Following their evaluation of American supercars, Team Top Gear moves on to trucks. Adam, Tanner and Rutledge are testing a trio of luxury pickups by (say it with us) putting them through a series of challenges.
Their designated meeting point is in the San Gabriel Mountains. Rutledge has chosen a brand-new Toyota Tundra, Tanner goes for the Ford F-150, and Adam brings a Dodge Ram – pretty much the cross-section of trucks you’d expect. Shocking no one, they want to race these behemoths right from the start. A five-mile sprint from their starting location to the road five miles away ends with Rutledge victorious, a disappointed Tanner, and…where’s Adam?
Rutledge: I didn’t see him, and I didn’t see anything on fire.
Following Top Gear custom, Tanner and Rut leave their missing colleague behind, and head to the City of Industry for their first official challenge, which takes place at the Malibu SpeedZone. If you’ve ever been to the SpeedZone, this is the kind of place that can realign your spine. Just as they’re debating the merits of driving a truck on the go-kart track, Adam walks over completely unruffled despite the fact that his arm is in a sling. Most people might be in some pain, or at least mildly annoyed, but not Adam, who calmly informs them that he encountered “a slight cliff.” And that’s all the explanation you’re gonna get, folks.
The task at hand is to see who can set the fastest lap of the go-kart track. Rutledge demonstrates right off the bat that manuevering a big vehicle on a small track is both difficult and comical. His lap time is 57 seconds. Tanner – who might possibly have jumped the start – learns that his driving style is at odds with the F-150′s computer. Even with a few obvious “shortcuts,” he clocks 54 seconds. Adam enlists The Stig to complete his lap, leading the other two guys to suspect that he’s faking his injury. But since the penalization of cheating seems to be entirely arbitrary on this show, why not? Stig’s time is 53.9 seconds, making Adam the winner, if not because of that, then because he now has his own chauffeur.
Adam: As I speak to you, my butt is the perfect temperature.
In Long Beach, off Ocean Boulevard – and right in the vicinity of the Grand Prix of Long Beach track, where Rutledge smoked everyone in this year’s Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race – the guys have to compete in a parking challenge, dashing from space to space. That’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that there will be three unsuspecting “typical families” who have to ride along with them. Tanner’s face pretty much says it all.
What ensues next is absolute chaos. Grandma’s walker is taken out almost immediately. The soundtrack for the next few minutes is peppered by intermittent screaming. Rutledge snags the first of two top-floor parking spaces, and The Stig beats Tanner out for the other one, forcing Race Boy to head to the downstairs parking spaces, farther away from the finish line.
Once the innocent victims get behind the wheel, the racing slows down and turns hilariously awkward. Rut’s second driver can’t even see over the Tundra’s dashboard, and The Stig doesn’t seem to enjoy being in the backseat of the Ram amongst Adam’s civilians. Ultimately, Tanner wins the challenge, while Rutledge’s Tundra never does get moving.
The third to-do this week disturbingly sees the guys come face-to-face with cardboard cutouts of themselves. These replicas are comically altered – Adam’s trademark mole has apparently mutated, Rutledge’s head seems to have grown two sizes, and Tanner is somehow even shorter. But they’re here for more than just a great joke: they’re targets as the guys try to beat the 0-60-0 stopping distance of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Fail, and they will literally run themselves over.
Mini Tanner stays alive, but Adam 2.0 dies horribly, and Rutledge Jr. just barely keeps his head. Rut is declared the winner by a matter of inches, before the guys head to Ontario International Airport for their last round of shenanigans. This is so good that the network has to put a disclaimer after the commercial break. Left to their own devices on the tarmac, our heroes engage in some airport vehicle racing, although not as brutal as that put on by Richard Hammond. The worst thing that happens to them is that Tanner somehow falls off his own ride.
But back to what we’re actually here for. The guys have to compete in an obstacle course, while towing a “heavy load” that turns out to be an entire airplane. Clearly, no one showed them the footage of Jeremy Clarkson once trying to pull an airplane with a tractor. (And this writer is crying inside, because this was the day we were supposed to be on set.) Once again, Tanner has the perfect way to sum things up.
Tanner: God, what a weird-ass thing to be doing on a Tuesday.
Rut volunteers to go first, and manages a time of 2 minutes and 26 seconds. Since Adam doesn’t have to drive his Ram, he decides to ride in the cockpit of the plane instead, and sits gleefully by as The Stig clocks a time of 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Tanner’s rabid desire to beat The Stig makes him drive particularly aggressively, and the plane almost goes sideways. But that doesn’t matter, because he doesn’t die and lands the top time of 1 minute, 42 seconds.
That’s Tanner’s second win, tying him with Rutledge for the most challenge victories overall, meaning that we don’t have a clear favorite amongst these three trucks. So what did we learn from this episode of Top Gear? If The Stig is your backup driver, it might actually be a good idea to injure yourself.