In this week’s all-new episode of Top Gear USA, the cast made a return trip to Alaska for the appropriately titled Alaskan Adventure. Their mission was to drive from Anchorage to Homer, along the Kenai Peninsula in DIY convertibles. The ultimate goal was to entice Alaskan residents with the prospect of enjoying the summer months topless…in their cars…with topless cars. They could be topless too but I don’t think that’s legal. Anyway, onwards with the review!
The troublemaking trio arrived at the Matanuska River’s beautiful shore to present their creations that were all born in 1999. Trust me – this almost never, ever happens. Rutledge Wood created what my sister calls The Flying Nun from a Jeep Cherokee Classic. Adam Ferrara surprised everybody with a Toyota Tacoma; while Tanner Foust was last to arrive with a raggedy ragtop Chevy Express Limited SE. I was personally happy to see that a Toyota had been included, although it was a light-duty pick-up truck unlike the mighty Hi Lux (Conqueror of Poles: both arctic and pot). Also Tanner Foust wasn’t in a Ford but his choice of a rear wheel drive was not smart at all. Along the road to Homer, they would stop to complete challenges that would push their vehicles to the boundaries of their capabilities, and the presenters to the boundaries of common sense.
“You drive everything like Ted Kennedy.” – Adam Ferrara
The first impromptu challenge was to see which top could be opened the fastest. Rutledge’s van would have benefitted from a hydraulic system, while I’m not entirely sure what exactly powered the incredibly noisy, mechanical retraction of Tanner’s canvas roof. This was a far cry from the beautiful McLaren MP4-12C Spyder he drove in the previous episode, Coast to Coast. Adam’s little Tacoma had a dangerous but truly brilliant modification that left the other guys stunned. The dangerous part is the fact that every time he opened the roof, his life was endangered…but only slightly because this is Top Gear. Nobody actually gets hurt from equipment used in the gag, except of course for: altitude sickness, motion sickness, hypothermia and the occasional concussion. Besides that, everybody’s in good nick! It was also obvious that Rutledge Wood has lost a considerable amount of weight. He not only looks slim but shows increased confidence with his new fitness level. He still has a way to go but it won’t be long before he starts taking his shirt off like other cast members.
Phew, what was I saying again? Oh, and you could see Adam Ferrara in varying levels of nakedness on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. They went on and on about the three wrecks they were driving. It only seemed as though Adam’s Taco was the best of the three; but with a rattle that sounded like an enraged washing machine, choosing his blue (blurple?) little number was more like picking where you wanted to get a gunshot: arm, leg or butt-cheek.
At the Alaska Raceway Park, they determined which vehicle could go the fastest, while the top was being put up. It was definitely one of the most ridiculous segments this show has ever produced. Apart from the cheating and salty insults, Tanner did something so incredibly, mind-numbingly dumb and dangerous that even Petter Solberg must have been somewhere saying, “Dude…” However, credit to the Top Gear production team for making sure that he didn’t die, although his windshield was being held together with nothing but denial.
“It’s a scratch. (Adam: A scratch? It’s cracked) It started out as a rock chip. It just grew in the heat.” – Tanner Foust
Their next stop was a quarry near Summit Lake to test their concept vehicles’ ability to thrash around off-road, and boy were they thrashed! It was fun to watch and honestly, something that I look forward to trying myself. Get an old beater off Craigslist for a few hundred bucks and then beat the heck out of it in an unused area. Sounds like a good time to me! Here’s a behind-the-scenes video from History Channel and you’ll see ace cameraman Dan de Castro make a quick appearance. His Twitter timeline is always full of cool photos and cheeky comments.
It wouldn’t have been a trip to Alaska without a camping scene, but at this point I noticed something about Rutledge Wood. When it comes on to pranks – he is always involved. In Big Rigs, he happily turned against Adam, after helping him destroy Tanner’s phone, watch and sunglasses. Then in this episode, he encouraged Tanner to prank Adam, the day after he helped Adam to prank Tanner. That “aw shucks” persona is a sham, people! This dude is diabolical, but usually ends up covered in gross stuff like poo, so I guess it evens out in the long run. Still, I see you, Rut – the bearded god of mischief.
“I didn’t act like this before I met you guys.” – Rutledge “Guns Out” Wood
After a scenic drive along the Seward Highway, they arrived at the place where their vehicles would be face up against a fire helicopter, dropping 220 gallons of water on each of their vehicles. Two of the hosts drove on towards the finish point, because one of them won the challenge and the other “raced” away. Ultimately they all took very different routes to get to the end of the highway and the episode. It’s hard not to compare this to America’s Toughest Trucks. However, they were almost completely different. The guys didn’t have to rough it, and stayed on paved roads for most of the journey. The episode was also filmed in summer, so they didn’t have to deal with harsh elements, except for the 20 hours of daily sunshine. They’ve also been through a lot together since season one in 2010, so they knew how far to push each other and what they could get away with. I really enjoyed this Alaskan Adventure but the previous one is easily, one of the best they’ve ever made.
“We’re having such a good time, we forget this is going to be on TV; and then when we see the stupid sh*t we do – we’re like, oh wait a minute, everyone’s going to see that!” – Adam Ferrara (My Life at Speed Interview)
They also confirmed Alaska’s spot on our list of places to see before we die. There was stunning scenery in every direction and every single shot was beautiful, even when they were chatting around the campfire. All we needed was smell-o-vision to complete the experience. Thanks to Adam and Rutledge for live-tweeting the episode again; and all three for posting potentially embarrassing pictures. Well done, lads! Also my thanks and apologies go to all the folks who played my Top Gear Drinking Game. The point is to be sober by the end and my goal was to get you all poop-faced – or not, since I play it with tea. Next week’s episode takes them to the renowned DirtFish Rally School for fun in the forest with rally cars. Find out what the boys had to say about that in my interview with them for My Life At Speed.