Posts Tagged: Rutledge Wood


"Another great day of filming for TopGear USA. Can’t wait for this season to air! Going to be nuts!"

(via @RutledgeWood twitter)


Last week, Top Gear USA co-host and Speed Channel commentator Rutledge Wood was swinging through New York City to promote his new partnership with Valvoline’s NextGen recycled motor oil. When his publicist asked if we’d be interested in an interview with him, we said sure.  After all, we never say no to a chat with someone whose job is even better than our own. Well, we’re glad we did. He turned out to be one of the nicest, most enjoyable people we’ve ever interviewed…and a big fan of 0-60, to boot.

Story and Photograph: Will Sabel Courtney

You’ve had a very interesting career. Walk me through the rise of Rutledge Wood.

Always knew I wanted to do something on TV, ’cause I thought it was the best way to make people smile. First job out of school was for Country Music Television; I did mobile marketing on the road for them for like eight months. And ironically, I quit because I didn’t want to travel. Ended up working at a pizza restaurant for a while, and then I worked at Hertz Rent-A-Car. One day I was like, “I’m out, I can’t do this.” So I walked up and I was like, “You guys, I need to quit.” And they were like, “Okay, can you turn in your two weeks?” And I was like, “No, I’m gonna leave in the next 45 seconds.”

[Eventually,] I got on Craigslist, and I found this listing [that] said: national motorsports channel looking for a master of ceremonies/marketing guy. And I said, “That’s me.” Two weeks later, I was in Daytona for the 500. And I just kind of hit the ground running.

I spent a year as the MC in the big Speed stage that travels all around to all the races, and I kept telling them, “Hey, I wanna be on TV.” And I remember this guy said, “Well, what do you want to talk about?” and I said “Not the cars.” And he just looked at me like, “What do you mean, not the cars?” And I was like, “You’ve got people who can talk about cars, but they can’t talk to people. Let’s just talk to the people. Cause those 43-plus guys who show up every weekend are what make the sport work. That’s why the fans show up. So let me just talk to them.”

I never would have guessed that I’d be on the road for the longest sports season out there. But I love it, it’s so much fun. I know NASCAR doesn’t reach everybody, which is kind of a bummer, but if you like cars and you like to tailgate and have fun, it’s the easiest place in the world to go out there and have a good time.

That brings us to a good point. There are a lot of people out there who like to dump on NASCAR. How would you defend the sport against one of those people? If you were on the subway, and someone was like, “You’re that guy from NASCAR! NASCAR sucks!”

NASCAR might have [once] had more of a hardcore redneck fan base, but now, if you look at it, it’s one of the only places in the world you could see a doctor sitting next to a guy that does drywall, sitting next to a guy that is a dentist, sitting next to a mechanic. Like, it’s a perfect little melting pot of all these little societies and cultures, because people just want to have fun.

And I tell people, if you go to a race, it’s taking the best college football tailgate you’ve ever been, and stretching it over three days. And so anybody that didn’t like NASCAR, my first question would be, have you ever been to a race? And every single person that tells me they didn’t like NASCAR tells me they haven’t been to a race. I think, the best answer I can truly give anyone is, let me show you why. I’ll take you out there and [you’ll] have a good time.

You’ve got a passion for older cars. Why would you say that you’re so drawn to them?

Well, it’s gonna sound a little bit nerdy, but I’ve always been really big into recycling. Cars are the same sort of way. My ’83 Civic is a perfect example. I took this ‘83 Civic wagon, painted it, put a ’96 Integra LS swap in there, which has barely fit—we’re still working on axles as we speak. A little part of me likes the idea that you can take cars and make them into essentially new cars, because at the end of the day, it’s cooler to me than just buying a new car.

And I’ve had…I think I’ve had 52 or 53 cars, and haven’t wrecked any. I’ve tried to get cars I used to see as a kid, that I wanted or I liked, and a lot of them I’ll have for a month and then I’ll be like, “Wow, this sucks. Hmm, okay, let’s sell that.” It’s funny how so many things in my life come back to, honestly, repurpose and recycling. And that’s how I ended up here with Valvoline for the motor oil, ‘cause it’s all recycled. I was like, “This is awesome. Sign me up.”

If you had to pick a new car—one you could use as a toy—say budget’s no object, but you gotta go out there and pick some 2011 model car, what would you pick?

The Cadillac CTS-V wagon, because I have two little girls. I said on The Tonight Show that I would pick a brand-new Subaru Impreza WRX STI, and Jay Leno called me a lame-ass. The reality is—Lambos are awesome, [but] I can’t fit a child seat in back. I don’t think Porsches should have more than two doors, so I’m not gonna pick a Panamera or a Cayenne.

The CTS-V Wagon is…it’s absurd! I love that they make it. I wish it wasn’t so expensive. I’d probably put a roof rack on there, and dump that sucker and just ride out. I would love it. That would be such a fun car to have someday. One day. It’s on my list.

Days of Thunder or Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby?

Oh! Days of Thunder! Are you kidding me?

These are the questions we have to ask.

Don’t get me wrong, Talladega Nights was really funny. I missed the opportunity of meeting Will Ferrell; he came to our stage when they were promoting it, and I was so crippled with fear to get near him and talk to him, I was so nervous, that I didn’t go over there. It’s a really funny movie, but Days of Thunder all the way.

Pogs or snap bracelets?

Oh, wow! That’s a good question for a kid of the ‘80s. Uh, I’m gonna say snap bracelets. I had Pogs, I had maybe five? And I was like, “So what do you do with it again?” Slap bracelets to me were—

Valvoline PR Rep David Abrams: Remember they banned them, because kids took their eyes out?

