MotorTrend collaborator Jethro Bovingdon has fulfilled some of the epic dreams of car enthusiasts in his more than 20-year career as a motoring journalist, but his role as co-host of Top Gear America beats them all. Okay, maybe not every moment – his description of driving the MTM Bimoto Audi TT at full speed on an autobahn will make your neck hair stand on end – but like we talked about Top Gear America Season 2 on MotorTrend+, we asked him: is this the best job you’ve ever had?
“Yes, it is,” he said. ‘And you know what? The funny thing is I didn’t think it would be like this before I started.’ He made this comment towards the end of our conversation, after we asked what it’s like working with fellow hosts Dax Shepard and Rob Corddry, and about some of his more memorable car-related experiences – most of them took place thanks to Top Gear America.
“The first day on the set of Season 1 was probably the third full day we spent together, so we were lucky to get along really well,” said Bovingdon when asked about how the three interacted. extremely different personalities has evolved from season 1 to season 2. “We had some decent chat, and those guys, because they have such big personalities, it’s really easy to just sit back and enjoy watching them chat and making jokes.”
Making Top Gear America
As with any new television series, reality or script, there is a learning curve, and Top Gear America is no different. A winning formula is based on the ability to find a groove, get the pace just right and show human moments. For Season 2, the producers have included even more of the banter and jokes between the three hosts, and Bovingdon agreed that there was a noticeable difference on set this time around. “I think it’s like a big — I wouldn’t say something cheesy like ‘a big happy family,’ but it felt like a much more cohesive machine by the time we got into season 2.”
So what’s it really like on set? Bovingdon said Shepard and Corddry are acting exactly as you would expect when the cameras are not pointed in their direction. “As for making the show, Dax and Rob are very professional in everything they do, no matter how funny they are,” he said. “They’re great to watch — even on a bad day, they can just turn it on and make it happen, whenever it needs to.” But that doesn’t mean the co-hosts turn to scripted personalities when it’s time to roll the cameras.
“The fun thing for me, from very early in Season 1 – and it continued into Season 2 – is that we thought, we don’t say things that we don’t think are true, and we won’t be forced to say things,” he said. “Dax, you obviously couldn’t put a word in Dax’s mouth; that’s just not his personality. That’s what I love about him the most. He has one speed. He is always at 100 percent. He never leaves anything on the table. “
You’d think Corddry would need some help staying on topic when it comes to judging cars, but Bovingdon put an end to that idea. “I think Rob is probably the funniest person I’ve ever met; he just kills me every time,” he said. “His Fundamental Opinion” [about cars] is so banging, and it always was from the start. He’s such a smart guy. You can’t be this funny without having an active, fertile mind. He’s smart enough to have his own opinion, and it won’t be forced on him.”
Jethro Bovingdon’s Favorite Top Gear America Car, the Suzuki Jimny
Without giving too much away about Season 2, we asked the co-host to name his favorite experience with the show, and the veteran track driver and racer gave an unexpected response. “One of the things I discovered by doing Top Gear America is, I never thought I’d enjoy off-roading as much as I do,” he said. “I really enjoy it; it’s just a really good laugh, and you can go to some amazing places.”
Indeed, he’d seen the off-road meccas of the American Southwest—Johnson Valley in California and Moab in Utah—a few times before, but it was a 57-horsepower, second-generation Suzuki Jimny in Calico, California, that captured his heart. won. We know it in America as the Samurai, but Bovingdon had heard about the reputation of the cute little 4×4, and the right-hand drive Jimny the producers bought didn’t disappoint. “I think the Jimny thing was just the unexpected nature of it — it was so good,” Bovingdon said. “Once we finished shooting, oddly enough, Dax thought, ‘I really want to be in that.’ Dax doesn’t like small 4x4s, but he also kind of fell in love with them. We are all very impressed with that little car.”
You can stream new episodes from Top Gear America on MotorTrend+ every Friday (sign up for a free trial today!) and new episodes of Top Gear America: Behind the Adventure every Monday for more behind-the-scenes action. As Bovingdon said, whether the hosts race minivans, revive the Jaguar name, or casually drive a Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport Vmax (he said his grandmother could have done it, but don’t tell Shepard that), Top Gear America is a “license to have a really good time at work every day.”