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Top Gear America airs this Sunday!
TG America's Tom Ford gives you the lowdown on what to expect from the new series
To be honest, this is weird. After watching Top Gear for years, I’ve actually ended up as a presenter, except hosting the American version rather than the one in the UK. And it’s been pretty bonkers filming in the US, where we spent a lot of time in the desert outside Los Angeles, a good chunk travelling around to various racetracks, and then a bit at SpeedVegas filming our studio bits. Bits complete with live track laps from the celebrities, something that adds a certain frisson of excitement - and pressure - come the big moment. It’s pretty hardcore knowing that if you screw it up, everyone’s watching and there’s no recourse to a handy edit. Also, there’s three strange men shouting at you to go faster. But hey, its Top Gear, right?
And what have we got? I’m not sure. Most of it was a blur. It’s definitely Top Gear, just hotter, and with stranger accents. We went to Mexico and drove Baja bugs across a desert and down a beach - proper bucket-list stuff - built our own ‘80s homage to NASCAR, ran around driving far too fast in UTVs and tested a few new cars, a few old cars and did a few skids. All of us got to drive stuff we’d been hankering after for years - Bill the Bullitt Mustang, me an R32 GTR and Antron … I’m not sure what Antron really wanted to drive apart from his racecar, which we watched him race four-wide. Yep, that’s four Top Fuel dragsters at once, each putting out roughly 11,000bhp. That man is properly mental.
What I didn’t expect was the laughter, and the camaraderie. You throw three strangers together, and you’re asking for trouble trying to make them friends. And to be honest the three of us couldn’t be any more different. But it worked. It really, honestly worked. Ok, so we needed to figure each other out a little at first, but Bill is perhaps one of the most generous-spirited humans I’ve ever met, and is more than capable of tacking the mickey out of himself. Which surprised the hell out of me - I don’t know quite what I expected from a Hollywood actor, but sarcastic, self-deprecating, funny and warm probably wasn’t it. And as for Antron, well, for a man who does something so utterly insane for a living, he’s just so real. Hopelessly optimistic, gloriously silly, warm and friendly. He has time for any and every single human. And he makes me laugh like a drain.
The one thing I hope ends up showing on camera is that we three have enjoyed each other’s company hugely. If nothing else, I’ve made two really good friends. And I hope the US likes what we do.
Top Gear America kicks off Sunday 30 July at 8pm on BBC America