Top Gear is my favorite show. It is about three guys testing, racing, and joking about cars. It is a very popular show worldwide. There is a US version of Top Gear that can be seen on the History Channel. The hosts are Adam Ferrara, a comic and actor, Tanner Faust, a racing driver and stunt driver, Rutledge Wood, an auto racing analyst, and the Stig, an anonymous race car driver that does the power laps for the cars. On November 21, 2010, the first episode of Top Gear US aired. Each episode starts with a preview of the episode while a remix of the Allman Brothers Band “Jessica.”

Adam, Rutledge, Tanner, Stig

Warning: Spoilers are in the review.

Shelby Cobra

The show starts of with a montage of what to expect on the first season of Top Gear US. There is a Shelby Daytona Coupe behind Ferrara, Faust, and Wood. Wood and Faust talk about the Shelby Cobra 427. Wood says the Cobra is just a tin can with a motor wedged in it. Faust says there is only one car that has the spirit of Shelby Cobra, the Dodge Viper.

Segment 1: Viper vs. Cobra

Dodge Viper SRT10

To pay tribute to the Viper, Faust and Wood would race around Griffin, Georgia against at Cobra attack helicopter  Faust was the driver and Wood was the navigator. The guys would have to drive from the runway to a bridge on the other side of town and back while evading the helicopter. There was a three light system on the dashboard of the Viper. The first light, a white light, let the guys know that the Cobra is in range. The second light, a yellow light, let the guys know that the Cobra has a lock on them. The thrid light, a red light, let the guys know that they are dead. Faust and Wood have three lives to get from the runway to the bridge and back. They get out of the runway, but not before they lose a life. They try to blend into the road and hide in a car wash. They make it to the bride without losing another life. Tanner listens to his navigator, who gets them lost in a cemetery. The Cobra catches them in a the cemetery and the guys are down to their last life. The guys finally get out of the cemetery and make it back to the runway. They needed to reach a hanger to win. But before the could reach the hanger, the Cobra gets them for the third and final life. This segment was Top Gear US tribute to the end of the current generation of the Dodge Viper.

The show returns to the Top Gear Studio, which is a hanger. The three guys are next to two Dodge Vipers. The one on the left is a Viper ACR 133 that costs $112,000. It commemorates Dodge Viper setting a new production car lap record at the famous Laguna Seca track. Only 33 Viper ACR 133s will be built. The Viper on the right is the regular Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR. Dodge is doing its own send of to the Viper by making several limited edition versions of the Viper. Dodge will cease production of the Viper and add electronic stability control, as required by new automotive production regulations. The guys hand the Viper SRT10 ACR to the forth member of the cast, the Stig, a professional race car driver. The Stig’s job is to drive each car around the 1.6 mile test track and set times for each car. He drives the Viper around the track in 1:22.0.

Segment 2: Big Star Small Car Buzz Aldrin

Suzuki SX4 Sportback

The next segment is Big Star Small Car, where one of the hosts interviews a celebrity and then the celebrity does a lap around the test track in a Suzuki SX4 Sportback. The first celebrity is Buzz Aldrid, one of the first people to walk on the moon. Adam interviews him and then Aldrid’s lap is shown. He does the lap in 1:55.6.

Segment 3: Three Bulls

Lamborghini Gallardo Balboni

Gallardo Superleggera

The last segment of the show involves Lamborghinis. To start of the segment, Tanner is standing in front of a Lamborghini Tractor giving a brief explanation of Lamborghini. Adam explains Ferruccio Lamborghini’s facination for bulls and why Lamborghinis are named after legendary bulls.  Adam, Tanner, and Rutledge each pick a Lamborghini and try to see who can get their Lambo to the highest speed in one mile. Adam picks the Lamborghini Murcielago SV. Tanner picks the Gallardo Balboni, and does powerslides in this Italian bull. Rutledge picks a Gallardo Superleggera. Rutledge goes first and goes from 0 to 175 mph in the one mile. Tanner goes next and goes from 0 to 173 mph in the one mile. Adam goes last and goes from 0 to 180 mph in the one mile. Adam and Rutledge give Tanner crap for losing, as Tanner hates to lose.

The show cuts back to the studio and Adam and Rutledge are still rubbing it in. They give the lap times for Gallardo Balboni, 1:26.9, and the Murcielago SV, 1:23.4, and then show the Stig driving the Gallardo Superleggera around the test track in 1:22.8. That ends the show.

My overall view is that this is a weak pilot for Top Gear US. The big thing for Top Gear UK is that Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May have great chemistry and work well together. Their jokes and reactions make Top Gear UK one of the best shows on TV. Top Gear US is lacking in the chemistry and jokes department. The jokes are minor teasing at Tanner for losing the Lamborghini Standing Mile segment, since he is a professional driver. The Stig was used twice and was shown with no personality. In the UK version, the Stig has personality and is portrayed as a driving machine. He has something playing on the car’s stereo while test driving the cars, adding substance to the Stig’s character. My biggest problem is the Lamborghini segment. The hosts introduce the cars and just do standing miles in the Lambos. Top Gear UK would have a series of challenges involving the Lambos. But Top Gear US does somethings right. The background music is appropriate for the Viper and Lambo segments. Also the cinematography is incredible considering how fast these cars can go.

Final Verdict: 2 Stigs out of Ten. Episode can be seen at


Originally written on July 19, 2011

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