Review of Top Gear USA’s Cool Cars for Grownups

Review of Top Gear USA’s Cool Cars for Grownups

The boys were off to Colorado in this episode of Top Gear USA to show us Cool Cars for Grownups, aka family friendly cars that would help Daddy keep his man card. They gathered in Denver at Elitch Gardens Theme Pak. Adam was in a 2014 Mercedes Benz E63 AMG Wagon. Tanner drove a 2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. At first glimpse, Rutledge chose the most economical vehicle with a 2014 Honda Odyssey, but then it was revealed to be a Bisimoto Engineering turbocharged 1029 horsepowered beast. Simon Pagenaud would be proud…and totally jealous. They then embarked on a road trip to Colorado Springs with stops to test their cars and end with a race up Pikes Peak. Pikes Peak!

“Oh I’m going to need a change of underpants when this is over.” – Rutledge Wood

The first challenge was the abandoned airstrip at Springs East Airport, to see which car was not only fast but practical using a heap of sporting goods (Yay, toys!) Sabotage and speeding aside, the altitude really got to them including Foust, the Colorado native. Poor Rutledge still needs to get a bottle of Limacol. I may have to send one for him myself. On the road again, they engaged in some deep and not-so-deep discussions for which this franchise is famous. Three dudes chat away while driving to the same place in separate cars – typical Top Gear. Their next challenge was in Pikes Peak International Raceway’s parking lot and was a test of manliness. They had to burn out a tyre and then change it, all in the least amount of time. Since the Honda was the only 2WD car among them the other guys would have to get *cough* creative. We saw different levels of *cough* creativity on display. After tattooing the asphalt outside the speedway, they went inside for the next challenge which was to chase The Stig who was in a Corvette Z06. It was a good visual lesson on why cars must be set-up to race on ovals and no, you can’t just take your wagon “on the high side.”

“My plan is to not to drive like me.” – Adam Ferrara

 

At long last it was on to Pikes Peak and I warn you that it’s hard to impress me about racing on this mountain. This episode aired just over a week after the 2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb which was held on Sunday June 29, 2014. During that race week I ate, slept (not much) and breathed this race for My Life at Speed; so believe me when I tell you that these dudes are not ready for racing that mountain. When Rutledge said, “…we’d be racing to the top at speeds over 100 miles per hour.” I said, “Oh no you won’t, buddy.” Firstly, let’s take examine what that kind of speed looks like. Ladies and gentlemen, Monsieur Sébastien Loeb in the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak race car:

Anybody daring to race to the top of Pikes Peak at any kind of speed should not and would not be doing it in a daily driver. If so then the car must be fitted with a proper racing seat and five-point harness for the driver, who should also be wearing a fire suit and helmet with a HANS device and most importantly – a roll cage, a darned strong roll cage because of what happened in 2012. Ladies and gentlemen, Jeremy Foley and Yuri Kouznetsov aka the dudes who didn’t die when their car went over an edge on Pikes Peak:

“Stop spitting back there!” – Tanner Foust

They left the base at intervals because Tanner’s done the hill climb before and had an advantage over the others. Okay more of an advantage than he usually has, but they found a way to give him a small and annoying handicap. The finish line wasn’t the summit because of snowfall. Oh yes, there was snow on the mountain because why not? I think they shot this around April 2014. Rut’s Honda Odyssey had the best chance out of the three cars because of its 1000+ horsepower. The lack of oxygen at that elevation reduces the output of normally aspirated engines, so they would all slow down as they went higher. Despite the reduction, he should still have the juice to beat the pants off the others. The question is would he use that advantage?

Honestly, none of them are ready for this. Now now, I’m not ragging on them unfairly because I know how dangerous this mountain race course can be. In fact, they should have thrown in a don’t-try-this disclaimer to absolve themselves from the yahoos who think that if Adam Ferrara did it then so can they. Seasoned vets have gone over the edge. Mike Ryan wrecked his world-famous Freightliner this year during practice and motorcycle rider, Bobby Goodin, lost his life after crossing the finish line on race day.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve raced Pikes Peak three, four or seventeen times – bad stuff can and will happen. Was it cool to see Pikes Peak on a ridiculously popular TV show? Heck yeah! Did those dudes race up the mountain at their cars’ top speeds? No way. Should you try to do it? Absolutely not! Don’t even think about it unless you’ve prepared and qualified for the annual Hill Climb. Otherwise, race to the clouds in your dreams or come hang out with me when I go to the racez. We’ll coffee and doughnuts on the summit with those fantastic racers. Top Gear USA resumes on Tuesday 30, September 2014 at 9:00 p.m. EST with What Can It Take. The advertised time slot change to Sundays has been scratched. I’ll be hosting a Google+ On Air hangout so we can all watch the show together…but separately. Bring snacks and please wear clothes.