Top Gear Thursday: Richard’s Career as a Barber – Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Barbershop Quartet: Richard and the Levels Barbershop crew – Tony “Tony Touch” Harrison, Enrico “Rico” Charles and Mario David. (BBC America)

Could the two professions of barber and helicopter test pilot be any more different? Aside from the use of the word “blade” and the phrase “take off” (and even that’s stretching it), we couldn’t think of any similarities. But Richard Hammond is trying his hand at both jobs next week on Crash Course.

Richard has proven time and again that he can operate heavy machinery, but how does he do with scissors? We’ll see how he did at Harlem’s Levels Barbershop in New York.

Then, it’s on to Torrance, California where Richard’s going to be working in the Robinson Helicopter Factory. Specifically, he’s going to be building and testing a new R66 Turbine. This is a job in which the Hamster may have the inside track: he’s the proud owner of a Robinson R44 helicopter. But ask yourself: just because you know how to drive a car, does that mean you’d be any good at building one? (Oh, if you’re having trouble with the analogy, you can just substitute the word “fly” for “drive” and the word “helicopter” for “car”. Just don’t get confused if you don’t know how to fly a helicopter.)

The barber/helicopter test pilot episode of Richard Hammond’s Crash Course premieres Monday Nov. 19, 10p/9c.

• This week’s Crash Course presented Richard with a challenge that, writes MacKenzie Wilson on the show’s blog, “was his toughest yet.” You wouldn’t think that working in an IndyCar pit crew would be a stretch for Richard – even he thought his Top Gear background would help him out. “Finally, a job that should be in my comfort zone,” he said. Let’s just say the Hamster was in for a rude awakening. It turns out that it’s kind of like the car/helicopter analogy above: just because you can drive fast cars doesn’t mean that you know how to maintain them in seconds flat as they roll in to a pit stop in the middle of a speedway as they’re competing against dozens of other super fast cars.

And talk about stress: Richard had to learn how to change a tire in six seconds or less. He was under more pressure than the heavily inflated racing tires themselves.

But Dragon Racing crew chief Didier Francesia, who is a big fan of Top Gear (“When I say ‘fan,’ I really, really love that show.”), had words of praise for Richard: “He struggled a little bit in the beginning, which is totally normal,” the pit boss told BBC America. “But after we worked together for about an hour, his times improved and his motions were more natural.”

• For those of you who think you have infinite patience, you might want to test yourselves with Crash Course’s “sneak peak scrambles.” They’re like web versions of sliding square puzzles, or like Rubik’s cubes with photos on them. However you describe them, they’re difficult. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Click here to go to this week’s IndyCar puzzle, and click here for all the rest of season two’s puzzles, including next week’s barber and helicopter test pilot versions.

Richard’s pit stop puzzle – before. (BBC America)

Richard’s pit stop puzzle – after. (BBC America)

• And if you’ve missed any Crash Course episodes, or want to see any of them again, or you want to tell your friends how to see them – in short – if you want to know all there is to know about when, where and how to watch Crash Course, this is the link for you.

• Can you imagine a world without Top Gear? No, we can’t either. And, apparently, neither can Top Gear. Because next week’s show, Top Gear Apocalypse, is about the end of the world as we know it. Except that in the show’s end of days scenario, Top Gear appears to be one of the fortunate survivors. It’s not so much a world without Top Gear as much as it is Top Gear without the world.

If the human race survives until then, Top Gear Apocalypse premieres on Monday, November 19 at 8:30p/7:30c.

• There’s been a Top Gear sighting here in the U.S. this week. Autoblog says it picked up the trails of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond via Clarkson’s tweets.

“Judging by some grainy Twitter pics,” writes Autoblog, the trio were in Las Vegas and “set to drive cross-country in a Lexus LFA, SRT Viper and Aston Martin Vanquish.”