So where is the new test track for our friends, Jeremy, James and the Hamster? It’s RAF Wroughton, just outside of Swindon, which hasn’t been used by the Royal Air Force for decades now. It still has two fully-maintained runways, along with a few hangars, as well as an old lady’s house. These days, it also houses a science museum, a karting track (!), and now, The Grand Tour.
Whereas the old Top Gear test track was simply known as the Top Gear test track, The Grand Tour is calling this iteration “the Eboladrome,” because it’s shaped like Ebola. Clarkson referred to its location as “top secret,” but the trivia feed on Amazon said that “if you’re quite interested, it’s near Swindon.”
The show apparently filmed there back in October, according to local news outlet Swindon24. Our first look at it came last night, with new non-Stig and former NASCAR driver Mike Skinner thrashing a BMW M2 around the track.
The once-and-current Top Gear test track was at Dunsfold Aerodrome, also a former RAF base, just outside Surrey.
After a disappointing revamped 23rd Season of BBC’s Top Gear and an agonizingly long wait, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May finally returned in their brand-new and obscenely well-funded Amazon Prime motoring show, The Grand Tour. And it just picked up right where the trio’s Top Gear narrative ended.
To many of us, all we ever wanted out of The Grand Tour was a proper return to form from what the Trio’s Top Gear show used to be. For others, we were hoping it would give the hosts and producer Andy Wilman a chance to try something new. Some freedom to explore new concepts, the ability to do things they never could do on a BBC hour-long show.
They didn’t. The first episode of The Grand Tour was a fun return to form, but for the most part, it was nothing we hadn’t seen before.
The main narrative of Episode One was the trio finally getting their hands on the “Holy Trinity” of hypercars: The La Ferrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918. That’s exactly what they had been trying to do on Top Gearbefore Jeremy Clarkson ruined everything over a cold-cut.
After the first show, you won’t wonder how in the heck Amazon could be reportedly spending $5 million per episode.
Here’s why: its unappealing name Grand Tour refers to the fact that the studio segment anchoring the BBC version has been replaced by a huge tent which will be placed in a different country each week. Episode 1 has the tent and the audience in Dry Rabbit Lake in the Mojave Desert in California. (That’s in the middle of nowhere, I assure you). Next week, Johannesburg, South Africa. That much relocation gotta cost. Also, the show has its own racetrack (which we’re told passes next to an undetonated World War II bomb).
Wait, there’s more! The show is filmed Ultra HD, which means hypercars exploding around tracks positively breathtaking. Great start guys!
On a warm and sunny morning in Burbank, CA, I had the honor to meet and converse with the legendary, Parnelli Jones at book signing at Autobooks.
I’ve been fortunate to meet the man (now 83 and oldest living Indy 500 winner), a couple of times over the years and he has always been kind and willing to sign anything. The occasion was the release of the “Trans-Am Era” by Daniel Lipetz. Also, special thanks to Marc Vaughn, Senior West Coast Editor for Autoweek, for taking the picture for me.
All Artwork and photography taken by mymotorways.com
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Artwork and original photography taken at COTA (Austin).
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