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Preview: The Rutledge Wood Interview

I had a chance to spend some time with Rutledge Wood this morning at Phoenix International Raceway.  NASCAR fans already know Rutledge from Speed TV – and now the rest of America is getting to discover Rut through “Top Gear” on the History Channel.

Rutledge and I talked about the difference in Top Gear fans and NASCAR fans – he shared how illegal videos uploaded to YouTube helped his score the job on TG – I ask him about his fashionable line of new Tshirts and sooo much more!

You will have to listen to the Out of the Tunnel Podcast coming up this week to hear the entire 18 minute interview…. but in the meantime – here’s a preview.

Click play to listen: 

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Top Gear US – Hitting the Redline

credit The History Channel

After a break, the second half of the Top Gear season kicked off tonight on the History Channel.   If you havn’t yet checked out this show – you need to watch.  If you watched in the first season and didn’t get hooked, give it another chance – you need to watch.   Hell, even if you only love the BBC version of this show – you need to watch.

The BBC version of TG has a cult like following – so many of the TG faithful were not willing to give the American hosts a chance.

I do think the show had a slow start out of the gates in the first season.  Most of the BBC “snobs” were bashing Top Gear US before the show show even aired.    There were also folks who had no idea what Top Gear BBC was – but they also didn’t know to they needed to check out the History Channel for a car show.  It also took some time for the American producers and hosts to make it their own.

I think it took a season for Rutledge Wood, Tanner Foust and Adam Ferrara to find their groove.  The chemisty is now in-tune and the three play off each other – ribbing, prodding and humiliating each other at every turn.  You can tell they genuinly like each other and cut-up just like they would if the cameras and pop-tops were off.

(I think I just aged myself with that pop-top reference.  Kids, a pop-top is the removable tab on alumnim cans that we had when I grew up.  You would pull the sharpe tab completely off the can – they were like little razor blades and everytime I went to the pool or beach I feared slicing my foot open by stepping on one.  You may have heard this term, pop-top, in the Jimmy Buffet song “Magaritiville.”)

(OK, I may have just aged myself with that Jimmy Buffet reference.  Kids, Jimmy Buffet is a singer/songwriter that your Mom and Dad listen to when they would get drunk and screw.)

As a car guy, Top Gear is the most fun you can have on TV.  The formula is simple:  take three grown-up men acting like giggling teenagers, throw in some really fast cars, crazy stunts and funny writing…..

If you are not watching Top Gear US – you need to watch.

The show comes on the History Channel every Tuesday night at 9pm.

Click here to see clips and learn more about the show.


$5,000 Reward for Top Gear US Pilot

From the folks at Jalopnik……. With the Late Night Wars carpet-bombing NBC’s 10:00 slot, the network’s hurriedly scrounging for filler. One show they’re not contemplating? The ill-fated cargasm,Top Gear USA. Was the pilot so horrendous it’s unwatchable? We’ve got $5,000 to find out.

The BBC’s Top Gear may be one of the world’s most popular shows, but in two attempts at colonization here in North America, it hasn’t succeeded. The closest the show’s come to reality was a pilot shot with car guy and former “Man Show” hostAdam Carolla, racer Tanner Foust and noted interior drapery design consultant Eric Stromer. The pilot, originally slated to air on NBC as a Spring 2009 replacement series, was dropped thanks to network President Jeff Zucker‘s inability to stomach high production costs and because Knight Rider was just so completely terrible.

All we know is we want to see it and with Zucker now looking down the barrel of a one hour-per-night gunshot-like hole in his schedule thanks to his decision to cost-cut with an unfunny car guy, we’re wondering why he’s not looking at Top Gear USA to fill the hole. You think Conan’s pissed? Ha! Hell hath no fury like the teeming car-loving fans of Top Gear. So what happened? Did NBC — as we’d once heard — sell the rights to someone like Discovery or the History Channel? Or perhaps, was the pilot just absolutely horrendous?

There’s only one way to find out — watch it ourselves. We know someone out there must have it. So we’re willing to pay $5,000 to the first person who can provide us with a full copy of the unaired Carolla/Foust/Stromer NBC pilot of Top Gear USA.

the History of Top Gear

This is a long but excellent read – the history and behind the scenes of TOP GEAR – the greatest TV show ever!!   If you do not watch Top Gear on BBC – start immediatly;  after reading this entire article

[ via The Gaurdian / autoblog ]

Top Gear isn’t just a TV show: it’s a phenomenon. With its ludicrous stunts, enormous budgets and defiantly non-PC edge, it’s become a global smash hit. What is the secret to its success?

In 1977, the television equivalent of a beige Austin Allegro trundled on to our screens. With its quaint name and features about road safety, Top Gear undertook the serious business of reviewing new cars. In the years since, however, this Allegro of the airwaves has undergone a transformation every bit as dramatic as the family car, exploding into a colourful, snarling great SUV of a television programme.

Top Gear has in fact taken over the world. It is now broadcast in more than 100 countries, claiming a global audience of 350 million. It is the most illegally downloaded show on the planet. Its format, which its makers describe as “crap men adventures with crap cars”, has turned three shabby, middle-aged motoring journalists into global rock stars. This month not only sees a new series but a world tour, Top Gear Live, which will take the show to cities including Sydney, Cape Town, Hong Kong and Amsterdam.

Top Gear is not simply BBC2′s highest rating programme; it is a phenomenon. Schoolboys and teenage girls flock to public appearances by its presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Even environmentally conscious viewers get guilty pleasure from its ludicrous stunts filmed with enormous budgets. And it’s political: it kicks against what it sees as New Labour’s nanny state (a Downing Street website poll demanding Clarkson become prime minister attracted nearly 50,000 signatures) and does everything in its power to provoke the politically correct sensibilities of the BBC. Barely a month passes without the show crashing into controversy, with Ofcom rulings on its jokes about prostitutes and suicide, and accusations that it is sexist, environmentally reckless and glamorises speeding.

To properly understand the show in its current format you have to go back – perhaps unsurprisingly – to school. It was at the public school of Repton, almost 40 years ago, that a boy called Andy Wilman befriended a fellow boarder with “a massive gob, really bad music taste and massive hair – the full Leo Sayer”: the teenage Jeremy Clarkson. The pair ended up working together on Top Gear, and according to Wilman, now the executive producer of the show, their schooldays have been a profound influence on the revamped model: the presenters behave as if they are still at school and are celebrated and condemned alike for their puerile sense of humour.

The arrival of the motormouth Clarkson in the late 80s shook up strait-laced Top Gear, but audiences declined after he departed in the late 90s. Wilman, a burly, sweary 47-year-old who, when we meet is frantically stitching together the new series in an edit suite in Soho, was actually sacked from the old model Top Gear in 1999. The show looked “fucking old-fashioned” next to new formats such as Changing Rooms, he says now, and after it was finally axed in 2001, he and Clarkson got together over a pub lunch to draw up a manifesto for a brand new Top Gear.