This is Tanner Foust. He stands alongside Adam Ferrara and Rutledge Wood on the American version of Top Gear telly, drives rallycross cars at an alarming pace, has similar “height restraints” (his words…) to Hammond and rather likes Pagani Zondas. Sounds like a good chap. So we grabbed him for a few minutes at the Frankfurt motor show to get to know him a little better.
As opening gambits go, his was an odd one. “Ipswich. Love it. It’s pretty much the home of hoonage right now. The TG team were over to drive the Noble M6 and we loved it – lots of nice trees to blur and great roads. And the car was good, though not quite as quick as my Fiesta.”
Yep. Tanner Foust likes Ipswich and has a Fiesta that’s quicker than a Noble M6. Though his car’s not an off-the-forecourt effort – Tanner’s a bit of a wheelman, you see. He’s won three X Games gold medals, two Formula Drift national championships and is responsible for the stunt driving in Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Dukes of Hazzard, Bourne Ultimatum, Iron Man 2, and the remake of Red Dawn. Oh, and he recently set the world distance record for a four-wheeled vehicle jump at the 2011 Indy 500 (332 feet, fact fans).
His latest endeavor – driving a 575hp Ford Fiesta in the Global Rally Cross series – seems to be going rather well, too. “At one point I was leading the championship, but I just love driving that thing. It’s ridiculousness. It goes from 0-100kmh in 2.0 seconds. Two point zero seconds. Brutal. The Stig would love it.
“And no, I’m not the British Stig, Or the American one. But I guess I’m a bit like some of the UK presenters. I’m probably eight per cent James May – I’m kind of nerdy – 22 per cent Hammond – we have similar height constraints – 30 per cent Clarkson and 50 per cent Stig. But purely because I love driving. I’m not the Stig. Really. I’m not…
“But I do love the British show. I grew up in Scotland and watched a lot of UK TV like Blackadder and Spitting Image so I love the sense of humour. England’s great, too. The varied weather’s hilarious and you get to drive on the wrong side of the road. It’s like growing up as a skier and then being forced to snowboard – you feel like you’re constantly on the brink of death. Awesome.
“British cars are kind of cool as well. I’ve loved the old Jag XKs ever since I saw the rich guy from Porky’s driving his 120 Roadster. But really, I’m a big import fan. My first car was an ‘83 Honda Civic wagon, which I ended up rolling seven times. Then I had a Honda CRX Si, followed by a 4000S Audi Quattro. I’ve had Euro cars ever since.
“The daily driver’s an M3, which is perfect for LA – fun, fast, quiet and comfortable – and I’ve got a 6.2-litre Ford Raptor, which guzzles the fuel down. The MPG makes me a little sick – it’s 14-15 tops – but I love it. It’s great for the awful LA roads. I’ve also got a poo-brown 1976 912, which is what got me into cars in the first place. It used to be my Dad’s and I thought it was the fastest thing in the world when I was a kid. In reality, it’s slow as hell – 90bhp, four-pot motors aren’t so great. There’s a 911 Turbo in the garage, too. That’s a multi-talented thing.
“But I love getting to drive different cars for the show. The Pagani Zonda was a spectacular experience. The Ford GT remains a favourite, too – though I’ve not driven one on the show yet. You’ve got to have respect for it – so much grip and SO much power.
“Driving the cars is just one part of putting Top Gear together, though. But the rest of it’s just as cool. Now we’re into the second series it seems like it’s developing its own character – we’ve started actually annoying each other, which I think is making it better to watch.
“We’ve shared a lot of fantastic experiences, too. My favourite has to be the LA to Vegas drive. We made the journey in a Jeep without touching a pavement – something I’ve always wanted to do.
“I like the international stuff, too. Our trip to Alaska for the tough truck film was a lot of fun. Maybe we’ll come to England again soon. Hopefully we’ll get to go to Ipswich. Love that place.”
You can see more from Top Gear USA by clicking on these blue words. And we’ve got something in the pipeline for UK fans of TG USA too…