- Nov 15, 2010
Interview: Top Gear USA hosts go on the record with Autoblog
Top Gear USA hosts Tanner Foust, Rutledge Wood and Adam Ferrara [Image: Jeremy Cowart]
Top Gear is something of an institution among the car-obsessive types who come to Autoblog to keep up with the comings and goings of the automotive world. So it seems fitting that we should all take time out of our busy schedules to talk about the upcoming American version of the hit British show that debuts on the History Channel next Sunday, November 21st, don't you think?
We had an impromptu phone call with the three hosts of the show, comedian Adam Ferrara, racing analyst Rutledge Wood and professional racer Tanner Foust, and managed to record the entire half-hour-long conversation. You'll have to wait until tomorrow when we release the next episode of the Autoblog Podcast (subscribe in iTunes so you don't miss it) to listen to the whole exchange, but in the meantime we've gone ahead and typed up some of the more interesting tidbits and nuggets of knowledge from our time with the Top Gear USA hosts.
Autoblog: What are your current dream cars?
Adam Ferrara: A current dream car for me... uh, a '57 Starfire Olds.
Tanner Foust: I've been lucky because I did another show where I got to drive exotics around... I drove a [Pagani] Zonda. And, ya know, it seemed a little gaudy over the top, but meeting Pagani, who's just completely an eccentric, brilliant, rich car fanatic and completely anal retentive, it all came together with the planets aligned and made this amazing Zonda.
Rutledge Wood: I'm gonna say a little bit combo dream garage... it would be the A Team van, obviously. The '86 Countach that I had a poster of when I was growing up... it was white.
AF: Yeah, Okay. Well, first of all, I didn't know we got more than one.
RW: The A Team van... I'm just saying, the three of us could just cruise around.
AF: But you didn't say you were going to share and now you're picking another one...
RW: Okay, I'm just sayin' that would be fine. And another one. Don't tell anyone else from the South I said it, but a Ferrari Enzo would be great.
AF: But if you want more than one, be honest. You want an '83 Civic wagon because I'm sure you need some more parts.
RW: [Laughs] When I'm done with it, it will be my daily driven dream car. So yes.
AF: I want a Grand National. Put the Grand National down.
And so we did. Buick Grand National for Adam, a Pagani Zonda for Tanner and, um, a 1983 Honda Civic wagon for Rutledge... or maybe a Ferrari Enzo. Or the A Team van.
Continue reading our questions and their answers after the break.
Autoblog: Why The History Channel? It doesn't seem like the obvious choice for Top Gear...
RW: I'll take this one. I think it's the perfect home for it. Their first they ever had was called Automobiles: Corvette. And if you look at how History is composed and the cool shows that they have... they're on this cutting edge of creating learning that's interactive and fun, and I think that's definitely what Top Gear is all about. I mean, you're learning stuff the whole time, even if you're laughing and thinking these three guys are total buffoons.
Autoblog: Has there been any segment ideas that History has said 'no' to?
AF: Um... the two things that I contributed they did... and I know, Tanner, was it your idea to go down a mountain in an Evo?
TF: I always wanted to do that. You know, I grew up in Colorado and as a skier drooling over thinking how cool this would be in a car or truck right now. And going to Mammoth on a powder day in a Mitsubishi Evo... was just epic. And then to have it recorded and documented was just sort of a bonus.
Autoblog: So, who's the fastest of the three of you around the track?
AF: I'd say it's got to be Tanner.
RW: Actually, I think it's Rutledge. I'm the secret bomber on the track. Tanner conforms to good practices and methodology on the racetrack, and I don't mind cutting some corners. Which is why I think I was fastest around the middle of the course.
AF: Tanner was giving me some tips about when to brake and when to come out of turns. And he said just look ahead at the track and you'll know how much to brake. Your survival instinct will tell you how much to apply the brake... but I'm not sure you have that.
Autoblog: Yeah, Adam, in the Lamborghini challenge you turned out to be the fastest. How much of that was due to the car and how much to your lack of a self-preservation instinct?
AF: I'd say most of it was the car... my lack of a self-preservation instinct was just kind of ancillary to the whole thing...
TF: In that episode, that challenge was just a straight line, which car can go fastest in a standing mile. And so there was an element of, you know, a fear factor. But in the other one where Adam was driving a Cadillac on the moonshine run, that's where you really see the fact that he... just has no self-preservation instinct. He had no real seat belt, had a motocross helmet on... and he jumped it, like 45 feet. You wouldn't even see that on a movie set.
AF: When I got out, Tanner Foust is standing there. And you know, this guy is a gold-medal-winning rally driver, he's a stunt driver. And his face was white. He just looked at me like, Dude, are you okay?
Autoblog: I think you bent the car in half, right?
TF: He banana'd the car! And I mean, this is a car that had been through Hell and back and didn't even have a scratch. I mean, this was a car made of iron. This thing was hard as a rock, I couldn't believe he bent it, shattered the windshield. It was so hilarious to watch... I can't believe you weren't just a pretzel inside the steering wheel after all that. It was awesome.
RW: And for the record, Jeremy, we didn't notice that our shirts were matching. Because I came down from breakfast that morning wearing that shirt. Tanner went out, didn't have enough clothes, bought another shirt... came back with that one. And no one said a word to us. So I just want to preface this by saying... We had no idea.
Autoblog: I'll make sure that gets passed on to our readers.
Rutledge, consider it done. Naturally, there's plenty more in our half-hour-long interview. But as we said, you'll just have to wait a wee bit longer for the entire audio session. In any case, we're definitely looking forward to November 21st, which is when the new Top Gear USA show is scheduled to debut on The History Channel.