One of my favourite TV shows is Top Gear USA. This is the US version of BBC’s Top Gear that currently airs on The History Channel. When it started out, they tried to make a carbon copy of the original but that didn’t last long. It was quickly apparent that this cast and audience was ready for something different, even if they didn’t realize it. We did enjoy two seasons of celebrity guests displaying their (mostly terrible) driving skills and The Stig.Here’s the full list of hot laps set by guests and The Stig in guest cars:
Although very different from its progenitor, this crazy show has endeared itself to me and a growing audience of fans. As a result, I’ve not only written my own cheeky reviews of the episodes, but had an opportunity to interview the cast from time to time for My Life at Speed. Here’s a bit more information on the three guys whom I refer to as the “clown princes of American motoring shows”
Tanner Foust is a versatile and multi-talented driver known for his supreme car control and a proven track record of podium placements, national championships and world records. He is a three-time U.S. rallycross champion (2012, 2011, 2010) who has also won four X Games gold medals for rally (2013, 2010, 2007), and two Formula Drift championships (2008, 2007). He has also held multiple world records including for last summer's astonishing Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare, when he drove a car through a 66-foot loop-the-loop. He also scored the indoor speed record for TV's Top Gear USA, and set a distance jump record with Hot Wheels when he made a 332' ramp-to-ramp leap in a truck at the Indy 500.
His varied race experience includes multiple years of open wheel competition, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, rally racing, various types of sports car racing and the SCORE Baja. He has represented the USA in the annual Race of Champions three times, teaming with NASCAR star Carl Edwards in 2008, Travis Pastrana in 2009, and Mick Doohan in 2010. A year after making his overseas debut in the European Rallycross Championship in 2010 with a select campaign, Foust became the first American driver to win a round of that championship and finished both 2011 and 2012 ranked in the top three. The sport was first introduced to the United States in 2010, and Foust has swept the domestic championship titles since then.
When he isn't racing, the professional driver also performs in films and on television. He is an on-air host for the U.S. version of the seminal BBC auto show Top Gear, produced by BBC Worldwide Productions and airing on the HISTORY channel. The second season of his YouTube documentary series, Life in the Foust Lane, is on now with new episodes uploaded every other Thursday to www.youtube.com/RockstarEvents.
Foust is also one of the stars of Ford Racing's Octane Academy, which aired its second season in 2013. He handles stunt driving in numerous popular films, TV shows and commercials and is featured as a stunt driver in major releases including Need 4 Speed, Bourne Legacy, Bourne Ultimatum, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, Dukes of Hazzard, Red Dawn and Iron Man 2. www.tannerfoust.com
Adam Ferrara:Coming Soon!
Here are all of the Top Gear USA related articles that I’ve written here. Enjoy!
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!
In this episode of Top Gear USA we were treated to a sequel to Season Two’s Big Rigs. This time around in Off Road Big Rigs the cast was going to transport full loads of timber to a saw mill. No stemware this time around and the only fireworks would be from the destruction of private property I all but guarantee. To see if the boys remembered anything about driving big rigs, they were given a crash refresher course at the Washington State Airport. They started with a race and then introduced their trucks. Tanner was in a speedy 2006 Peterbilt 379 Longnose. Adam had a mighty 2007 Kenworth T800 Mule Train. Rutledge (not Adam) had the oldest truck of the three, a 1991 Kensworth W900L Longnose.
“I don’t know why Rutledge is so good at this stuff. It drives me crazy.” – Tanner Foust
This past winter was one of the coldest on record. So Top Gear USA aimed to help the world in Snow Show by inventing a vehicle that would help small towns deal with the snow in a cost-effective way. Anytime Top Gear tries to benefit humanity, it usually ends in a horrendous disaster. Would this time be different? Not likely but they’re going to try anyway. They went to Caribou, Maine to do some hands-on research in show removal at the Spud Speedway. Tanner drove the city’s 2007 International Dump Truck with a snow plow conversion kit. Adam was in a 1994 Oshkosh Snow Blower and Rutledge drove a 2000 Volvo Front End Loader with a snow blower. All of these vehicles were huge, powerful and dare I saw, very expensive. So what would the guys do for research? Race them of course, and then onto the business of getting familiar with the old Chevy Vandura 3500 schoolbus that would become the Top Gear USA Winter Warrior.
