13th Mar2020

The World Has Turned, and Left Us Here

by Michael Chandler

Before I get going, this is going to be a think piece about what we do now that damn near all of our motorsports have been cancelled or postponed, not a deep dive on the Weezer song The World Has Turned and Left Me Here. Just letting you know.

In the last 36 hours we’ve gone from being on the cusp of the new F1 and IndyCar seasons, looking forward to the Super Sebring Sports Car Weekend, and champing at the bit for the new Formula Drift season. And now? Well, The Australian GP (and the support VASC race), IndyCar at St. Pete, the IMSA/WEC Super Sebring Weekend, and with the Long Beach GP events have all been cancelled. What are we supposed to do now?

We could just sit around, feeling sorry for ourselves, complaining about things being cancelled over this. We’d feel good for a minute, but nothing would get done in the long run. We could use this time to work on our projects, and get them closer to being done, or maybe even finish them! But then we might not have a place to show them off, or drive them. So all that work, while good in the long run, won’t pay immediate dividends. Then what?

We’re still left wanting for something: something to watch, something to do, something to cheer for. What can we do to fill that hole in our lives? I’ve got an idea. It won’t quite scratch either itch fully, but it’s better than nothing.

We’re gonna play some racing games. Will it scratch the itch of actually driving? No. Will it soothe your desire to cheer for someone? Kinda. It’s something to do, at least. I’ve still got GT Sport, and I’ve since acquired Forza 6 & 7, as well as Horizon 4. Since it’s cheap, I can grab a copy of Project Cars 2 if enough people demand it. I’m not doing Asetto, my PC will explode if I give it a try. I’ll jump on Tuesday nights, and stream on our/my Twitch channel. In the morning I’ll post what game will be played that evening, and remind you to add me on PSN/Xbox Live so we can get some driving in. I’ll rotate games each week, so we won’t get stuck in a rut.

But Michael, I hear you say, I can’t hop on on Tuesdays. What do you expect me to do? It’s very simple: get your own thing going! Keep the home fires burning. Let us know what and when you’re gonna game by sending us a message on Facebook, Instagram, or an old fashioned email; and we’ll make posts on Facebook and Instagram about it to spread the word. The cancellation and postponement of all these races and events its hitting us all, and it sucks. But at least with this, we can kinda scratch that itch.

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03rd Mar2020

Florida Man Buys Defunct Race Track, Makes Me Miss Our Defunct Track

by Michael Chandler

By now we’ve all seen that Cleetus Mcfarland bought himself a race track in Florida. And some of us are very happy that he has this facility where he and his friends, and other content creators, can go and do the stuff we love: make awesome videos and content. Videos and content that may or may not bogging deep, letting her eat, fogging like you mean it, epic burn outs, crazy drifts, or kei vans. While we’re happy, some of us are also left wanting something we remember fondly.

It was a place where we met new friends, hung out with old friends, and took part in the age old tradition of giving everyone shit. Money was won and lost, unofficially, and extra-curricular activities were planned for the hours after the gates would close. The place was Rocky Mountain Raceway, a place that was ours without us owning it.

8.8 second 1/4-mile Mustang

I was never much for drag racing, but most of the guys I came up with were. So pilgrimages to the Midnights were always in order. We’d hang out in the stands, watch the really fast guys go really fast, and talks shit to everyone who didn’t think a Honda couldn’t wreck an SN95, F-Body, or any other Domestic. Those were the days. We’d talk about getting a car on track, or how the project car was so close to being done. Those warm summer nights were some of the best.

I didn’t make it to a lot of Midnights after Miller Motorsports Park opened up. I had found something new and fun, and then I found another new, fun thing: drifting. Then it was more nights, and even some days, back at RMR with all my friends. We did the same stuff: talk about getting a car on track, how close our projects were, and give out some humility when it was necessary. We were in the midst of the halcyon days, and like everyone who is in them we didn’t know it.

