Before I get into one of the how I got interviewed to be the next host of Top Gear USA, which is one of the weirdest things that’s ever happened to me, here’s a little background:
I’m Scott Huntington, an automotive writer who spews thoughts about cars across the internet. Sure, I’ve written for some decent sites, like Yahoo Autos, Hooniverse, GT Spirit, and am a regular contributor at some smaller places like Car Revs Daily, The Mustang Source, and several others. And while you may have accidentally read something I’ve spewed out like this or perhaps this, you’ve likely never heard of me. After all, this is what I drive:
This has to be a joke, right?
On July 25, I checked this site’s email for the first time in about a month. There was 13-day-old message waiting for me, saying:
Right away, I figured this was either a spammer (Hello I need to send you a great sum of money please provide me your bank account) or a friend playing a joke on me. There’s no way it could be real. Besides, Top Gear USA was just cancelled. This was a pretty pathetic attempt at getting my information, and I almost typed out a trolling response. Instead, I just said “What’s up?”
To my surprise, he responded.
Lol, ok, right. This is exactly the type of thing I would have sent if I was trolling somebody. It’s one “Dear Webmaster” away from being the most obviously mail-merged response ever. Especially the bold and caps of HOST and TOP GEAR USA. That link in the bottom even goes to an article saying that the show was cancelled. C’mon, man.
I again resisted the urge to respond sarcastically, so instead just asked how he found me and what all would be involved with this role. His response finally got me a little curious. He said that he had been searching for “best car YouTube channels 2016” and that’s how he came across me.
Ok, that actually makes sense. If you do a Google search for “best car YouTube channels 2016,” my article is in the number one spot, right over Jalopnik. (Suck it, Jason Torchinsksnskseky).
He also said that he enjoyed my videos. This was doubtful too, because I’ve only put a few super low quality ones up as a placeholder to at least have something there until I have more time to focus on YouTube. They’re edited with Windows Movie Maker (the PT Cruiser of software) and make Doug Demuro look like Wes Anderson.
Still, my curiously got the best of me and I started to look into this more. The guy’s phone number was an L.A. area code, and some quick searches showed him with addresses there and Hollywood. He also had an IMDB profile that showed him as a casting director for several other shows, and had been responding to my messages right away. If this was a prank, it was quite impressive. I figured I had nothing to lose, and agreed to the Skype interview, scheduled for the next day.
My interview with Top Gear USA
I did absolutely nothing to prepare for this, as I was still somewhat convinced that it was a joke, or that it was a hacker who was just doing this to take control of my webcam. Right before the call though, I got strangely nervous. The kind of nervous I get before doing standup comedy, where all of a sudden I’m doubting absolutely everything about myself. I didn’t have much time to feel that way, as the Skype jingle jolted me back to reality and I answered to see the guy I had been Google searching on the other end.
He first asked if I had any questions, and even though I had a million I said “no not yet” as I expected him to explain what the heck was going on. But he said “Ok we’ll get started then, just make sure to look directly into the camera and speak clearly.”
Holy crap! This wasn’t just an interview… it was an audition! I am seriously auditioning to be the host of Top Gear right now. What the heck???
The questions were pretty straight forward. Favorite/least favorite car, favorite road trip, what was your most sublime drive (quick, try and remember the definition of sublime, all I can think of is the band), and general car-related questions. I handled them well, but later kicked myself for not going into more detail.
Next were questions about Top Gear itself, where I see the future of it, and how I could contribute. I tried to put the emphasis on not being a “born-and-raised car guy”, and that I knew how to relate to people who were watching the show that weren’t total gearheads. And that I could bring a dose of humor and be somebody that people haven’t already seen a million times. I also went into a bit about how TV shows like this should be made for being watched on the internet, because that’s how people are consuming them.
He said that they were looking to have 5 or 6 different hosts, and he agreed with me that it should be in different “sections” so that people can watch the parts they want to watch. It looks like they’re trying to get a YouTuber, professional driver, someone more mechanical, and a few other categories of host.
As for the Network™? He said that they did indeed have one, but since it wasn’t officially announced yet he couldn’t tell me.
At the end of the interview, I admitted that at first I thought it was a joke. He just laughed and said “Yeah. Jeff Gordon’s people said the same thing.”
So yeah. They were interviewing people like Jeff Gordon… and me.
After the interview
I knew there was about a 0% chance that I was what they were looking for, but an editor of one of the sites I write for would be absolutely perfect for it. I sent in his name, and they actually reached out and interviewed him too.
It was just today that I finally got the official “Unfortunately, you won’t be moving forward” email. But even if I’m not the next host, it may be possible that I was responsible for choosing the next host. Which is insane.
And on that bombshell, it’s time to end.