Top Gear Favorite Episode: The Topless Supercar Runway Race

An empty runway with supercars ready to take off is a familiar setting for us. Over the past four years, I’ve been lucky enough to participate in MotorTrend’s World’s Greatest Drag Race, where the year’s most recent supercars line up on an empty runway, ready to show off. What could be more fun than that?

That’s why one of my favorite episodes of Top Gear is the supercar runway race, which stars the Ferrari 458 Spider, the McLaren MP4-12C Spider, and the Audi R8 V10 Spyder. And it couldn’t have been done in better fashion than with James May, Richard Hammond, and Jeremy Clarkson at a closed airport in Spain.

The story starts with the trio playing around the airport facilities. They quickly head to the runway with the aforementioned supercars. Unlike our WGDR, which we’ve conducted at the abandoned Marine Corps Air Station El Toro and the pristine Vandenberg Air Force Base, the Spanish airport was once used for commercial flights and still has a terminal. But what’s important here is that there are three topless supercars next to one another, ready to show their power.

Using the 2.5-mile runway, Hammond starts in the Ferrari with its top on and reaches a max speed of 193 mph before slowing down. Next is May in the R8; he tries to beat Hammond’s speed but falls short at 186 mph. Lastly, Clarkson makes use of the McLaren’s launch control and reaches a top speed of 198 mph.

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But just like any other Top Gear episode, this one drifts away from the idea of simply determining which supercar is the fastest. May had the brilliant idea of starting the race with the top down and finishing it with the top up, and because only two of the three cars’ tops can be operated while moving, the story (and race) became a bit more fun.

I shouldn’t spoil the end. You can watch the episode, which also features actor Benedict Cumberbatch, on MotorTrend, where you’ll also find another 170 episodes at your fingertips. With so many episodes to watch, how many weekends of binge-watching will it take you to get through all of them?

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