Ambitious? Certainly. Rubbish? Actually, this time we might just have got away with it. Less than a week to go until the opening night of Top Gear Live in Birmingham, and even hoary veterans of our arena extravaganza over the years will be hard-pressed to recognise this year’s show.
You see, we’ve now got our own indoor track. We’ve convinced a load of celebrities to race our Reasonably Priced Car around it. We’ve lined up appearances from Sabine Schmitz and Tiff Needell and some of the finest cars ever built, and we’ve even recreated our TV studio for you to play with.
Plus, of course, we’ve got the usual car-based idiocy and explosions helmed by Jeremy, James, Richard and a certain white-suited tame racing driver.
THE TOP GEAR TRACK
Yes, this year we’ve actually built our own track. Designed by Lotus Motorsport (the people behind our TV track down at Dunsfold), you’ll be able to see cars get to proper, grown-up speeds (Jeremy is particularly excited about this, and the attendant potential for mayhem).
In an 80 minute show hosted by one-time emergency Stig Tiff Needell, you’ll be able to see the actual Stig power-lapping some very special cars, a special rally stage featuring some loud and angry Group B legends and Sabine Schmitz – Queen of the Nurburgring – will be going up against a selection of guests.
There’s also a guaranteed appearance from a car that regular TopGear.commers will have seen before: the 400bhp Top Gear Taxi.
For the first time ever, you’ll also be able to watch celebrities having a crack in our Reasonably Priced C-apostrophe-D live. All of the following confirmed for one of the shows in London and Birmingham: Chris Evans, James Martin, Gethin Jones, John Barnes, Carl Fogarty, Ian Wright, Rupert Grint, Amy Williams, Jamie Theakston, Mark Cavendish and Charley Boorman.
THE LIVE ACTION ARENA SHOW
Once the track show is done, it’s onto the main arena and one hour of five-star cocking about from the three presenters.
In typical Top Gear style we’re still finalising details, but we can confirm that in a cross between Chariots of Fire and Ben Hur, Clarkson, May and Hammond will compete in the first ever Moped Charioteering Race. Designed by the boys and powered by a bank of four 125cc mopeds, each chariot features easy to misunderstand controls and is capable of ‘dangerous’ speeds.
If that’s deemed folly, how about Car Curling? Full-size cars on castors, a target and a powerful motorised sweeper operated by Captain Slow. And you’ll see some interesting uses of Morgan three-wheelers and radio controlled cars, but we won’t say more than that for now.
Oh, we can’t forget some of the finest cars in the world in a multi-million pound parade – confirmed so far are the Arash AF-10, Aston Martin DBS, Ferrari 430 Scuderia, Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Aventador, Lamborghini Countach, Lamborghini Diablo and Porsche 911 GT2 RS. And there will be more…
IS THAT IT?
No, not quite. In the middle of the exhibition we’ve built a completely faithful recreation of our shambolic TV studio, so you can poke around and snap yourselves warming the same slightly uncomfortable sofas we have to sit on.
There’s also a fully functioning Cool Wall, a whole host of cars from our challenges over the years (including the Skoda Yeti with the helicopter on its roof), and you can time yourselves around the TG tracks with a bank of consoles and Forza Motorsport 4.
There are still tickets available at the official Top Gear Live website, so head over if this is getting your root fizzing.
11-13 November 2011, Birmingham NEC
24-27 November 2011, ExCeL London
If you need your memory jogged, here’s our review of the opening night in London from last year, here are some pictures from the 2010 London show, and here are all the highlights from the Top Gear Festival in South Africa.
And if you still need persuading, here’s a video a fragile Jeremy and James made for you all from Top Gear HQ as they built up to this week’s show:
We’ll be bringing you all the first-night reviews and action on Friday on TG.com if you can’t make it down, so look out for all that this weekend…