Top Gear in America

Last Sunday, Top Gear aired a 1-hour special of their road trip in the Southern United States. Their challenge was simple: buy a used car for less than $1000 in Miami and drive it all the way to New Orleans to sell it. During their road trip, they had a series of Top Gear challenges and one of them was to decorate each other’s car in a manner that would get them arrested or shot while driving in Alabama.

This is what happened:

Jeremy had decorated James’s Cadillac with slogans such as “I’m BI”, “NASCAR SUCKS” and “HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT”
James wrote “MAN-LOVE RULES OK” in Pink on Richard’s pickup and painted the headlights in pink
Richard wrote “Country & Western is Rubbish” on Jeremy’s Camaro

They were harassed on the road, but things went horribly wrong when the gang stopped at a local petrol station for refueling.

Statements like “I’m bi”, “NASCAR Sucks” and “Hillary for President” are worn like badges of pride, until a stop for gas in a self-described “hick town” turns ugly. Words were said, rocks were thrown, and somebody’s “boys” were called in. The Top Gear crew fled for its life, though not after the quickest jump in history gets Mays Caddy turned over, and the chase ensued on the highways of the rural South. The boys wise up and decide to pull over and scrub off the incendiary taunts with some towels and Coke.

The gas station they stopped at is:
State Line Pride
32485 Us Highway 90
Seminole, AL 36574
+ 1 (251) 946-2080

The Petrol station fight actually took place in rural Alabama, which is populated generally by Americans without passports, secondary schooling at most, and populations that never ever saw a real foreigner in their lives.

Their Yahoo! locals page has received more feedback since the episode aired. One would think that the owners would respond reasonably when they see a camera crew filming and threaten to sue instead of sending a group of rednecks to stone both the presenters and crew and even chase them down rural roads. It got to the point where the crew stopped filming for fear of their lives, stopped by a side of the interstate and used coke to wash off all the paint from the cars.

People would think it is actually a stupid idea to anger some locals in a deep Republican state in a historically backwards part of America. This is the region that pioneered Segregation against Black Americans with Jim Crow laws, where the Bible is taken literally, secession from the North is justified, and is the birthplace of NASCAR, which originated from the local tradition of moonshiners evading the police.

Then again, there are foreigners who don’t believe that there really are ignorant, stereotypical Americans in the United States. I am under the impression the producers thought all they would get are just homophobic or racist jibes for the decorated vehicles or trouble with the local police but nothing like a group of inbred rednecks trying to pelt them with stones and lynch them. If people think George W. Bush is a fucking idiot, what does this say about his voters, such as the rednecks from Alabama.

16 Responses to Top Gear in America

  1. Gerard Michael Burns says:

    I’m not sure anything really happened. Absolutely no violence is shown. In fact there is more evidence that what the narrarators are saying gives false portrayal than that it is true. A lot of jump cuts and dramatic running around (by the BBC crew) while dramatic menacing music accompanies the appearance of vehicles at a gas station seems like a filmaking tricks.

    There _was_ a verbal confrontation with the lady who owned the gas station, which may be genuine as far as it goes, but some of the dialog seems to indicate an antecedent incident which is unexplained.

    The narrarators say that the gas station owner said she was “gonna get the boys” (she isn’t heard saying anything of the kind), and the BBC crew is then allegedly fleeing for its life, but are able to stop and do a jump start of one of their vehicles that wouldn’t start, and then, while allegedly they are being pursued down the highway, they stop and wipe the slogans off their cars without being caught. They specifically allege at one point that rocks were thrown at the camera van, and we hear the apparent impact, but nothing is shown, and no person is ever shown raising a hand against them in any way at all.

    I suspect that this is all a lie. A simple attempt to make it look as though things happened that never did. Whether the purpose is really political, to make the US look bad, or merely mercenary, to try to make a boring TV show interesting through fakery, only the producers of this farce can ever know.

  2. lifeinmotion says:

    And some people say 9/11 was staged by the CIA…

    • Tigg says:

      I’ve driven through that area myself and YES THEY ARE LIKE THAT!!! This is the kind of area you hear people talk about hillbilly redneck backwoods where the guys sleep with their own sister while Ma and Pa clean their shotguns in their “skivvies”. The situation you saw on the show IS what happens quite often in that area and other southern backwoods locations. Don’t you dare lie to the people reading this and say it was staged till YOU drive and stop in that area with YOUR vehicle painted to say “Rednecks Suck” or “Hillbillies sleep with their sisters” and see how safely YOU get out of the area! It’s just like don’t EVER go to Chicago with a car that says “Blacks are worthless” or something like that. You WILL either be shot or beat bloody, so stop feeding your b.s. to the readers Gerard and Bogan and any others spewing unproven crap.