“I think I was born to drive something this big.” – Rutledge Wood
Ah the 1980s! It felt like just two, not three decades ago – but it is and those of us who remember the LA Olympics are officially old. Top Gear USA’s ‘80s Power is for all of us who remember the ‘80s and tries to figure out which car from that decade is the ultimate, but they could only spend $5,000 each. The winner would get to drive one of my all-time favourite Ferraris – the F12 Berlinetta. The rest of the show’s budget probably went into the special effects for the cast introductions. That’s not a complaint mind you because they were very entertaining! Rutledge arrive first in a 1988 Sup Toyota MR2, a car they’ve mentioned a few times before on this show but not always in a complimentary fashion. Adam stayed true to his Adam-will-pick-a-Buick-if-he-can form with a 1986 Buick Grand National that he called “a working man’s supercar.” While Tanner may not have brought the best car but he certainly won the prize for best entrance (because Knight Rider) in his 1988 Camaro Iroc-Z. The boys talked about their cars as they drove to the first challenge and as always, ragged on the others’ vehicles of choice. I’m no expert on American cars from that era because in my country we had Ford Lasers, Cortinas, 120Ys and other European models, seeing as we drive on the right side of the road and all. So this time around I have no opinion on the cars whatsoever except that thanks to the episode preview on My Life at Speed, I already knew who won. Bah, I’m not angry because I wrote the thing so let’s just have some fun, eh?
“This is Iron Maiden, Poison, Whitesnake, all wrapped into one rolling piece of Americana with some smokin’ back tires.” – Tanner Foust
In Desert Trailblazers, the Top Gear USA boys headed into the Sonoran desert for an adventure ending at the Grand Canyon. Not a grand canyon but The Grand Canyon. This time around they got to do it in near top-of-the-line vehicles. Adam appeared first in an AEV Brute. I’ve heard of this vehicle before and it is indeed bat poop. Tanner was in a 2012 Overland Journal Edition of the Land Rover LR4. Since the 2012 Range Rover Sport Supercharged HSE he drove in Mammoth Mountain wasn’t water-tight perhaps they though a desert is where it would shine. Rutledge probably had the vehicle that best suited most people’s bank accounts, a $39k 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Ultimate Edition. That sounds a lot more plausible than Tanner’s 4×4 at $70k and Adam’s Brute which is pretty ridiculous at upwards of $132k. It was still good that they showed us three options in action. Although the vehicles were fitted with modern conveniences, the cast wasn’t allowed of use GPS or phones for the journey. It reminded me of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles held annually in Morocco where racers only have an analog compass and old map to find their way. So basically, these boys would almost certainly get lost but I’m not sure how spontaneous that was going to be and you’ll see what I mean by that.
“Hey guys, I was a Boy Scout for a year. I can handle this.” – Rutledge Wood
Top Gear USA is back on the air with its fifth season! Wait, no what? Here’s a paraphrased conversation between my friend Brittany and I:
Brittany Frederick: It’s season four, girl.
Me: No. They said so on the thing – season premiere. Hello?
Brittany: What thing? The BBC people told me it’s the rest of season four.
Me: What? Let me check. (Runs off to Bing) Aww, crap.
And now the end is near, as Top Gear USA faces the final curtain on its fourth season, which makes this Fountain of Youth a very appropriate title for the episode. The boys assembled in Naples, Florida with el cheapo alternatives to the kinds of cars people usually get when they want to feel young. Tanner Foust proudly presented a bright yellow 1998 Porsche Boxster. Rutledge Wood surprised everybody with a 1933 Ford Model A Pickup Rat Rod. Heck, even he looked surprised! Adam Ferrara, still nursing a separated shoulder took advice from Prince with a hot red 1993 Corvette and to his surprise wasn’t allowed to use The Stig as his designated driver. That honour fell to veteran stuntman, Mickey Gilbert, whose IMDB page reads like a bibliography of great American cinema. Yet, the old man still has the goods even if they were well past the Best By date.
“Eh!” – Mickey Gilbert
With the vast history of motoring in the USA, you would think that we’d be knee-deep in American supercars but that’s sadly not the case. However in this episode of Top Gear USA, they endeavored to prove which presenter chose the best of the American supercars. Watching Rutledge Wood drive a Vector W8 before the opening credits, was more than enough indication that this episode was going to be chock full of sleek, sexy, car porn. The cast congregated at my somebody’s house in Malibu, California. Adam Ferrara was in a 2011 Rossion Q1, Tanner Foust in a 2013 Lucra LC470; and Rutledge in (get this!) a 2003 Saleen S7. Not wanting to alarm my family, I kept the girly squeals to a minimum. What a good-looking line-up! The Rossion looked demure by comparison to the stylish Saleen, while the Lucra was just ridiculous and quite frankly, looked dangerous. Better leave that one for Mr. T. to tame. It’s always fun to watch Rutledge fall out of a supercar, but this was his second ride in two minutes, so the last laugh was already his.
