An American version of Top Gear is about to ride again. BBC America announced today that it has greenlit a new version of the show called Top Gear America. The show will be hosted by actor William Fichtner (The Dark Knight, Contact, Armageddon), professional drag racer Antron Brown, and British automotive journalist Tom Ford. Eight one-hour episodes will air on BBC America sometime later this year, according to the network.
BBC America’s announcement is light on details, but it sounds like the new show will hew close to the typical Top Gear format with a focus on American car culture:
Top Gear America reviews not just exclusive and state-of-the-art vehicles but also the cars of America’s culture defining past. From the latest supercars to the ultimate in automotive engineering technology, Top Gear America puts the viewer in the passenger seat alongside the car-obsessed hosts as they race the most incredible vehicles on the scenic highways and historic tracks of the American west. Each week will feature a different celebrity who will compete for top honor on the leader board at the new Top Gear studio and track, Speed Vegas. Of course, the one and only Stig, Top Gear’s mysterious test driver, will be leaving everyone in his petrol-hazed wake.
The news comes just a few weeks after the UK version of Top Gear restarted with hosts Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, and Rory Reid. The show had used a rotating cast of hosts in the previous season, following the unceremonious departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May — the show’s most famous hosting trio, who are now on Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour.
Top Gear America is the latest attempt to make the famous British car show stick in the United States. The most recent was Top Gear USA, which was made by A&E Networks, aired on the History Channel for five seasons, and was canceled last summer. That iteration of the show was hosted by comedian Adam Ferrara, Rallycross driver Tanner Foust, and NASCAR on NBC host Rutledge Wood.
Top Gear USA garnered lukewarm reviews and ratings, but survived longer than many people expected, based on previous attempts to import the show. In 2005, for example, the Discovery Channel filmed a pilot for an American version of Top Gear that was never picked up.
BBC America is already the Stateside home for the UK version of Top Gear, which airs on a one-week delay from the British air date. By reclaiming the American version of Top Gear, the network will air two versions of the same show by year’s end. It’s an odd move when you consider that car shows are hard to come by in the United States — the best ones are often only online, buried on obscure networks found deep in cable packages, or long dead.