Yes, Jeff Gordon scared me to death in the back of a fake taxi. Yes, it was a very well done, very real, very terrifying prank. But his original Test Drive ad from last year is still fake. Jeff didn't do any of the stunt driving in that ad. This new ad does not change history.
Yesterday we showed you how Jeff Gordon took me for the most terrifying drive of my life in the taxi ride from hell. I thought I was kidnapped and could end up maimed or even dead. Every single visceral reaction you see in that ad is apparently what I do when I think it could be my last car ride. This one is definitely real (although, as some pointed out, they clearly used some exterior shots from a practice run, hence the disappearing antennas).
In fact, the ad is hard for me to watch. Seeing myself that frightened isn't really enjoyable. It's kind of scary. I'm being a good sport about it, but it's not like I'm going home and repeatedly watching it and cracking up. "Hahahaha, oh, look, I'm screaming for my life! Hilarious!" I understand how funny it is to the outside and why it's funny, I'm just too close to the subject to feel the same way.
But it did prove that Jeff Gordon could do this if he wanted. Thing is, that was never in question. Jeff is one of the greatest drivers that has ever lived. He could do anything in a car and make it into art.
I have no doubt that Gordon is an excellent driver, but I was told that Noffsinger did all of the slides, burnouts, and other stunt driving for the film.
That is still 100 percent true. Just because he drove the car in this ad doesn't mean there is some sort of transitive osmosis that suddenly means he drove the car in the first ad. There was no Delorean that took him back in time to refilm that first ad after he was done scaring the bejeezus out of me. There is no possible way to prove that the first run was real.
Stunt driver Brad Noffsinger drove the Camaro in the first ad. I know this for a fact based on numerous conversations with people on set at the first filming. Hell, I spoke to Brad after this one was filmed (he was there to help set up stunts and the course). It's not that Jeff didn't want to drive the car or couldn't do the stunt work in the first Test Drive, there was a hurdle.
That hurdle was insurance.
Jeff is a famous athlete with lucrative endorsement deals and contracts that need to be maintained. If something were to happen to him off the track, the ramifications for him, his family, NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, his sponsors, and more, could be huge. So instead of dishing out a huge check to get insurance to cover Jeff for an ad that was an unproven concept, Pepsi Max got insurance for him to be there and to drive the car a short distance, like slowly in the parking lot.
That's why you never see the camera on Jeff during the first ad: He wasn't doing the stunt driving. At all. Ever. At any point.
But then Test Drive went on to get 40 million hits and be an internet sensation. It didn't matter that Jeff didn't drive. Imagine what it'd get if Jeff actually drove? With that sort of viewership, it suddenly became worth it to take out that big policy and put Jeff behind the wheel of the car for a second ad.
And it speaks for itself. Test Drive 2 is on its way to five million hits on YouTube in just one day. That impressive. The risk of getting Jeff to drive worked. It makes for a great story.
But it doesn't change the past. So to say this ad was proving to a "skeptic" that the first ad was real, well, that's just wrong. The first ad wasn't real. There is no skepticism, there are facts. This was an opportunity for Jeff to get revenge for the first ad being outed as fake, not to prove that he drove in the first ad. It'd be like me shooting a gun and then saying that proves I fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. There's a big difference.
But I'd say he certainly got the revenge he was looking for.