Whether you’re a gearhead or petrolhead, one thing is sure – you have gas on your brain. However, I don’t get the vicious contempt Top Gear UK fans have for the US version airing on The History Channel. I’ve previously mentioned British series that don’t translate well for US audiences and unfortunately Top Gear UK is one of them. This is a speculation but ask if you ask the average American Joe who Jeremy Clarkson, James May or Richard Hammond are, the likely response would be a blank stare. The show, the stunts, the pranks and jokes are undeniably British; but that accent alone is murder to market in the States. However, take a likable NASCAR redneck/nerd from Georgia named Rutledge Wood, a ballsy, New York Italian comedian named Adam Ferrara with a daredevil X-games champ who hates to lose named Tanner Foust and you just might have something.
Simply put, if you’re watching the US series expecting to see flawless mimicry of Top Gear UK, then you’re in for a disappointment. They tried that and it wasn’t working. It felt forced and the hosts looked uncomfortable. Thankfully the format was shifted and it started to gel. I love cars and driving them is a thrill but I’m no expert. My admiration for folks with working knowledge of automobiles’ intricate mechanics is great but that’s where I become a stereotypical chick. I can change a tyre, check my oil, add water where required and even pull off the occasional stunt move to avoid certain death from crazy drivers, but you lose me with talk of RPM’s, stats and ratios. My head’s not full of air but I can pay somebody to service my injectors or carburetor, so sue me. I watch both Top Gear series for the challenges and supercars. Better yet when there are supercars in the challenges!
Who can forget the race from Italy to London, with Jeremy in a <drool> Bugatti Veyron versus James and Richard in the little Cessna? Captain Slow certainly lived up to his name that time. Or Rutledge and Tanner in the Dodge Viper trying to outrun or outmaneuver a Cobra attack helicopter? The more Rutledge screamed, the more I laughed. How about the Jeremy and James in the Toyota Hilux racing Richard in a dogsled to the North Pole? It was genuinely scary and that was no joke. Then there was Tanner tearing down a snowy mountain in the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO versus two skiers? The US show is working with a smaller budget and a bias towards American cars is not surprising; but Top Gear UK has always been about fun with motoring. In this regard, the US version is definitely fun.
So Top Gear UK’s diehard fans can continue to eat themselves up about the US series’ perceived flaws and imperfections. In the meantime Season Two being filmed and I for one, am looking forward to it. Who wins in the battle of Top Gears? We the viewers, obviously! If you don’t like it, don’t watch it but plastering how much you hate either series on social media is a colossal waste of time and energy. In opinion, we should stop all the hating and go learn drifting. Where’s my Dramamine!?!