By the time nouveau Top Gear did an episode on rallycross, the trio of Hammond, Clarkson, and May were already a little bit past the series’ prime. For real, genuine, completely hectic misadventure in the world of rallycross, you need to wind the clock back to 1988.
This is old Top Gear, or I guess old old Top Gear at this point. The presenter is none other than ex-F1 driver Tiff Needel, most famous, certainly, for driving the wheels off of my coworker Jason Torchinsky’s Scion:
Tiff did a bunch of segments back in the day driving other people’s expensive and fast race cars, including probably the most raw car review ever put on tape. Here he is in the Jaguar XJR-15 spending pretty much the whole time screaming and cussing. I’m not sure if the majority of this review is censored, but it does feel like it:
In any case, in ’88 he found himself at the wheel of a 440-horsepower Metro 6R4, retired and de-restricted from the recently-cancelled Group B rally. It should be noted that Group B was cancelled because the cars were killing people. What better thing to do with them but give them more power and let them duke it out on rallycross courses! What could go wrong?
For Tiff, just about everything. Watch in this clip as he manages to get collected in someone else’s crash, desperately wring a damaged machine up the order, pass after pass, until his car simply falls apart with the finish line in sight:
Rallycross got a lot right, in that it took the most overpowered cars available and put them on the tightest tracks possible. These cars were a handful in the best of times, and it’s no surprise that, boosted to infinity, they spend most of this two-and-a-half minute race crashing and breaking down. It’s perfection.