That track was the place where I could just have fun. I didn’t feel obligated to shoot all the photos. I could go, shoot some photos, and hang out with my friends and sneak them down into the infield. We saw all the local legends up close, and we could just kick it. Those warm summer nights were some of the best.

There were always rumors that the track was going away, that it had been sold and was about to be bulldozed. But those rumors would die down, and everyone would get back to driving. Then one day the rumor didn’t die down, it didn’t go away. It became real.

As I write this, the pavement has been removed and the bleachers ripped out. Buildings have been razed, fences torn down, stairs removed. It lies in state. A great corpse, desiccated and rotten. It was ours, but then it was taken away. The memories we made there can never be taken, though. We have the memories, photos, and videos. In them, RMR exists as it was, or even better than it was. Our little spot is just as glorious in our minds as it ever was in reality.

I’m glad Cleetus has the Freedom Factory, that him and his friends have something we had. I can’t wait to see what they do with it. But on those warm, summer nights I wish we still had our track. What are your memories of RMR? Let us know, and we’ll share them on an upcoming CAMcast!

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05th Nov2019

The SEMA 2019 Vlogs

by Zack Lords

Want a peek behind the scenes of our SEMA goings-on? Well look no further than our daily vlogs!

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10th Oct2019

The Slow Burn

by Michael Chandler

Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life

Marc Anthony, or someone else

That’s a saying a lot of people try to live by, but nobody ever looks at the other side of the coin, or reads too much into this very similar, but darker quote:

You’ve got to find what you love, and let it kill you

Kinky Friedman, not Charles Bukowski

That’s pretty fucked up if you think about it: there’s this thing that you love, and I mean LOVE, and you’re going to let it kill you because that’s how much you love it. That’s some cult level shit right there. Sometimes you just want to do something because you love it, not make it a job nor let it dose you with rat poison every day for the rest of your life.

Lately I’ve been unable to sleep a whole night through. I’ve got heartburn all the damn time, and I spend a healthy chunk of my work day mornings dry-heaving because I’m afraid I’m going to get to work and immediately get fired. I shouldn’t, because everyone at work likes me, and I’m doing a good job, but I still have that feeling of doom wrapped around me every morning. And I mean EVERY MORNING. For the last few months I’ve been having little panic attacks before I get in the car to drive to work, and occasionally when I’m walking into the building.

The day job isn’t the only thing that has got me feeling not super great. Heading to the track to shoot photos has started to feel like a chore. Not because I don’t like shooting, and seeing some of your bright, smiling faces, but because it’s starting to feel like a job. Not the “this doesn’t feel like work!” job, or the “he died doing what he loved” job, but “Shawshank Redemption is on TNT for the 1000th time, I guess I’ll throw it on…” type job. I like Shawshank, but it’s not my favorite movie, nor does it really stir up any passion in me. Heading to the track, be it for NASA or a drift event, is starting to feel like Shawshank: not the worst way to burn a weekend.

Don’t get me wrong: I still love going to a NASA weekend or a drift event. I get to see my friends, and watch them shred. Normally, for me at least, the chore feeling pops up towards the end of the season, and it’s a “it’s been fun, but I’m ready to take a break” kinda feeling. This year was different. Shooting has been feeling like a chore since before the Enduro, and it’s been feeling like “this again? Well, let’s try and do better this time around.” Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing this for a decade, which it may very well be. Burnout is a real thing, and I know we’ve all felt it. But maybe it’s got more to do with those day job morning feelings than it does me burning out.

My dad is one of the big reasons I’m into cars and motorsports. When I was a kid, he would wax poetic about his favorite car, the 427 Shelby Cobra, and would talk about how nice it was that he got to watch the Indianapolis 500 every year for his birthday. The long weekend from school was just the cherry on top of the cake. We would watch IndyCar and CHAMP Car races on the weekend, and those moments got me to where I am right now.

But it hasn’t always been sunshine and lollipops. My dad has struggled with depression and anxiety. Most of the time he’s been on top of it, but there have been some times where he wasn’t. Those were very dark and scary times that I’m not going to get into here. He’s struggled with it, and I have too.

