Is Speedway Of Nations On Tv? [Expert Guide!]

Most casual TV viewers probably know that ‘The Grand Tour’ is a popular series that combines elements of car-related TV programs (such as drag-racing and classic car rallies) with an exploration of some of the world’s best-known cities. The six-part series, which was first broadcast in the UK in 2018, has already been picked up for American TV and is set to air stateside later this year. But what about the rest of us who aren’t familiar with the show? Is there anything else we should know about car-themed programming (and what should we avoid if we want to keep our precious family jewels safe)? Let’s take a look.

The Grand Tour Has Been Around For A While

The Grand Tour is the creation of Richard Hammond and James May (most famous for his work on The ‘Hammond Can Jam’ and ‘Fastest Car’ shows), who have been creating content for TV channels ever since the 1970s. Since then, they’ve gone on to become two of the most recognizable faces in British television. The show’s format was originally inspired by their live radio show The ‘Hammond Deviation’ (which debuted in 2001 and continues to this day), and it was originally envisioned as a way to bring the excitement of car culture to life in a non-sports setting. Thus, many of the cars featured on The ‘Grand Tour’ are not actual competition cars, but instead are recreations or models that the pair have built and then driven (usually at high speeds) during the show’s filming. (Fans of the show will recognize this because a lot of the stunts and car crashes involve the vehicles in question.)

It’s Mostly Been Done In Europe

With the possible exception of Paris-based ‘Auto Aune’, the cars and motor vehicles that appear on most non-American car-related TV shows are imported from Europe, with Italian and German cars particularly prominent. It’s not that there aren’t any locally-made cars featured in these shows; it’s that the bulk of them are American classics that have been shipped across the pond for the purpose of being featured in a ‘rat race’ or other similar competitions. (In fact, the whole nation of Italy is famous for its automobile industry, which is why so many cars appear on TV there.)

There is one notable exception to this trend: the French-made Citroen C-crosser, which was first featured in an episode of the American series ‘Knight Rider’ in 1982. Since then, this unusual vehicle (which features a rotating hood that opens up to reveal a hidden engine) has been immortalized in numerous TV shows and movies, helping to make it one of the most recognizable automotive icons in modern culture. (Citroen produced only 2,500 C-crossers between 1978 and 1982. Today, there are only around 400 remaining.)

Most Of The Episodes Are Accompanied By A Song

Since the 1970s, The ‘Hammond Deviation’ has been a stalwart of the British radio landscape, and the accompanying music has always been a significant part of the show. (Most notably, the series was originally accompanied by Barry White’s ‘Dreaming Of A Dream’ and David Bowie’s ‘Heroes.’) It wasn’t until 2018 that this aspect of the show was finally brought to TV. Up until that point, the live-recorded radio shows that featured White’s song had been the highest-profile examples of the phenomenon, but for some reason they decided to amp up the pop soundtrack even more for the series’ move to TV. (They also added a bunch of new songs, but we’ll get to that in a bit.)

There is one important difference between the radio show and the TV series: while the radio show is totally unscripted and reacts to whatever happens during the conversation (hence why most of the music is there to accompany it), the TV show is more or less entirely scripted and there’s a lot less room for spontaneity. This means that a lot of the songs that appear in the show (especially the newer ones) were specifically chosen to accompany specific moments during filming. This probably explains why most of them are so generic and forgettable.

It Features A Lot Of Stunts

If you’re unfamiliar, The ‘Grand Tour’ is a very chaotic show. In fact, the very first episode (which aired in 2018 and focused on the London Olympics) opens with a rather amusing montage of some of the cars involved in the stunt scenes (complete with cars crashing into each other and people getting hit by vehicles).

It also features some of the most iconic car accidents in history, including the one where Mike Hailwood (the ‘Grand Tour’ star himself) crashes his Ferrari 512 MTC into a wall at full speed (watch the full video below). It would be remiss of us not to mention the show’s very frequent use of helicopters, which is pretty common when you have two world-famous car enthusiasts racing through the streets of London (or any other major city for that matter).

The show’s rapid-fire editing and high-speed driving help to make for some pretty exciting (if slightly chaotic) viewing. Just remember to keep your eyes open!

Some Of The Cars Have Strange Names

Hammond and May aren’t the only ones responsible for creating some of the world’s most recognizable cars: the team also have names for many of the cars they’ve built, particularly if they’re involved in some kind of competition (such as a race or stunt). For example, the first few episodes of the show feature what appears to be a Triumph TR3 (which, despite its name, is actually a version of the Mini Cooper), a BMW 2002 (known as the ‘Alpina’ in Germany), and a TVR Sagaro (which, as its name would suggest, is a sporty version of the original Rolls-Royce).

These cars all have models or variations that share the same name as the cars they’re based on (in some cases, completely different cars). The exception is the Ferrari 512 MTC, which is named after the machine it was designed to replace, the 512 Monterrey (MTC stands for ‘Mille Trecorari’ or ‘Mille Testa Caterina’ in Italian — ‘Heads’ Nelson in English.) This is probably the part where we have to remind anyone thinking about importuning this particular car that there’s no such thing as a ‘safe’ imported vehicle. They can all have some sort of problem that the manufacturer or importer hadn’t planned on, which can sometimes lead to serious accidents or damage. (This is particularly true of older models, so if this is a consideration for anyone buying a vintage car, make sure you do your research first.)

The Cars Are Great But The Sets Are Scary

As already mentioned, most of the cars featured on this show are not actually that good (in terms of actual racing performance or on-screen acrobatics) — they’re mostly just there to look cool. (This is especially true of the replicas and models that the two have built themselves; the actual competition cars are very underwhelming in comparison.)

The reason for this is simple: cars are dangerous. We get it, they’re dangerous, they’re noisy, they consume fossil fuels, and (in the case of some of the older models) they can be a little unsafe to drive. In fact, some of the cars that the two have featured in the past have been known to be completely unwieldy and difficult to handle, which is probably why they haven’t been exported to other countries in large numbers. (Some of the models that the two have built are pretty outlandish in comparison to any road-going vehicle — think Godzilla fighting a Space Monster with a Ferrari 255 GTO.)

The sets, meanwhile, are a thing of beauty. They’re mostly shot in London (with occasional forays into other major cities in Europe), and they serve as both the backdrop and, in many cases, the star of the show. (This last part is especially true of the Olympic track in London where Hammond and May often come in for some pretty harsh braking and cornering — it would be unsafe not to mention expensive to film this stuff in a controlled environment like a studio.)

Another factor that makes The ‘Grand Tour’ stand out among other similar shows is its in-depth coverage of some of the world’s greatest cities. (Yes, it covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, but that’s half the fun.) While there’s certainly a lot of focus on cars and driving in general, there is also a sense that you’re visiting these places and getting to know the locals (which, of course, adds to the immersion factor). The show also does an incredible job of evoking the atmosphere of each city (whether it’s New York, London, or another major European metropolis), making it feel like you’re actually there.

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