“It was a tuck and roll.” – Rutledge Wood
On this episode of Top Gear USA, Fully Charged, they set out to decide who had chosen America’s best entry-level electric vehicle (EV), and I can’t believe it took them this long. Adam Ferrara, Tanner Foust and Rutledge Wood arrived at Rocky’s Pit Stop at Milan, Michigan to find the EV’s waiting for them. Rutledge opted for the Nissan Leaf, Tanner took the Ford Focus Electric (surprise, surprise); and Adam was once again making his ancestors proud with the Fiat 500e. Along their road trip to Lansing, the EV’s would be tested and the victor would get to test drive the Tesla Model S Performance Plus. The first of these was at the Milan Dragway, twenty miles away.
Top Gear USA has asked the question, “Can cars float?” before by dabbling with crossing bodies of water before but never on this scale. This week their goal was to cross Lake Ontario from Buffalo, New York to Toronto, Canada in cars that have been modified to be watercraft. This sounded perfectly acceptable, unlike their claim that the work was done overnight, as in from dusk to dawn, from bedtime to breakfast time, from your last trip to the bathroom of the day, to your first trip to the bathroom of the day. Now pardon me while I take two shots and move along, because this is Top Gear and you’d think I would be used to this poop by now. Time to channel Olivia Pope (when her life isn’t in shambles) and get this show on the road!
In this week’s Top Gear USA, the boys went to South Dakota, on a gearhead pilgrimage to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Of course, they had to have the right mode of transportation and tonight’s overall challenge was to earn the right ride. They used a two-fold reward system, giving the winner a chance to race an Ariel Atom against the Attack Technology MotoGP™ racing bike; and the loser would perform a stunt with one of the stars from History Channel’s new series, American Daredevils. While the man no neither won nor lost (just like a middle child) would get nothing. Apparently the producers were inspired by video games because each challenge gave the hosts a chance to level-up as they approached their destination. Adam Ferrara, Rutledge Wood and Tanner Foust arrived at the Black Hills Harley-Davidson to collect their motorcycles. Unfortunately, that’s not what was waiting for them.
Every once in a while, social media gifts us with a photo or video that makes us laugh…uncontrollably and often inappropriately. Behold, this gem from Tanner Foust’s Instagram account of Top Gear co-host, Rutledge Wood, getting his groove on to Janet Jackson’s Escapade, with wild abandon.
In this week’s episode of Top Gear on History; Adam Ferrara, Rutledge Wood and Tanner Foust set off on an adventure in the Deep South, to figure out which of their favorites is the best of America’s Biggest Cars. The prize would be to test drive the 2014 C7 Corvette Z51 Stingray. (Patience grasshoppers, I’m not going to rant about rigged challenges in the first paragraph. Oh wait.) There’s much to be said for this escapade and the least of which is that it wasn’t boring. The three assembled at a dock in Memphis, Tennessee on the banks of the Mississippi River, to await the arrival of their big old cars. America’s known for having made some of the biggest cars in the history of mankind, so there were more than enough models for the guys to choose from. However, their choices couldn’t have been better, especially considering how unsurprising and yet surprising they were.
In this week’s Top Gear USA, Adam Ferrara and Rutledge Wood stepped into co-star Tanner Foust’s world, for Off Road Racing. He’s often referred to as “Race Boy” and “Captain Rally Pants” on the show, but in this episode we got to see exactly why. As a lifelong rally fan, I swooned that Adam and Rutledge got to fulfill one of my own motorsports fantasies – a driving course at DirtFish Rally School in Snoqualmie, Washington. While many drivers are born with a gift for car control, it’s actually a skill that can be taught, and the good folks at driving schools like DirtFish do just that. Even if you think that you’re a great driver, no opportunity to go to a school like this should be missed.
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!
At long last, I proudly present to you, my very own Top Gear USA Drinking Game. Honestly, I’m surprised one of these hasn’t been sent to me already. It’s perfectly okay if you want to substitute juice, water, tea or anything other than alcohol in your shot glass. I’ll be abstaining too, since you really don’t want me to be drunk and opinionated. Hat tips to my nephew (who prefers to remain nameless) and Jenn Schillinger for their contributions to this list. Here we go!
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
This was Top Gear on History’s final episode of Season 3, Volume 2 as it’s called on iTunes. They usually aim to finish off the seasons with a bang, but this time they opted to go volcanic in Iceland. Having watched this show since its premiere, it’s cool to see that they’re venturing beyond the US border. It means that more dollars are going into the production, and that wouldn’t happen if the show wasn’t bankable. We’re so happy that it’s bankable. They started out in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, where they introduced us to the challenge and their chariots. The mission was to re-establish American dominance of off-roading in the tundra, as Japan’s Toyota Hi-Lux and its like are now the vehicles of choice for the nation’s inhabitants.