I feel sad some of the time, but I don’t know why. I’ll focus on really dark thoughts, or really awful memories. I’ll just want to lay around and not do anything, and let my brain go to those dark places. Sometimes I’ll get myself on a task of some sort, but then get distracted. Then get distracted from the first distraction… and then again. It’s real easy to run around in the metaphorical weeds and be distracted when your brain really, REALLY wants you to stay in full time panic mode, or dive into a pit of despair and misery.

What’s worse is I know that this isn’t good. It’s not good for me, or my friends and family, or you out there wanting to see whatever content CAM creates. But here I am, putting on a brave face and doing the things that are expected of me, whether they bring me joy or not. Not all the things I want to do, but just the things people have come to expect of me.

I took a mental health day. I told my managers that I was “sick”, and that I wasn’t going to be making it in to work today. They told me to feel better, which I know they mean sincerely. Then I grabbed my phone, and saw this from Tommy at WTF1. Turns out today is World Mental Health Day, and he shared a story about Damon Hill and mental health. I recommend reading it, it’s a good story that pushed me over the hump and got me to write this.

What I’m dealing with isn’t something you just “get over”. You have to put in work. I’m going to find a therapist and start seeing them regularly, and I’m going to be more open about my feelings with those who care about me. I keep myself fairly closed off, which isn’t helping the situation. And I’m going to find ways to keep the fires burning, which will probably mean our NASA and drift coverage will change. It probably won’t be the massive galleries, with little to no context, but it could be the massive galleries WITH context. Or smaller galleries, because I do get excited about doing the live streams that Matt, Dave, and Jason set up for some of the NASA weekends this year, and those take away from my shooting time. Who knows what the future will hold? I don’t know, but there will be a future.

You never know what someone is going through until you ask them. If you see me out there, ask me how I’m doing. And if I just say “fine” or “not so bad, you?”, push me on it. I’ll do the same for you if you want me to. Check up on your friends, support foundations that are trying to reduce the stigma around talking about mental health, and most importantly: don’t keep it in. Talk about how you’re feeling, let your friends and family know how you’re doing. Thanks for reading this. We now return to our regularly scheduled shenaniganry.

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23rd May2018

Doin’ Hard Time

by Trent

    As I talked about in the Cars N Copters coverage post, more happened to make it an interesting trip. This is that story. 

    Being that I wanted to have a fun car after flying into Long Beach, I wanted to get something that will fit in with all the PCH Bentley’s and Ferrari’s, but on a Buick budget. That led to a Polaris Slingshot on Turo. The price was right, and despite not being too fast, the fun factor is high. I had fun…for 3 hours…

    Tommy picked me up from the airport at 8am, I went and picked up the Slingshot before we headed over to Lamborghini Newport Beach for their get together. We saw some great vehicles and headed out. Wanting to get one last look, we drove by the show again and were greeted by a Costa Mesa motorcycle police vehicle with it’s lights flashing. 

     Pulling into a parking lot, the police officer took my license and the supplemental insurance provided through Turo. He came back shortly after to tell me how wrong I am for not having a helmet in a motorcycle(which the Slingshot technically is), how the vehicle isn’t registered, there’s no insurance according to the DMV, and that he would be impounding the vehicle and assessing over $1000 in fines!

     Obviously not how my trip was intended, especially since I was really looking forward to my time behind the wheel of this thing, I was smiling ear-to-ear up until that point. All my research beforehand said not to worry about a helmet because the Slingshot has seat belts and a roll bar. 

    Fortunately, the officer assessed the fines to owner of the vehicle, and not me, because my cheap Turo rental would have gone quite over budget. Finally getting ahold of the owner as his Slingshot was being loaded onto a flatbed, he was very nonchalant. He apologized profusely and mentioned the only vehicle he had available to rent to me was a C7 Corvette Convertible…with an automatic…

    I was hesitant and thought long and hard about just getting my money back and riding in Tommy’s Honda Element over the weekend. Then I relented and met up with him to get the keys to the Corvette. I am glad that I did.

