'Top Gear America' to return with new cast, new network


Antron Brown is ready to race. Photo: Anne Proffit

Antron Brown is ready to race. Photo: Anne Proffit

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Mention to car guys "Top Gear USA" and they are likely to sneer. After an aborted first attempt by NBC that was centered around Adam Corolla, the History Channel version could never live up to the British show it was named after. The trio of rally racer Tanner Foust, auto journalist Rutledge Wood, and comedian Adam Ferrara couldn't match the camaraderie of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May (even though those three had problems that eventually led to their departure from the show). The show lasted five seasons, but it was never a favorite of car enthusiasts.

Now, the show is returning as "Top Gear America," this time on BBC America and with a whole new cast. Didn't like the last group? Try on for size actor William Fichter of "Prison Break" and "Crash" fame, three-time NHRA Top Fuel drag racing champion drag racer Antron Brown, and British auto scribe Tom "Wookie" Ford.

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“We are big fans of the mix of cars, credibility and charisma that adds up to the winning formula for ‘Top Gear,’ and couldn’t be happier that BBCA is now the home for the franchise in the U.S., with ‘Top Gear America’ joining the original show on our network,” said BBC America president Sarah Barnett. “Bill, Antron and Wookie are serious gearheads who never take themselves too seriously. It will be quite the trip.”

How will it work? We have no idea. It will depend on how these three get along, what kind of charisma they have, and what kind of cool car films they can create.

Each episode will also feature the tame racing driver, the Stig, as well as a celebrity, who will compete for the best time at the show's home track, Speed Vegas in Las Vegas. BBC America's press release for the show notes that the hosts will race on the tracks and highways of the American west.

BBC America has ordered an 8-episode season, and the first episode is scheduled to air later this year.

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