      • Jonathan says:

        I know this is old news but I’m from Alabama and we are nothing like the stereotypes you depict. Yes, there are plenty of stupid rednecks here, but there are also many very intelligent sophisticated people. If we are so backwoods, then why did Mercedes, Honda, and Hyundai build plants here? Why is Marshall Space Flight Center here? If I went to England and wrote equivalent offensive slogans on my car, I suspect something similar would happen. People get pissed off and do stupid violent things. How is what they did any different than the rioting that happens all over the world? Its just on a smaller scale. I can tell by the lady’s accent that she is not originally from Alabama. Our state is filled with people that moved from other states and other countries. I know people that moved here from England, China, Japan, India, and Mexico. So the stereotypes really are unfair and make no sense when you consider how different everyone is no matter what area of the world you’re talking about. I’ve traveled all over this country and no matter where you go, you’ll find assholes like this. Top Gear already had it planned that there was going to be some type of trouble given the challenge to get each presenter “shot or arrested” while in the “proud State of Alabama.” What kind of show would it be if there was no incident whatsoever? They got what they wanted.

      • edt says:

        jonathan do you realize the top gear crew imagined that the locals would say things like “oh crumpets” and “balderdash” and a few disapproving looks.

        Hammond in his autobiography states they were in fear of their lives. They never imagined that people lived like this in the USA where a few words could lead to immediate death.

        “People get pissed off and do stupid violent things”

        This is NOT NORMAL. It is not normal to threaten murder when someone says something offensive to you. It is appropriate instead to give them the middle finger and say “F* off” or if you are british “Oh Crumpets!”

        You do not know what is normal in the rest of the world. Alabama is violent and homophobic that’s all there is to it.

  3. Gerard Michael Burns says:

    Some people do say that the CIA, or the Bushies (not the same thing), or the Mossad, staged 9-11, but, while I can’t exclude some other conspiracy or foreknowledge to a scientific standard (almost no hypothesis in history can ever be excluded to a scientific standard), I have never seen any significant evidence that 9-11 was anything other than what it seemed to be, as the relatives of passengers who received phone calls in their relatives’ last moments can testify.
    That 9-11 occured in the way popularly portrayed is the only rational conclusion. Top Gear, on the other hand, showed nothing at all except narrarator’s innuendo and camera crews running.

  4. lifeinmotion says:

    People have actually called the petro store owner and she confirmed it did happen. I know a lot of people love America, but there are people in America who are like those shown on that episode.

    With that being said, your arguments mirror those used by Holocaust and Rape of Nanjing deniers. They claim that those events did not happen because they felt it was absurd and the footage only show what happen before and after but nothing in between.

    You also have to understand that Top Gear is a reality series with non-staged events. It would be unwise to deny the incident without understanding the nature of the television show.

    If you really have issues about portrayals of Americans please email Top Gear at –

    * By email/telephone
    tgweb@bbc.co.uk or call 020 8433 3598
    * By post
    TopGear.com, Woodlands, London W12 0TT

    I love America too, but those events did happen. Surely you will also deny that New Orleans is still in bad shape since they also showed the destruction and the destitution left behind in that episode where they were chased by rednecks?

    • Death in Motion says:

      Mocking a bunch of poncy Brits is in the same ballpark as the Holocaust and the Rape of Nanking?

      Top Gear stages things all the time. “Accidental” caravan fire, anyone?

      Who’s the hysteric nutjob here?

  5. The Intellectual Bogan says:

    Saw the episode in question last night.

    Whilst a lot of TG’s footage is obviously staged, the whole gas station incident and its aftermath had a very different “feel” to it from other set-ups. Didn’t really fit with the general tenor of the individual episode or the series in general.

    I can’t say it wasn’t staged, but I can’t state with any certainty that it was.

  6. lifeinmotion says:

    If there are any more questions about the lynchings in question, please call + 1 (251) 946-2080, which is the direct line to that woman who called “the boys”

  7. Tomato Spawn says:

    I am an American. I love my country. This makes me very sad. I struggle everyday with the fact that to accept my country I must accept these people as well. My favorite quote about Americans comes from Winston Churchill “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing. After they’ve done everything else.” Apparently those folks still have some ideas.:(

  8. Mary Wilson says:

    I was really saddened to see the Top Gear in the USA. The show portrays Americans as fat, stupid, angry & lazy. Of course, the incident at the gas station didn’t help any, thank you very much to those folks. :(

    I am proud to be an American. I think this is a wonderful nation & we will always try to do the right thing. We have our faults… why we can’t get NOLA up & running again is beyond me, but we are a generous people & we seem to constantly get slammed for it.

  9. Adam Eason says:

    The event was obviously staged (its a TV show after all), like everything else on the show. If anything this was done rather poorly, as there were no shots of an attack, and the “boys” truck was actually there when they were talking with the lady. Just the fact that they went there, only 30 miles from their last stop and well off of the Interstate 10 (which they had been following in Florida and which they had to get BACK ON to head to New Orleans) If there had been an attack, the show would have immediately called the police, and they cetainly wouldn’t have “made a run for the border,” considering they were less than five miles from Florida (not that a border would mattered if they were being really chased). Been to the gas station myself, its about 12 minutes outside Pensacola, and the person working at the time (not the same woman shown) laughed about it. Apparently its gotten them some fame. According to her, the woman on television had gotten angry with them for their filming, and the show ran with it to make it look like everyone there was attacking them, but the counter clerk I talked to admitted she didn’t know for sure, as it happened a couple of years ago. Also, might be a BIT of a stretch to compare those with my opinion with Holocaust and Rape of Nanking deniers. A difference in scale and severity there.

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