“Adam is going to take out a street sign and we just got out on the road.” – Rutledge Wood
The United States of America is a huge country. It takes up 3.794 million sq miles (9.827 million km²) and has multiple climates. This episode of Top Gear on History focuses on part of the country that’s famous for its blistering cold, and the types of vehicles the folks there use during the brutal cold season: winter beaters. These are cheap cars that people use, abuse and often refuse when spring comes. Each host had a $2,000.00 budget to buy a vehicle to bash around in the snow in Baudette, Minnesota. Unlike past episodes, actually any episode I can think of, their cars were buried under snow on a frozen lake. Their first task was to dig their cars out of the snow and head down the road to the official location of their first challenge. Naturally, it became a race.
“It’s ugly, but it works.” – Adam Ferrara
The producers of Top Gear on History showed that they’ve been listening to the fans (and anti-fans), because this episode featured new cars, new challenges and reviews. When the global economy started to sink, many people shied away from large, gas-guzzling SUV’s in favour of smaller, more frugal cars. Yet the market for SUV’s hasn’t completely fizzled and manufacturers have not only managed to keep vehicles large, but make them even more luxurious than before. In this episode, the cast embarked on a grand, 544-mile road trip that would start out on Pismo Beach and end up on Mammoth Mountain.
In this episode of Top Gear on History called Doomsday Drive they tried to benefit humanity with their automotive knowledge and experience, by designing a vehicle that would help the last of mankind survive an apocalypse. They met up in California and Tanner Foust drove what may have been smart money: a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. It was big, awesome and ready for war. I’ve been in one of those things and it makes feel like you’re ready/up for anything. Rutledge Wood and Adam Ferrara were very impressed but the mighty MRAP’s mighty price tag was beyond their budget. They adopted a three-pronged research attack for a more viable alternative.
“So Josh, is it true that you can drink your own urine?” – Rutledge Wood
This may come as a surprise but I only started watching Top Gear on History because of Adam Ferrara. I’ve been a fan of his for a very long time. He’s smart, funny and just a bit of a bad boy, but I had no idea he was obsessed with cars. Needless to say, I was very excited for Adam’s Show. Just like Rut’s Show in Season Two, Adam was in charge of the episode and his fellow cast members. This time around both Rutledge Wood and Tanner Foust were going to be involved. Oh, and the given excuse for Adam’s takeover was a tradition in the entertainment world: blackmail. Onwards with the review!
“The upkeep on a 1975 Jewish girl is amazing.” – Adam Ferrara, Funny as Hell DVD
In this episode of Top Gear on History, they revisited the taxi theme that was previously seen in Rut’s Show. I would like to nickname this Tanner’s Show and you’ll soon see why. Incidentally, the first car in the show was his review of a 2013 BMW M5. Ahem, did I just say review? Yes, a review…albeit a small one that was delivered simultaneously with two terrorised cast members in the back seat. They were supposed to be taxi passenger/test subjects. You can count that as the first scene where Tanner ran amok. In the real world, taxi companies can’t afford a fleet of driftable bimmers, and this is when their mission was revealed.
“It’s a taxi ride. You didn’t pull a bank job.” – Adam Ferrara
On this week’s Top Gear on History, they had a need for speed. Their goal was to show that you didn’t have to spend a lot of money to get a car that could crack the 150 mph barrier. At first it almost looked like we would be finally treated to car reviews, but alas no. Adam Ferrara, Rutledge Wood and Tanner Foust only showed us examples of economical choices for people afflicted with leadfoot syndrome, but without the supercar bank account. You fooled us, Top Gear! *fights air* No Stig, no car reviews, how much more of this can we take!?! Rant, over. Anyway, in the Mojave Desert, Adam drove a Buick Regal GS, Tanner had a Camaro SS and Rutledge put a Mazdaspeed3 through their paces. None of these cars have an MSRP over $30k, but their rides for this episode would be of even less value. They drove the new cars that could definitely reach 150 mph, to meet their chosen chariots that could allegedly reach 150 mph but cost the least.
Top Gear UK has had a famously long hate-hate relationship with motor homes. This week, Top Gear on History was going to take a far more light-hearted and less disdainful approach to the subject. The hosts’ mission was to design a recreational vehicle that provided both fun and functionality, since out of necessity most RV’s sacrifice the former for the latter. Naturally, their creations would be based on regular vehicles and amusingly ill-suited ones at that. At the Sycamore Lodge camping ground in North Carolina, Tanner Foust was first to introduce his simple design: a 1983 Porsche 928S with a rocket replica attached to the roof. Although the rocket was almost as big as the car itself, the material was very light and it didn’t contain very much. We shouldn’t be surprised since this is the same guy who slept in the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car during the Monument to Moab episode.
“Okay just show of hands, who travels with NASCAR every weekend and is always surrounded by RV’s? Oh, that’s right, this guy!” – Rutledge Wood