Top Gear Thursday: ‘Top Gear’ Down Under

Flying motorcycles are nothing unusual at Top Gear Live Festivals. (Top Gear Festival Sydney)

Flying motorcycles are nothing unusual at Top Gear Live Festivals. (Top Gear Festival Sydney)

Sometimes life here in these United States is depressing. First, we carry the burden of empire (something with which our British cousins have more than a passing acquaintance). Then there’s obesity, which we didn’t invent but many people would argue we’ve perfected. Oh, and don’t forget the prison-industrial complex.

But those national shortcomings pale in comparison to one other area in which we have a major and, apparently, intractable deficiency. It’s our national dishonor, our country’s shame – we don’t have Top Gear Live in the U.S.

Yes, we do have the TV show, the most watched factual program in the world, hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. But Top Gear Live, or Top Gear Festival as it is called in certain places, is a roadshow version of the program that brings the above-mentioned triumvirate and their white-suited mystery sidekick The Stig in the flesh to a stadium performance.

Among the madcap antics that you’re likely to see at a Top Gear Live or Festival event are moped chariot races, car curling, and Reliant Robin acrobatics. 2012’s Top Gear Live in Durban, South Africa even saw the setting of a world record — the first-ever double loop-the-loop in a car.

On your marks. (Top Gear Festival Sydney)

On your marks. (Top Gear Festival Sydney)

Next Monday, August 26 at 8:30p/7:30c, you’ll have a great opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. That’s when BBC AMERICA premieres Top Gear’s Sydney Special, which captures the craziness of the Top Gear Festival that was held there a few months back. In addition to cars versus planes, and humans (runners) versus cars, there’s order versus chaos — and this being Top Gear, there’s little surprise which participant in the latter matchup turns out to be the winner.

Here’s how James and Jeremy promo-ed the Sydney Festival when they were doing Top Gear Live in Finland. It’s a classic example, on Jeremy’s part, of underselling.

Australian comedian and actor Shane Jacobson took the opposite approach in his YouTube video announcing the Festival:

And to further whet your appetite for the zaniness of Top Gear’s Sydney special, take a look at these Festival highlights:

• Have you enjoyed thinking about the all-important question raised by this week’s Top Gear, namely, what’s the worst car in the history of the world? Over at BBC Autos, editors have been following up on some of the leads raised by the show, so you’ll want to take a look at what they’ve come up with. It’s still hard to envision some of the choices – like an actual Rolls-Royce or a Ferrari (both in photos below) – even being considered for the list, but there you go. The BBC and Top Gear just don’t believe in conventional wisdom.

1972 Rolls-Royce Corniche (BBC Autos)

1972 Rolls-Royce Corniche (BBC Autos)

1996 Ferrari F50 (BBC Autos)

1996 Ferrari F50 (BBC Autos)

• With all the controversy over governmental use of drones, international security analysts seem to have overlooked one hypothetical scenario — and, as you’ll see, it isn’t so hypothetical anymore — what if The Stig got control of a drone? Always one step ahead of everyone else, TopGear.com investigated that very development:

• You may think about getting some of the same types of cars that the hosts of Top Gear drive. But if you want to buy one of the actual cars that one of the hosts has owned, Saturday could be your lucky day. A black 1999 Jaguar XRJ, owned and driven by none other than Jeremy Clarkson, is being auctioned off this weekend in the town of King’s Lynn, in Norfolk, on England’s east coast. The Lynn News reports that it’s likely to sell for a price between £2,500 ($3,900) and £4,500 ($7,000).

Clarkson and his (former) Jag. (Lynn News)

Clarkson and his (former) Jag. (Lynn News)