Yeah. If you break the fabric off, they’re just sharp as hell. I just saw one the other day—I saw a huge one at an airport, it was a Keep Austin Weird slap bracelet. It was like this big (holding fingers several inches apart). It could cut my daughter in half! This [line of questioning] makes me feel—is there a Saved By The Bell question in there?

We can throw one in there if you want. Tell us about your experiences with Saved By The Bell.

I own the Saved By The Bell board game. We like to quote it, my friends and I, and—thank god that TBS runs ‘em twice a day, or how would you stay current with your love for Saved By The Bell? Did you watch Saved By The Bell at all?

Uh…caught it a few times in reruns growing up…

Okay, do you remember the duck from the oil spill? Do you remember her name? Becky. What was Screech’s robot’s name?


Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm. Kevin. How about, remember when Jessie’s dad got married and she had a half-brother, he came down from New York? What was his name? Eric. What kind of car did he dismantle? I’ll give you a hint: it was Mister Belding’s wife’s car. A Miata! We could do this all day long. All. Day. Long. I love Saved By The Bell.

I got a tweet from Mark-Paul Gossler, and I almost peed my pants. Because he is buddies with my friend Riki Rachtman, who used to host Headbangers Ball—great guy, who knew he was into NASCAR, that’s how I met him—but I said, “Hey, Riki, we should have you and Mark-Paul Gosselaar on Top Gear sometime,” and he was like “Dude, I’d love to, I love the show,” and I was like “AAAAAAAHHHHH!!! THIS IS AWESOME! I just got a tweet from Zach Morris.” I’m sorry.

Delivery or DiGiorno? We asked that one to Tanner, so we gotta ask you.

He had to have said delivery. He doesn’t cook shit. Excuse me. Little playboy’s never home. I would say my favorite pizza in the world is called Partner’s Pizza, a little place in Peachtree City where my wife worked in high school, where I’d say I really fell in love with her, ‘cause she really didn’t like me at all…delivery or Digiorno…delivery. Delivery. Man, DiGiorno’s good…

They’re adding too much to DiGiorno now. Like breadsticks…

If they start doing like a stuffed crust, I’m out.

I think they do.

No way. It’s too much!

Name five songs that are on your go-to driving playlist.

Hmm. Luke Bryan’s “Welcome To The Farm”…let’s see…T.I.’s “What You Know”…[rapping] whatchu know about dat…uh…I’m try to think of what else…Blackpool Lights, “This Town’s Disaster”…Alkaline Trio, “Dethbed.”

I got one more…hmm…go-to driving songs… oh! Left Front Tire, and the song is…“Cheaters.” It’s one of those songs, where every time it comes on, I’m like, “Wow, I’m going too fast. Gotta bring it down a bit.” Those are my five.

One more question—it’s a hypothetical. It’s 9:59 pm on a Sunday. You’ve got an all-new Top Gear USA coming up on History, and there’s a new episode of Top Gear UK coming up on BBC America. Why should I watch you?

You should watch us because it is cars that you can buy here, roads that you can drive here, and surely enough, watching three normal guys going out and being complete idiots would be really, really fun.

That is an exceptionally diplomatic answer.

Thank you. Could you tell? My [mental] wheels were like, “I didn’t talk crap about them, and I called us idiots…okay, perfect.”

Now who’s taller—Richard Hammond or Tanner?

I think Tanner is, by like half an inch. There’s this one picture, where I’m clearly doing the wideleg stance so I’m a little bit lower, and I’m still like a foot over all of these guys. Tanner’s tiny. You could fold him up, put him in your pocket. He’s just so good at anything he drives. Really pisses you off. Gets old. We find new ways to beat him. So we cheat. A lot.

Can you say anything about season two?

I believe in my heart that at some point this year, I will kill Tanner’s truck that won [the Alaska challenge]. And I have not completely formulated my plan. But it must die. It must burn.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I miss 0-60 Magazine already. ‘Cause now I realize, when you described the last one, that was the last one that I had, because—when did that one come out, it was after SEMA? Dark grey car on the cover? That was the last one. Man, that’s a bummer.

(via 0-60 Magazine)


"What do you say to the TSA guy who mid-pat down/groping says "I really love your show" ? I was lost…"thanks?.." ?"

(via @RutledgeWood Twitter)


Saturday is video day!

Here is Rutledge trying to eat a giant hot dog and a bunch of french fries, with Kyle Petty cheering him on.

(via YouTube)


"Good news, Tanner elected a pope."

The dramatic door slam at the end is probably my favorite part.

(via historychannel YouTube)


The Sardine Incident.

"Oooooohhhhh! Turn it off, turn it off, turn it off! Turn it off! Oh, God, oh! That didn’t work at all! Sh**! Oh, f***in’ gross. Oh, oh, oh, that sucks. That sucks, that is justice. F***in’ karma."

"Yeah, I guess that’s how karma works."

(via historychannel YouTube)


On Adam launching the 1976 Cadillac-

Rutledge - "It was perhaps the bravest and dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And it was awesome."u

Tanner - "Was it brave or was it dumb, because I still don’t know."

(via historychannel YouTube)


Is it just me or are the parts cars in better shape?

(via historychannel YouTube)


Adam and Rutledge go to REI to prep for the Alaska Trip.

Rutledge’s Shopping List: Rain Pants, Socks, and Waterproof Underpants (not for the rain, but for the night terrors/bears).

"This is going to be awesome."

(via historychannel YouTube)


It’s no Jessica, but I suppose it could be worse.

(via historychannel YouTube)