The BBC has a new car show to air right after Top Gear on BBC America on Monday nights (we are talking about the real Top Gear -the British Top Gear on BBC, as opposed to the junior varsity Top Gear U.S.A. on the History Channel). Sticking with the whole “gear” title theme, the new show is titled Mud, Sweat and Gears and features hosts Jonny Smith and Tom “Wookie” Ford who were hosts on BBC’s Fifth Gear. Yes, I know, that is a lot of gears.
But it is a good thing because this new car show is for true gear heads. The premise of the show is that each week Jonny and Wookie will pick a different car, and then their respective two person teams (different contestants each week) will have 24 hours to modify their cars and then compete in three races/stunts/automotive shenanigans. The loser’s team will have to watch as their car is destroyed at the end of the show SPECTACULARLY!
The cars chosen by the hosts each week need work, lots of work, in order to be able to compete in the three challenges. Each challenge usually causes a fair amount of collateral damage to the involved cars (and sometimes the drivers too) and the team needs to quickly get the car back in working order for the next event. And inevitably the next event involves FIRE!
For the premiere episode I, and my endurance racing partner, Keith Kramer, were selected to be on Wookie’s team. As the writer of the Racerboy column here on Speed:Sport:Life the producers knew some of the different types of racing I had been involved in and saw some of Krider Racing’s car builds.
Producers of Mud, Sweat and Gears saw Keith and I in action in the documentary film Double Down (available on Amazon) where they earned a podium finish at NASA’s mighty 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The producers instantly asked us to be a part of the new show. We accepted and headed to Hollywood to thrash on a car we didn’t have to pay for. The end result was Episode 1: Cops.
Unbeknownst to us, our team mentor, Wookie (in red), had chosen a beater 1977 Pontiac Firebird for us to quickly turn into a police car. We chose to change our Smokey and the Bandit special into a Mad Max Police Interceptor themed car. In the end the Firebird looked like what would have happened if Mel Gibson had butt sex with Burt Reynolds. Or maybe it should be the other way around? I guess since this is BBC I should have said buggering. Someone needs to ask Burt who is the bottom.
The car needed to be fast, it needed to be nimble and it needed to be tough. We built an exoskeleton cage for the car to make it tough and did some engine mods to make it fast. As far as making a 1977 Pontiac Firebird nimble, that would be a bit of a stretch of the imagination -more like, an impossibility. What couldn’t be resolved with mods, would have to be resolved with ludicrous fingers crossed driving.
Jonny’s team had a Jaguar, pronounced “Jag-eeew-rar” by the British hosts. The car was a nineties vintage with a fair amount of technological advances in comparison to the old Pontiac. However, the car was British so… that sort of evened things out. Jonny’s team was comprised of two siblings from Detriot, the Perkins brothers, who were SCCA road racers. So Episode 1 would be an asphalt slug fest through downtown Los Angeles, between NASA road racers from California and SCCA road racers from Detroit, driving cars disguised as police cruisers. What else could you want in a car show?
The best news for the show is it was filmed by the Top Gear crew, which gives it that awesome cinematic feel that Top Gear does so well. The other cool part about the show is the people who make it like to crash stuff. The driving in the show is legit and all of the stunts are performed by the contestants and the hosts themselves. This combination equals carnage. Which is why people will tune in every week to check out Mud, Sweat and Gears.
The landscape for Episode 1 will look very familiar to gear heads as it is the exact same location Ken Block’s latest video (Gymkhana 7) was shot at including the 6th Street Bridge and awesome moments in the L.A. River (a la scenes from car movies like Grease and The Gumball Rally).
Jalopnik scored some exclusive footage of the show revealing me drifting the 1977 Pontiac Firebird as I’m being chased down by the Jaguar through downtown Los Angeles. The footage is epic. Click HERE to read the Jalopnik story and watch the video. Tune in Monday night on BBC after Top Gear for the first episode of Mud, Sweat and Gears.