     This Corvette had 27,000 miles of rental use, and Corvette’s aren’t known for high quality interiors. The C7 tried to change this reputation, and if this made me nod in agreement. No squeaks, no rattles, just pure speed! I’ve driven a C6 Z06 on several occasions, this felt faster! This was just a C7 Stingray, with an 8-Speed auto. Surely it can’t be this good. After about 400 miles in canyons, the PCH, and multiple people asking about the car and asking for pictures, I am a believer. I’m happy about my misfortune despite really wanting more time with the Slingshot. And now I can say I have had a car impounded.

Trent

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02nd Oct2017

New $1000 Car

by Michael Chandler

Gary Cohn, economic adviser to the President and man worth $266 million dollars thanks to running Goldman-Sachs, was very adamant about what the average American can do with the $1000 windfall the proposed tax reform plan will net people.  He said they could renovate their kitchen, or buy a new car.  Now, I’m not sure if he meant a new new car, or just something new to whomever, but we all know that you’re not going to get a brand new car for $1000.  You could make a down payment on one, but that’s very different from buying one.  But I’ll take any opportunity, however loose it may be, to roll through KSL and see what deals/nightmares are out there!

A few notes: First, I’m only looking within 50 miles of my zip code.  Your results may vary.  Secondly, I excluded non-running or project cars.  I want to see what running and driving cars are out there.  With that said, let’s dive into the cesspool!

Not a promising start…

1,001 crap cans!  And already one non-running example!  Let’s narrow this down a bit more.  How do you feel about being all fancy, and living in fear of CELs???

BAM!  Roll in luxury and fear with this A4!  “To many features” probably means a run of the mill A4, but I wasn’t expecting to find a running Audi in this pile of garbage.  

Check out this Apricot Ice Prizm LSi!  Basic transportation in a fancy package.  Not exceptional, but worth noting.

You lookin to get into the Taurus Challenge?  I got your back!  $600 AND it comes with a spare door.  But what if you need something to haul and/or drag things?

UPDATE: 6 more cars have been listed for sale

Here’s a “super reliable” regular cab Ram for the max $1000 OR TRADE for whatever equals the value of a rusty Ram.

I wanted to end this with a Miata, because I was sure I’d find some $700 running and driving hunk of shit, BUT I WAS WRONG!  There were quite a few MPVs though, and shockingly this one is the best of the bunch.

However, if you’re bent on getting a Mazda sports car, you can take a swing at this $850 RX-8.  Not sure if the recall and extended warranty will transfer to you, but worth a shot.  And that recall, from what I gather, requires an engine replacement because (wait for it) oil leaks and damages the catalytic converter!  If Mazda will honor the recall for a new owner, sweet!  If not, well you’ve got a very leaky rotary that’s just begging to be ripped out in place of something like an LS or a JZ or a less leaky rotary.

I could spend hours, NAY, days doing this, but unfortunately I have other things I’ve gotta do.  What are your choices for a $1000 or less vehicle?  Does anything here look appealing to you?  Let us know!

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24th Jan2017

And Here’s A Snowy GTI

by Michael Chandler

This weekend I was helping my girlfriend move into her new apartment.  Hooray for a change of scenery!  Unfortunately, we had that monster storm.  I was confident it wasn’t going to be that bad.  They said 1-3 inches!  I can deal with that, even with the sub-optimal tire setup* that’s on the GTI.  Then I woke up, and looked out the window.  

GUH!  That 1-3 inches wound up being over 6.  That much snow would be too much for the GTI, but it wouldn’t be that much of a problem for the Nissan Rogue that was tucked in the garage.  I just had to get it out, which meant moving the GTI, which meant I’d have to clear the driveway of all that snow.  All that heavy, wet snow.  So heavy and wet that it rendered my little snowblower useless.  Normally, I’d have another cup of coffee and fire up the old Playstation; however, I had made a promise, and damnit I was going to keep it!  I grabbed the shovel, and got to digging.

