If you even have a single cell in your body that has some affinity for automobiles you probably already know about the British car show, Top Gear. If, for some reason you’ve missed it – perhaps while traveling to another planet; in a long-term drug-induced stupor; or serving an extended prison sentence – you owe it to yourself to rectify the situation by checking it out. In my onion, it’s the best English-language car show in the world. The BBC is also threatening to cancel it or, at least, tone it down (which would ruin it).
The problem is that once in a while, the team that puts the show together does some
stupid dangerous educational things to enlighten their audience about automobiles and their capabilities. In late September, one of the hosts, Richard Hammond, was trying to break the British land speed record in a jet-powered dragster. He apparently had successfully set a new record of about 315mph right before he crashed and almost killed himself. As of now, he still is in bad shape, but is apparently improving.
The show has been under attack for many years by people who believe that it promotes fast and dangerous driving. The groups that stand against it are pushing the BBC to remove it from the air now with Hammond’s accident being the last straw. Come to think of it, when I heard that Hammond went faster than 300mph, I wanted to hit the streets and try to do it as well . . . right.
Jay Leno wrote an article in The Times this past Sunday pleading for the show to be kept around. Leno complains that “car shows in America are dull,” and eloquently points out that without shows like Top Gear, where will kids get the idea that ingenuity, inventiveness and engineering feats of magic are really cool. OK, perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch, but the show is thoroughly enjoyable and it wasn’t like some 18 year old strapped a jet engine to his Mini Cooper, it was a guy on the show that did it.
I think the show is brilliantly done by smart, well-spoken people who cut right to the core of what automotive enthusiasts love about cars.
Below is a randomly picked episode of Top Gear which, like virtually all episodes, is terrific. It should demonstrate what I’m talking about. There are plenty more on YouTube, if you’re interested.