Jay Leno's Green Car Challenge Is a Travesty

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

I have a lot of non-car-enthusiast friends. When conversation moves to my work at TTAC, one of the most common responses I get is, “I’m not all that into cars, but I love Top Gear.” To which my answer is usually, “Well, you should check out TTAC because you might develop a new-found appreciation for our four-wheeled friends.” But, self-promotion aside, Top Gear may be the best thing to happen to cars since the development of the V8. The British show has simply refined the formula for pro-car propaganda to perfection. Which is why The Jay Leno Show‘s “Green Car Challengeis so galling. The segment manages to completely rip off Top Gear‘s “Star In A Reasonably-Priced Car” segment, while leaving out all of its most compelling elements. Top Gear‘s race takes place around a real track (developed by Lotus no less), making its results a compelling measure of celebrity racing ability. Plus, its use of truly pedestrian vehicles never smacks of product placement and provides an entertaining counterpoint to the pervasive images of celebrities in the latest, hottest whips. In contrast, Leno’s track is a pathetic excuse for a raceway, his car is a shameless plug for Ford and the whole spectacle is coated in an unnecessary layer of gimmickry resulting in wholly uncompelling results like this latest Rush Limbaugh-piloted run. Leno may be the closest thing America has to a Jeremy Clarkson, but his Green Car Challenge is an unmitigated travesty that does great dishonor to the comparison. Thumbs down.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

More by Edward Niedermeyer

Join the conversation
4 of 64 comments
  • Anonymous Anonymous on Sep 26, 2009

    Like I said, if Jay Leno...arguably the biggest car guy in America...doesn't think an American Top Gear would work...then it wouldn't work. And if it aired on state-controlled NBC, then there would be no Top Gear as Pelosi and the gang would have a fit over the Global Warming the show would be emitting.

  • Redwood Redwood on Sep 27, 2009

    I have a feeling that some Hollywood hack said that they needed to "spruce" up the car segment so the American audience would be interested. That's how the streamers and ping pong balls and cardboard cut outs came into play. The course is too short and it needs ACTUAL curbs, not shortcut encouraging course. They also need to show more of the celebs faces and talking (and encourage them to speak everything they're thinking). I would rather see the segment recorded so they could get some practice time in before the actual lap, but that's probably not practical for busy celebs. They would only get D list celebs if they needed people that weren't busy (much like Top Gear).

  • 95_SC 95_SC on Sep 27, 2009

    Don't forget the Lawyers. What would they do to NBC and Leno with him pushing a Veyron up the 5 at the speeds that Clarkson drove one through France. Holy Liability Batman.

  • Orian Orian on Sep 28, 2009

    OMG Truth and common sense? From Rush? That's the same as Faux news saying they are fair and balanced. As for the US viewing cars as appliances, that's years of Detroit working on us (after the 60s, anyway). That and our roads tend to be mostly straight long-distance highways whereas Europe tends to have lesser amounts of expansive straight line highways.