And dig I did!  It was not fun, nor easy, but I did it.  And I saw some of my neighbors challenge the hill that is my street.  Everyone made it, but my God were some sketchy.  Have you ever seen a Mercury Mariner do a tank slapper up a snow covered hill, with a nervous teenage guy at the helm and his scared girlfriend hanging on to anything in the cabin for dear life?  I HAVE.  It’s pretty damn scary when you’re in the killzone, funny in hindsight.  Anyway, I managed to get the GTI moved, the Rogue out, and helped my girlfriend moved.  Expect a weird review of the Rogue here in a little bit, I have some thoughts on that crossover.

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*All Seasons on the front, summer tires in the rear.  Always have the proper tires, kiddos!

07th Oct2016

The Best Worst Trip

by Michael Chandler

ronda-lotto-tickets

It was cold and dark last night.  In the darkness, surrounded by storage units filled with other people’s stuff, Scott, myself, and a man named Cody pushed Big Ronda onto a U-Haul trailer.  As they were ratcheting the car onto the trailer, I began thinking about something I found the day before.  I went down to the storage unit on Tuesday, and began cleaning it out the refuse that had accumulated in the three years I owned the car.  While cleaning out the glove box I found a receipt and some lotto tickets that never made it across the counter of the convenience store in Franklin, Idaho.

The Powerball jackpot was rather high, but not historic in August 2013.  Being the sort of fellow who thinks that having ridiculous amounts of money would allow me to pursue many of the endeavors I’d like to, and having a GT car in need of a test of its grand touring prowess, the decision was made to head to Idaho and grab some lotto tickets.  I called up Dave, and we made plans to run to the land of Russets.  But first we needed to address one big problem the car had: the lack of speakers.

When I test drove the car, it had a speaker box in the back and some semi-functional door speakers.  When I picked it up, the speaker box was gone.  Dave and I went to a junkyard, harvested some door speakers from a GS300, and proceeded to install them while parked on the street in front of his house.  While installing the speakers, we also plumbed in a fully functional boost gauge.  One that went up to 25psi.  With those installed, we made our way to Tommy’s family’s restaurant: Thai Drift.  We rolled in, showed off the car to Tommy and Trent (who happened to be down there) then made our way back to the freeway.  On that short drive we noticed something: Ronda was making more whoosh pcha noises than before.  While I stepped on it, Dave looked at the boost gauge and let out an excited laugh when the needle hit 15psi and the car hit fuel cut.  That was an issue we’d deal with later, because we were on our way to prosperity!

We stopped at 7-11 in Kaysville before making the final push through Logan and into Idaho.  The clutch felt weird while getting off the freeway, but I just attributed it to the heat.  We grabbed some drinks, popped the targa top off, and got back on the road.  Everything was fine, until we got off I-15.  While merging onto US-91, the clutch pedal stopped doing anything.  It would sink to the floor, and stay there.  I managed to keep the car going, but we ran into some construction on 89 and I killed the car.  I had only ever driven it with a full functional clutch pedal, I could blip the throttle on downshifts, but I had no idea how to drive the car without using the clutch pedal entirely.

It was at this point that I began rethinking every decision I made for the last few months: why did I buy this car?  I didn’t want a mk3, I wanted a mk2.  Something I could slam on tiny wheels, and live out my new found dreams that I saw on Instagram feeds like All That Low, DOHC Research, and Liberty Walk.  Why did I not test the car out on a different drive?  What happens if this car can’t get going again?  Why am I here?  Who am I?  What is this?  Through all of the self-doubt, Dave’s voice came through. He coached me through, and while it was stressful, we made it to the L Tienda.

