The wild boys of Top Gear USA are back and kicked off the show’s fourth season with a 3,000 mile Coast to Coast race/road-trip/scavenger hunt from New York to Venice Beach, CA in supercars! From the very start, the show’s opening features scenes from more recent shows and represent the series much better than in the past. They are as follows:
- Tanner Foust sliding a 2013 Bentley Continental GT in Minnesota Ice Driving
- Rutledge Wood risking life and limb in a 1965 Peel Trident in Small Cars
- Adam Ferrara doing what he does best – wrecking his ode to the Flatiron Building on wheels in RV’s
To be fair, I think it was ‘Mad’ Max Papis who turned Adam in that race. However, it was a spectacular crash and thankfully Adam wasn’t injured. The episode began with the trio being flown to the starting point at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport in New York City by helicopter. The cars were waiting for them there.
Movie fans may recognize this location from The Thomas Crown Affair. Rutledge went the Italian route again with a Lamborghini Gallardo LP-574 Super Trofeo Stradale. Tanner drove one of my all-time favourite supercars: the McLaren MP4-12C Spyder. While Adam kept it patriotic with the homegrown SRT Viper. At this point, I would have gladly put two bits on the McLaren (Sorry, Lamborghini!) but my goodness, the SRT Viper is an incredibly sexy-looking car. With curves based on Halle Berry’s hips that don’t lie, this car was just plain gorgeous. Whatever technological advantage the McLaren may have is overwhelmed by the Viper’s raw hotness.
“The worst part about driving in New York City? Everyone in New York City drives like Adam. I know…it sounds terrible when you think about it like that.” – Rutledge Wood
In this episode, the guys were faced with scavenger hunt-styled challenges. The ultimate loser was to pay the fuel bill for all three cars. Their first scheduled destination was the predominantly Amish countryside of Pennsylvania, where they had to acquire an authentic Amish hat. Here’s an attaboy to Rutledge for surviving the mean streets of New York, in a Lamborghini – without damaging the car or his oesophagus. I wonder if his svelte, new physique was a factor.
Outside of New York, they pulled into a small airstrip for an “unofficial race” while we collectively all took a shot for the Top Gear USA Drinking Game that I’ve been trying to start for months now. Seriously, would it have been a supercar episode without racing those beasts in a safe environment? No, now chug your tea or vodka and wallow in the sexy supercar footage. To be unfair, remember in Taxis, Tanner faced off against NASCAR’s Carl Edwards Gen 5 stock car with a McLaren MP4-12C. He sure does know how to work those vortices to his advantage.
Once in Pennsylvania, they set off in three different directions and implemented entirely different methods of getting the wholesome headwear. It was during this segment that we saw one of the best things about that orange McLaren – the folding roof. You don’t have to be into cars, to be impressed by how quickly the roof seamlessly folds and neatly stores itself away with just the push of a button. Even by Amish standards, that was cool. Also, props go to Tanner for not making a big deal about it. (Stay classy, Mr. T.) If you want to know what didn’t make it into the broadcast from this challenge, check out my interview with the cast for My Life at Speed. Yes, I take full responsibility for publicizing #TeamIntercourse. No, there is no cheque in the mail…but I’m not opposed to it. Gift cards are also acceptable.
They had to stop overnight and apparently took a cue from An Idiot Abroad because they stayed at the ickiest, nastiest, grungiest, yuckiest, skankiest, germ-infested, no-tell motel in the state of Illinois. We were asked to abandon our common sense when one of the presenters slept with a chain around his foot that was tied to the supercar outside. Not a locked chain but a tied one. Tied around his foot!
The rains in Missouri beat down upon our lovely hooligans and their next task was delivered by text message. Each of them had to take a photo of their car on the fifty yard line, of the biggest football stadium to be found. Adam was beside himself because in case you didn’t know, this dude really loves football. It’s time to believe that anybody could just drive their car into a football stadium and onto the field, without getting blocked by security – twice. At Hayes Hamburger and Chili, the gents reunited to discern the winner…and make the single guy run for his life with relationship talk. One of the cooler aspects of this show is that it’s so easy to drive across state lines, that the challenge actually took place in Missouri and Kansas simultaneously. God bless America!
“Unless the wheels fall off that thing right now, it is the most impressive supercar I’ve ever driven.” – Tanner Foust
Onwards to Colorado and the cast arrived at a familiar location from Season Two: the Rocky Moutains. This time they weren’t crossing over the Continental Divide. They were going to pass through it via the Eisenhower Tunnel. Going at speed in an enclosed space is an intensely frightening experience. Just think of the Maelstrom ride at Epcot, where there’s no real speed to speak of, but the feeling of being surrounded makes it much scarier than it actually is. Now imagine that feeling when you’re actually going over 100mph. Police closed the tunnel for the guys to set the fastest individual times, without putting the innocent public at risk. Rutledge wisely began and ended his run with prayer. Tanner swore so much, it reminded me of that time they electrocuted his face. Seriously, when a world-record holding Team Hot Wheels driver gets freaked out by a car stunt – stuff just got real. Adam’s high-pitched giggles made me nervous because quite frankly, he’s the most dangerous driver out of the three. They’ve done some dumb stuff on this show, but this was one time when so many things could have gone wrong and didn’t. It was brilliantly executed and the team should be getting some tasty, baked goods, at the very least.
“It’s loud. The suspension is really stiff. It’s not really that comfortable. It’s horrendous on gas but…it’s a Viper!” – Adam Ferrara
Their final challenge was to bring the photo of a celebrity in their car, to the finish at Venice Beach or fail the entire mission. While Rutledge and Tanner sped off in search of a willing participant – Adam turned to his cell phone’s contact list. Although fail is a four-letter f-word for these guys, two of them surprisingly failed with flying colours. The lone victor didn’t just get a celebrity’s photo but brought the incredibly large man to the beach too! This left the other two presenters “broken” and “punished” but not “expendable” because hey, somebody had to buy the drinks.
Top Gear’s season premiere was thrilling and fun. The presenters demonstrated easy onscreen presence and the production values were quite high; although the orchestral soundtrack sounded quite familiar (Police Cars?). As usual, they expected us to abandon our intellect occasionally, but that’s acceptable because this isn’t comedy show with cars, pretending to be a serious documentary about cars. This is a comedy show with cars being a comedy show with cars. We are so ready for this. Bring it on Top Gear!
Special thanks to Adam Ferrara and Rutledge Wood for live-tweeting with viewers during the premiere on both coasts. It always adds to the overall experiences and gives us a chance to connect with them. Even the super-busy Tanner Foust, who was travelling from France, responded to tweets the next day. Next week’s episode sees a return trip to Alaska with convertibles of their own design. Yes, because when you think of Alaska, a home-made convertible is “exactly” what you want to be driving. Here’s a little taste of some behind-the-scenes goodness from History Channel: