Review of Top Gear on History’s The Tractor Challenge

Review of Top Gear on History’s The Tractor Challenge

In their quest to explore all manners of motor vehicles, Top Gear on History has gone beyond cars and focused on off-road vehicles, pick-up trucks, monster trucks and big rigs.  This week, they featured a type of working vehicle that is vitally important to the country: tractors.  Not the little ones that put-put around small outfits run by gentleman farmers, but the huge kind that haul tonnes of produce, waste, workers and livestock, etc.  Naturally there was a competition to decide who had the best tractor.  Okay, not really.  It was less about the tractors and more about the hooligans behind the wheels of these monstrous machines, on a farm near Fresno, California.  Rutledge Wood’s Case International Harvester 315 Magnum which he called “the GT2RS of tractors” rumbled in.  Then Adam Ferrara’s John Deere 9530T thundered into frame.  The last to be revealed was Tanner Foust’s Caterpillar Challenger MT945B and it was huge!  I know this because I’ve actually stood next to a combine and the tyres were bigger than me, so trust me when I say…it was huge.

“Eh!” – Tanner Foust

Promo Still from Top Gear USA's Facebook page 17-Sep-2012

Promo Still from Top Gear USA’s Facebook page 17-Sep-2012

Unlike last season’s Big Rigs, which endeared this cast to the North American trucker community, they had no discernible training before their first event: a drag race.  Luckily, it was a very slow drag race.  Mind you, these vehicles aren’t outfitted with Recaro seats.  So, we saw the hosts violently bouncing around in the cabins.  Quite frankly, that was worth the price of admission right there.  When the considerable amount of dust cleared, it was time for the next challenge: a manoeuvrability test.  However, driving a tractor isn’t just about speed and agility.  It’s about getting animals from point A to B, and their task was to take one three-month old calf each to the other side of the farm.  All I can say is that no calves or cows were harmed in the making of this film.  No really, despite what happened.  The little brown one is fine…I think.  By the way, bless these city boys for talking to the calves during the trip.  However, the calves can’t hear from outside the tractors and even if they could; they don’t understand English (or American) because they’re calves.

“Third army is operational!” – Adam Ferrara

Adam Ferrara's Tweet dated 18-Sep-2012 (Top Gear)

Adam Ferrara’s Tweet dated 18-Sep-2012 (Top Gear)

Their last test was haulage of three typical farm items to a location ten miles away and through the small town of Caruthers, California.  The winner’s cargo had to arrive first andwith the least damage.  I try not to give too many spoilers but this one is from the episode’s trailer, so I guess this is okay.  Sweet Mary, what is up with Tanner Foust?  He seems incapable of driving anything bigger than a Ford Raptor (or Velociraptor) without unleashing wanton destruction upon nearby citizenry.  To be fair, the barn looked like it was made out of plywood and prayer, so what happened wasn’t such a surprise.  Still, if you see him in your township driving and/or hauling something large, get yourself and your car out of the way.

“He’s gonna need to articulate a cheque to that farmer for the barn he destroyed.” – Rutledge Wood

The overall challenge “winner” was given the honour of racing a 2012 Lamborghini Aventador against an Inland Crop Dusters Thrush aeroplane.  Also, once more there was just enough mathematical gymnastics and sabotage during the challenge stage to make sure the best-qualified person ended up in the driver’s seat.  I mean really, who other than the professional race-car/stunt driver was going to end up turning out the Lambo?  I mean really, who?  Okay, besides The Stig, who?!?  *shakes fist at the sky*  Oh and one more thing, when are we going to see him in a Bugatti Veyron 16.4, SRT Viper or Hennessey Venom GT, Top Gear?  Inquiring minds want to know, but I digress.

Promo Still from Top Gear USA's Facebook page 18-Sep-2012

Promo Still from Top Gear USA’s Facebook page 18-Sep-2012

The race was between a beast behind the wheel of a beast in a circuit against a crop duster flown by a wild man in a Hawaiian shirt.  BBC Worldwide’s production team showed off their photography and editing skills as this was a slick film that showed off the Lamborghini in all its glory.  They should all be proud of their work.  In all it was a fun episode that hit all the right notes.  The hosts interacted with viewers via Twitter and Facebook during the episode, which has become a highlight for fans over the past few weeks.  Hopefully, this will continue to the Season 3 Volume 1 finale next week, Monument to Moab.