He’s big, he wears plaid/flannel shirts, has an impressive collection of cars, and has a melon the size of Europa. He is Rutledge Wood, and he is one of the hosts of Top Gear in America. Rut is one of us: he likes/owns weird cars, builds many cool projects, is a motorsports fan, and is willing to sit down and chat with fellow gear heads. We caught up with him at SEMA last year to get a quick interview. Unfortunately, my phone (which I was using to record the interview) died before I could get my first question out. BUT I did take notes!
Rutledge came upon the opportunity to co-host Top Gear while he was working as a correspondent on NASCAR Race Day on SPEED. He’s a NASCAR fan, but his first race was in 2005. I asked him what his favorite NASCAR tracks were, past and present. His answers? Riverside for the classic, but the modern tracks were a toss up between Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. His favorite NASCAR moment wasn’t a race, but it was going down the hill at Bristol in the snow! Remember folks, it’s the little things. Speaking of little things…
His least favorite Top Gear challenge involved many little things. It was the nightmare fuel challenge that was the rat helmet. *shudder* On an infinitely lighter note, his favorite challenge vehicle was the big single turbo, 2JZ powered Scion xB, which he bought because who wouldn’t want that in their garage? He also bought the school bus snow plow doom bringer from the Snow Show episode. Again, who wouldn’t want that?? I asked him for any bits of information about the upcoming season and he wanted to tell me everything, the look was there in his face, but he said that there was too much good stuff coming down the pipe.
And finally I asked about the bearded man behind the bearded man on TV. In the first season he came clean about his love for Hondas. I asked if he was still a Honda guy, and he is. He’s also a VW guy, and a Chevy guy, and a MOPAR guy. He’s a car guy. A car guy who’s gone through 75 cars like a boss. Ok, with that knowledge in hand I asked him what his favorite car is and what mode of transportation was his favorite outside of the car. Favorite car is a resto-mod ’57 Bel-Air, a total cruiser. And his favorite mode of transportation is the car. The plane is convenient, but nothing beats the car. And finally, if he’s running out the door and has to grab something to sustain himself it’s going to be a protein bar with a cup of coffee or some juice.
Ladies and gentlemen, he is a mythic creature. A loathsome offensive brute, yet impossible not to look at. He’s just like us: he works hard, works on awesome cars, and goes home to his family every night. The only difference is he’s worked as a NASCAR correspondent and now he’s hosting Top Gear.
Words by Michael Chandler, photos as credited
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