loo while on the go and save on fuel mileage too. It’s rather funny how often washroom activities are often a plot point on this show, but then again they’re guys so basically twelve year olds. Speaking of fuel, eventually they had to stop and Tanner discovered a flat tyre on his SUV. Without proper tools and help from his friends, who wouldn’t have helped him even if they could, he found a pretty insane solution. I can tell you that despite what happens on Top Gear, Tanner isn’t a madman…maybe.
“Yeah I’m calling about the car for sale. How much do you want?” – Tanner Foust
Fatigue set in as night fell and the boys started getting car cabin fever. If this weirdness is what History deemed acceptable family viewing then I would love to see the uncut version. Seriously, I won’t tell anybody – pinkie promise. Before any catastrophic events, the producers cleverly found ways to keep the cars moving while the presenters got to sleep. Although the train was crawling along, remember that Adam and Rutledge aren’t professional stunt drivers. That’s why Tanner was chasing the train instead of driving onto it.
We were almost on the homestretch by now and finally got some spontaneous goofiness, when Tanner stopped to cool off his overheating engine. I wonder if the Montero smelled like chocolate for the rest of the trip. Well at least it wasn’t donkey meat. (#NeverForget) Now came the show’s last major gag which was a glorious ode to Rutledge’s day job because if you have to take a pit stop – then take a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pit stop! Clint Bowyer’s pit crew got Rut back on the road in record time while the other guys looked on in amazement and jealousy. I particularly enjoyed the pit crew waving mockingly as Adam and Tanner left the gas station. Can we also recognise the good acting by those two as the Michael Waltrip Racing guys were doing their thing? Improved performances by non-actors are making it harder to tell what’s planned. Not impossible but harder.
“Now that’s how you make a pit stop, right there. Right?” – Rutledge Wood
There was a mad dash to the end which split as Tanner went off-road. What can I say? The dude enjoys pelting through forested areas at top speed. Simultaneously Adam caught up with Rutledge and that road must have been closed for them to race like that. Of course as these things go, they all arrived at the finish line. Lies were told. Egos were crushed. Hearts were broken and another chapter of Top Gear USA has come to an end. Feel free to relive the entire season as all the episodes are available on iTunes and Amazon. My heartfelt thanks to the cast and fan family. Cheers to you all and here’s hoping for more adventures in 2015!