The radio took a dump on us at some point, so we just had our conversational skills to get us through. So while I went in and spent way too much on lotto tickets, Dave contorted himself and got the radio kicking again.  We then faced an important decision: Head back the way we came, which would take us back through Logan and Brigham City at rush hour; OR stay on the 91 until it ran into I-15.  After some brief discussion, and realizing that there would be a lot less shifting required, we stuck to the 91.  We got on the road, and Dave found what would end up being our soundtrack for the rest of the drive: Sports by Huey Lewis and the News.  The 1983 classic went into the tape deck, and never came out.  The damn thing ate the tape, but kept playing it.  It played both sides, on constant repeat, but refused to eject the tape.  It was on the third play through that I decided to uncork Ronda, and see how 100+mph felt without a roof.

We weren’t stopping until we got to my house, where we would grab the Subaru, and take Dave home.  A friend of mine in Farmington wanted to see the car, and us, but I did my best to convey to her that we could not stop, despite how much we wanted to.  We soldiered southward, and prepared for our final test: the stretch of road between the freeway exit and my driveway.  A harrowing 1.1 mile stretch of surface streets, filled with stop lights, traffic, and people who don’t understand how traffic laws or courtesy work.  Would we have to face each battle, or would luck smile upon us?  Mercifully, we had a favorable drive over that stretch.  We made it to my driveway, where we abandoned Ronda for the Subaru, and made our way back to Dave’s.

That was the first, and only big drive Ronda ever went on.  It was the best drive it could have been.  If it was completely uneventful, it would have been boring, and I wouldn’t have remembered the details three years on.  If it was an abject failure, then Ronda would’ve been gone long ago.  It was exciting, it had danger, humor, drama, no romance though.  I could not have scripted it better, nor would I have wanted it to be any different.

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16th Sep2016

I Don’t Understand the USTCC

by Michael Chandler

ustcc-2016-camautomag-1

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

When I think touring car racing, I think of BTCC or DTM.  A series with a defined rule set, familiar cars built to similar specs, and strong manufacturer representation. When I look at the United States Touring Car field, and peruse the rule book, I don’t really see that.  I don’t see DTM or BTCC.  I see an organized series, with defined rules and multiple classes, but I don’t see a touring car series.  At least in the traditional sense.  And to be honest, I don’t mind.

ustcctumc910michaelchandlercamautomag-8

I’m going to lose some of you here, and I’m ok with it because I think that this is the best analogy for the USTCC.  In Forza and Gran Turismo (although this may have changed for GT, the last iteration I played in the series was GT4), in the campaign/story mode, you have some series where you can basically have a fully modified car racing against stock or lightly modified cars.  I loved those series, because I LOVED lapping alright cars in something utterly stupid.  Stupid like a Daihatsu Storia CX with a turbo so big, it needed a push from a competitor to get going.  The USTCC has a lot of that ridiculousness in it!  The GT class will basically allow you to build something pretty nuts, provided you can stay within some guidelines.  They’ll even let you trot out a kit car or a purpose built race car, like an old V8 Super Car, GT3 Cup car, or a purpose built tube frame chassis.  Granted that the tube frame car has a silhouette of a production based car less than 8 years old.  Because of those rules, we can have the picture above.

ustcctumc910michaelchandlercamautomag-2

There’s some other interesting stuff about the series.  They have factory support from Honda, Mini and Mazda.  Finishers get cash, granted you’re not in the Sportsman class.  Drivers could win tires if they finish on the podium, and they give out other stuff at random.  I’m certainly wouldn’t complain if I walked away from the race with a fist full of cash and some prizes.  The USTCC isn’t a traditional touring car series, and I don’t know why they call themselves a touring car series.  It’s not really a touring car series, but who cares?  It’s an interesting little series.

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07th Jul2016

Let’s Talk About Top Gear

by Michael Chandler

top gear usa

Words by Michael Chandler

Some things happened while I was out.  Big things.  BBC Top Gear just wrapped up their first season post Clarkson, Hammond, and May; and Top Gear USA has been cancelled.  OH! And Chris Evans was let go/fired/what have you after that first season because of reasons that may or may not include arguing with producers, co-hosts, or a sexual assault investigation.  Whatever the reasons, he’s out and the Top Gear landscape is going to be different in the coming years.

