TG USA Season 4 Spoiler (don't read if you don't want to know)
Enough time has passed now that I feel I can reveal something I know about the upcoming season of TG USA.
I was on a road trip across the country during the month of May, and one of my stops was Willow Springs Raceway in California. Along with taking photos and getting to tour the track, I learned that Top Gear would be filming at the track in a few days. I came back the day they were filming and they were on the Horseshoe Mile. The only presenter there was Rutledge, who has lost a lot of weight, by the way. The Stig was also there. He showed up in a Chrysler Town and Country of all things, .
The cars they were using were a Tesla Model S and a Mercedes S550. I didn't have the nerve to go up to Rutledge and talk to him, nor did I take any pictures because I didn't want to be asked to leave. I was more interested in the filming process. However, I think the storyline will be something to the effect of 'would you buy the Tesla over a more established luxury car?' I have to say, having driven over 1,000 miles in California on my trip, I saw 4 or 5 of them on the road, and it's cheaper than the roadster and you can buy it in different driving ranges at different price points. Who knows what the verdict will be? I do know they were being careful how they filmed so they didn't run the car out of juice before the day was over, and it smelled like brakes every time it came off the track.
They used a Porsche Panamera Turbo in blackboard paint with a modular steel tube rig bolted to the top as a chase car. It was hired out of LA and I met the owner of it and talked to him a bit and he showed me the inside of the car. It's like a 450 HP editing room, very cool! He built the car himself and it's part of a fleet with a couple of Cayennes. I even helped him and an assistant move a $375,000 HD camera from the front of the car to the back of the car so they could film from a different perspective. The camera is normally designed to be mounted to the the bottom of helicopters, but his rig allows it to be mounted on a car. And it is heavy, probably close to 300 pounds!
There was also a Camaro ZL1 there with TopGear plates on it, but they didn't film it. I was told that they might be using it for something else they were filming at a dragstrip on the other side of town later in the day. but I can't confirm that. The director was everywhere, he sounded like he had an Australian accent. I got right in and was able to look at the cars a good amount. The Tesla rides on 21 inch tires. I have never seen a 21 inch wheel before, that's gotta be rare. The Merc was just a Merc, although the Stig was trying to slide it around the track but was having trouble because the traction control kept interfering. He ended up having to really throw the car around to make it look good. BTW, he was dressed as a Stig even when he showed up, so I don't know who he was.
It was a very cool day. I kind of kick myself for not walking up to Rut at some point and saying hi, I just kept saying to myself, "I'm on vacation, but he's at work." I can't wait to see how the show turns out.
____________________________ The Monaro, The GTO, & The Lumina SS - 1 Platform, 3 Great Cars - Top Gear 2004 Surprise of the Year