Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Top Gear: Who Are The New Guys?

"It's like you're always stuck in second gear..."

If you are a car guy (and gal), chances are by now you will have May 29th circled on your calendar in anticipation of the Top Gear... Er, reboot? Instead of Clarkson & Co who are on to Amazon for greener pastures, the new show will feature six new hosts and the Stig, ranging from famous British personalities, an American (gasp!), to a number of other guys that nobody else but car enthusiasts seem to know.

For people state-side, it would be understandable if most people take the new Top Gear as Joey Tribbiani's actual big break since... Whatever that was.

So on this weekend, before you sit in front of your telly (if you are in the UK) or in front of your computer (if you are basically everywhere else) furiously refreshing the BitTorrent page looking for the new episode, here's a little handy who's who guide for your reference:

Chris Evans
Note to Chris: Avoid strawberries before taping. 

Who is he? A widely popular British radio presenter on Radio 1. Known Ferrari collector. No, he is not Captain America.
Who is he to us? Um... A guy the BBC seemed to have employed to keep the Brits happy. He also seem to have been chosen on the merit that he most resembles Jeremy Clarkson in terms of generating controversy. And no, he is not Captain America.
In all seriousness: Chris Evans is and will continue to be a controversial choice for Top Gear presenter. Supporters will note that he has a habit of churning out successful BBC programmes in the past, and cynics will point out that he doesn't seem to be a hardcore car guy that people look for in a TG-presenter, despite his owning of several million-pound Ferraris. First reports indicate that it was not going too well -- however, only time will tell.
Notable (car) thing that he did: He let James May drive his 250GT California on an older episode of Top Gear. He also appeared in Star in a Reasonably Priced Car a while back. He also can't seem to handle Sabine's driving.

Matt LeBlanc
Chandler doesn't seem to be too supportive of Joey doing a show in the UK.

Who is he? Emmy-nominated Sitcom actor. Biggest Porsche enthusiast since Seinfeld (see image on right).
Who is he to us? Everyone's favorite pick-up line if you grew up in the 90s.
In all seriousness: All-around nice guy Matt LeBlanc is turning Top Gear into a real-life version of Episodes. We in the US will like him because we know him very well. For Brits, the fact that there is an American presenter in a British national treasure prime-time TV show would be... Actually, it wasn't quite as controversial as we had originally expected. From early trailers, it looks like he is fitting in just fine (no pun intended). Going forward, there will likely be no shortage of Friends-inspired gifs going forward.
Notable (car) thing that he did: "It's Porsche-a!"

Chris Harris
Chris Harris at work.

Who is he? Automotive journalist who used to write for Autocar and EVO Magazine. Owns a very popular YouTube channel where he slides around corners a lot.
Who is he to us? Automotive-drift God. Miata-hater. (we tend to ignore that)
In all seriousness: If you are a hardcore car-guy, this is the TG-presenter that you have been waiting for as soon as you find out that Clarkson & Co are on their way out. His YouTube channel has been frankly brilliant and of superb, Top Gear-like production quality since Day 1. He also races vintage cars and owns a Citroen 2CV and a BMW E28 M5. You can't go wrong with a guy like that. Also, have I mentioned that he is a drift God? Yeah, I am sorry but I couldn't contain my excitement.
Notable (car) thing that he did: When he drove a McLaren P1 against a Porsche 918 and a LaFerrari with some pretty good drivers behind the wheel.

Sabine Schmitz
Sabine doing what she does best.

Who is she? A German taxi driver of some sorts.
Who is she to us? The Nurburgring hero everyone wants to meet.
In all seriousness: Sabine Schmitz is a professional racing driver who grew up in a small German village called Nürburg. She was the first woman to win the 24 hours of Nürburgring. Twice. In a row. She chauffeurs people around the Nurburgring in a BMW M5 in her spare time and eats Porsches and Ferraris for breakfast. She also doesn't give any consideration for any TV idiot. No way.
Notable (car) thing that she did: She also did this in a Ford Transit van. She is awesome.

Eddie Jordan
Eddie Jordan is the early front-runner for the "Most solemn-looking presenter" awards.

Who is he? Chief analyst for BBC Sport's Formula One coverage.
Who is he to us? Retried former racing driver from Ireland. He also happens to be the owner of the awesome Jordan F1 team in the 90s and early 2000's, with Damon Hill and some bloke called Michael Schumacher.
In all seriousness: We on the other side of the pond will not have seen much of his F1 coverage. However, kids who, like me. grew up in the 90s will remember his bright yellow Honda Formula 1 cars through other media. Based on his rich resumes when it comes to car racing, he is a card-carrying, jacket-wearing member of the Petrolhead club.
Notable (car) thing that he did: He owned a bloody F1 team.

Rory Reid
Rory would be a close-second in the "Most solemn-looking presenter" awards.

Who is he? According to Wikipedia, he is an automotive journalist and TV presenter who has done work for CNET, Sky, and BBC Radio 5.
Who is he to us? ... We don't quite know.
In all seriousness: Rory Reid is a bit of an unknown across the pond. He apparently won over the producers at BBC after sending a 30-second audition clip and he is pegged to be co-presenting Top Gear's mini-spinoff, Extra Gear, with Chris Harris. The show apparently will focus on bringing more behind-the-scenes content, which will certainly be interesting to see. Looking at his presenter showreel, he certainly does have experience doing creative stuff with cars in the past.
Notable (car) thing that he did: He once tried to cram people into a Lotus Exige S. It went about as well as you'd imagine.

The Stig

Some say that his identity has already been revealed... All we know is, he's called the Stig.

So, will you be watching the new Top Gear when it airs, or will you be waiting for Clarkson, Hammond, and May in the fall?

Top Gear will air on May 29 (Sunday) at 8pm GMT.

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