Top Gear USA

Now I want to talk about Top Gear USA first, seeing as how 1. It’s dead and 2. I seem to be the only person who didn’t hate the show and wasn’t glad when it went away.  I’m still trying to figure out why it was so derided.  Was it because it was called Top Gear, but wasn’t the Top Gear everyone was used to seeing?  Was it the lack of studio segments and guests?  Car reviews?  Accents?  They had the films and challenges, which were pretty damn good, and it was arguably the best American car show on television.  Better than the “street racing” or “will they finish the build before the auction??” shows that serve as the other options.

Did it have its problems?  Oh yeah.  I liked the show, but I’m not an idiot.  Despite what it may look like, I’ll acknowledge the show’s flaws.  Here’s how every challenge went: Adam drove some giant American boat like someone with no regard for anything whatsoever, Rut drove something quirky for the sake of it being quirky,  and Tanner would be the boy racer in whatever garbage performance vehicle he could find.  They would deliver mail, make amphibious cars, try out the new crop of police cars, Tanner would win most of the challenges, and he would drive whatever super car the producers declared the “prize”.  Every.  Damn.  Time.  It became SUPER formulaic, and a bit boring, but the hosts gelled.  There were moments of camaraderie and genuine humor, something you’re not really getting from the other shows, with their hyper dramatized premises.

So it wasn’t Top Gear with Clarkson, Hammond, and May.  You know what?  It was never going to be.  Nothing, save for maybe their new Amazon show, will ever be that.  Not even their old show.

BBC Top Gear

Like the rest of you, I watched the whole season.  Unlike some of you, I waited until it was broadcast on BBC America, but that’s neither here nor there.  I watched, hoping that the massive hosting line-up would find some sort of equilibrium, or show signs of something like that.  Instead, we got a series where we barely saw some hosts, too much of others, and an after show which was better than the some of the episodes of the proper show.

I was really surprised by Rory Reid.  He was a superb presenter, one who showed genuine excitement to be driving and talking about the cars.  He also knowledgeable, something that can’t be said about other people on other shows.  And Matt LeBlanc was excellent as second chair.  In my opinion, he was better than Chris Evans.  Evans was too shouty, everything was in capital letters with him.  He was too wacky morning radio DJ, which was only amplified by LeBlanc’s quiet, subdued demeanor.  I felt Sabine was under utilized.  We saw her drive a Corvette Z06, an R8, and an A8… and that’s it.  Disappointing.  We saw Eddie Jordan break a small Mercedes SUV, and play the spoons on a train.  I think that’s about all we need from him.  Honestly I think the show can, and should, go on with Matt LeBlanc, Rory Reid, Chris Harris, and Sabine Schmitz.  And The Stig, that’s a given.  There’s definitely enough show for the four of them, and you don’t always need all of them at the same time.  A leaner cast would help the show flow better, but speaking of leaning out to help the show…

Why in God’s name were there two Stars on every show?  And why did that segment drag on for as long as it did every show?  I think that that had to have been either a concession the producers made to get Evans on as host, or a demand he made after he got the job.  Either way, it was awful and I hope they go back to the one star format they had in year’s past.  I did like Jenson Button coming on and driving a McLaren.  Maybe try and do more of that?  You could have Nico and Lewis crash AMG GTs into each other, Kimi fall asleep while driving a 488, and Kevin Magnussen drive an R.S. 01.  THAT is a segment that has some legs.  Tell me you wouldn’t want to see F1 drivers being interviewed while driving a supercar, then having to do a lap in a reasonably priced car.  BAM! fixed part of the show.  If that happens BBC, I expect to see my name in the credits and payment for my services.

 

Top Gear, et al., going forward is going to be different than what we’re used to, different than what we saw this season.  This time next year the old trio will have a season under their belt, and the BBC will have another season of Top Gear in the books.  Will The Grand Tour be what Top Gear used to be?  Will Top GEar find its footing?  Either way, I’m excited to see where this all goes.  What are your thoughts on all of this?  Join the conversation by leaving a comment.

And on that bombshell…

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