Top Gear USA host says show's stunts are dangerous

Top Gear USA co-hosts (from far left) Rutledge Wood, Adam Ferrara and Tanner Foust.
Top Gear USA co-hosts (from far left) Rutledge Wood, Adam Ferrara and Tanner Foust.PHOTO: KIX AND KIX HD

Top Gear USA co-host Tanner Foust says the show is not just about fun and games

Make no mistake, Top Gear USA is a dangerous show.

Co-host and professional driver Tanner Foust says the danger comes not only from having to improvise stunts, but also from the fun the three presenters have on the motoring television show.

It is the American version of the popular British show of the same name, which used to star Jeremy Clarkson.

Foust says: "A lot of times, the stunts we try on the show are invented by producers who sit in cubicles in airconditioned buildings in Los Angeles and they have no idea what danger really is.

"But when you have three guys, who love driving, driving around in cars they don't own, they start crashing into one another and things inevitably get pretty dangerous."

The 41-year-old has been co-hosting Top Gear USA along with car analyst Rutledge Wood and comedian Adam Ferrara since the first season in 2010.

Season 4 will air on KIX (StarHub TV Channel 518) and KIX HD (Singtel TV Channel 309) every Tuesday at 9pm, starting tomorrow.

Foust, an American who grew up in Scotland, says he has loved cars since he was five, but never thought he could make a living out of it.

But that changed when he became inspired after working for an inventor of amusement park rides in his last year at the University of Colorado.

"I never knew somebody could do just his hobby for his work; that he could take his passion and make it into his job."

He graduated with a degree in molecular biology when he was 23. But instead of going on to medical school, he volunteered as a mechanic working on Formula One cars.

"I wanted to see if I could make a living racing cars, so I worked as a mechanic on a race team, in return for seat time in the cars," he says.

"I was a terrible mechanic - the joke with the team was that I needed to do the job fast enough, so I could do it over again."

But he eventually earned enough credit to race and get his racing licence, and his racing career took off.

As a professional racer since 2003, he has won three US rallycross championships and four X Games Rally titles.

It is the nuts and bolts of the sport, not the fame and glamour, that appeals to him, he says. Learning about technical aspects, such as car modifications and drifting techniques, makes him tick.

He says: "I race to learn, I learn at every race. I am a complete student of car control and speed and I love learning about them.

"The types of driving I enjoy are maybe a bit more chaotic than the rhythmic nature of road racing. I have huge respect for the racers in the World Rally Championship and that would be the ultimate dream, just to drive rally cars."

Besides racing, the daredevil was a stunt driver in popular films such as Iron Man 2 (2010), The Bourne Legacy (2012) and Fast And Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), and a world record holder for the longest distance jumped in a four-wheeler in 2011.

Driving in a $350,000 McLaren 12C sports car from New York to Los Angeles for the first episode of Top Gear USA was the highlight of the season for Foust.

He says: "Something I had always wanted to do was drive a supercar across the US, which is more than 3,000 miles (4,830km).

"We did a four-day road trip, during which we drove three of the quickest supercars across the country - through snow and rain and over mountains and through deserts - it was absolutely spectacular."

Given how much the three hosts compete against one another, he jokes that he is surprised they are still on speaking terms.

"The great thing about this show is really just about three guys having fun being themselves," he says.

"We still like one another, which is amazing. And we still have a lot of fun with the cars and it's been a really successful show in the US, which we're very happy about."

mzlim@sph.com.sg

Top Gear USA 4 airs on KIX (StarHub TV Channel 518) and KIX HD (Singtel TV Channel 309) on Tuesdays at 9pm, starting tomorrow.