Emerging from the ashes of his failed bid to host the US version of Top Gear, auto-enthusiast/comedian Adam Carolla brought his own attempt at an entertaining program for the Speed Channel (Wednesday 10PM EST) for the niche viewer group of auto enthusiasts. The four hosts presenting the information are, abrasive and controversial comedian Adam Carolla as main host, inputting his own opinions and experiences as an amateur racer and enthusiast, mixing in a bit of his style of comedy to help “lighten the mood.” With him are ex-NBA stat John Salley, who tries to add a non-expert take on topics. Dan Neil, a respected American journalist with a lifetime of experience with cars, and Matt Farah, a successful automotive video journalist.
The four combine to give a diverse cavalcade of different perspectives on various topics, ranging from privately entering and racing in the “24 hours of LeMons” race, in Reno, Nevada which is an endurance race featuring lemons (subpar cars) pitted against each other (and themselves) to see which can run the longest. To a “Rush Hour Road Race,” which pitted AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson, in a Lamborgini, against the hosts using other modes of transportation, during rush hour, in Manhattan, to see which was the quickest. I don’t need to tell you who won. We also witnessed the team try to teach several young ladies how to operate a manual transmission in a Dodge Viper ACR. “A sight to see,” to say the very least. In another episode, Dan Neal did a critique of the new Nissan Leaf, the world’s first mass market electric car in San Francisco, pointing out the pros and cons of the car that could, very well, change the automotive world as we know it. There was also an interview with New Zealand racing legend Steve Millen, who discussed his family’s racing history, including his own career-ending accident in 1993 after a collision with a Ferrari at Watkins Glen. The hosts also presented us with some used car buying advice, reminiscent of BBC Top Gear of yore (uninteresting to most, except the dedicated auto enthusiast or to those in search for a new vehicle.)
Some of the segments can be interpreted as “sexist” and Adam Carolla’s humor often times seems a bit “extreme,” which can be a turn off to some people. The show can also be a bit harsh and seems to mock different sects of the enthusiast subculture a bit too often.
Needless to say, “Te Car Show” offers a blend of entertainment and information, and, while tenacious at times, appears to balance itself out.