Want to be the next Top Gear Host? Jeremy Clarkson dismissal prompts Open Casting Call

top gear

Ever dreamed of working on Top Gear? How about being a host on Top Gear? Well here’s you chance.

Top Gear and BBC producers announced yesterday that they are holding an open casting call for the wildly popular TV show about cars.  After the dismissal of the well known and charismatic Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson earlier this month.  The reason Clarkson was let go from the show seems to be the fact that he threw a punch at one of the Top Gear producers.

Even though Jeremy Clarkson has left Top Gear, the show must go on and the Top Gear production team has decided to run open casting calls. What does that mean? Basically anyone with some automotive media experience and a desire to be the new Top Gear host can apply.  They are inviting people to send in applications for the job via the official Top Gear website.  This is a bit unusual as a position as important as this usually isn’t how producers find a replacement. You would expect the BBC and Top Gear production would reach out to potential hosts to fill Clarkson’s role with the other hosts James May and Richard Hammond.  Inside sources have reported that the producers for the BBC and Top Gear have been scrambling to find a replacement and this statement by Andy Wilman stated on the application page shows why they are doing this;

“Initially we were only holding discussions with a select few we thought would be ideal to replace Jeremy Clarkson. However, due to scheduling or contractual requirements none of these hosts will work for next season’s Top Gear in the short term.”

Once the page went up on the Top Gear website announcing the open casting call, the website was flooded with traffic and applications.  It brought down the server for several hours last night but the Top Gear web hosting and site team seems to have resolved any issues now.  The site and page is back up and running. It’s been reported from several sources that there have been tens of thousands of applications since the open casting announcement.  An update on the page reads;

The Top Gear producers put some requirements here but many seemed to have been ignored by the excitement over this open casting call.

Still the requirements are pretty open considering choosing a new Top Gear host is no easy task.  On the page it says, “The new host should ideally be British but we are open to considering a new host who is not from the United Kingdom.  However, you must be a native English speaker and have grown up in a country where English is a native language.”  I assume this includes the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and some other countries.

Ideally applicants should submit work showing 3+ years of past work within the auto media industry.  This can include written work in online or print publications, radio, TV, or online shows.  Credentials with an auto media organization are also preferred.  Andy Wilman says does say;

We will look at anyone who we think can truly fill Jeremy Clarkson’s shoes.  Experience is preferred but does don’t matter.

Another part of the application is submitting a video of yourself hosting and talking, explaining why you should be chosen.  You will need to be good on TV after all and obviously you will have to have good on air chemistry with Richard Hammond and James May.  They are planning on doing screen tests for potential hosts at the end of the summer.

Letting Jeremy Clarkson go has put the BBC in precarious position. Top Gear isn’t just another show for media conglomerate, since it funds lots of TV shows they produce which do not make money.  Top Gear is arguable the crown jewel of the BBC as has hundreds of millions of viewers across the globe and is broadcast in many different countries and varied languages.  Top Gear is a huge cash cow an revenue machine for the BBC.  The production team is worried letting Jeremy Clarkson go and leaving Richard Hammond and James May could potentially not work.  Top Gear USA was cancelled due to a poor ratings and high productions costs. The BBC and Top Gear want to avoid the “Top Gear America disaster and horror” as one producer put it.

It’s hard to know what Top Gear producers are looking for but it seems they are trying to cast a wide net and see what they turn up.  I imagine they will continue to be flooded with applications in the coming weeks.  The window for applying closes at the end of this month, so that should give any potential hosts out there a chance to apply to be the next Top Gear host.

Will you be applying to be the next Top Gear host? What would you do if you replaced Jeremy Clarkson?

Happy April 1st Everyone! :)

Automotive Training Expo

automotive training expo

The Automotive Training Expo (ATE) event was held March 20-22, 2015, at the Doubletree Hotel across the street from the Seattle International Airport. This event was put together by the Automotive Service Association (ASA) Northwest and included two and half days of both technical and management training. This year over 580 attended (compared to 425 two years ago) and this number included over 75 automotive instructors.

Many automotive instructors attended this event because, according to the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), each instructor is required to attend at least 20 hours of update training each year if they are teaching at a NATEF certified school. With eight hours of training on Friday, eight hours on Saturday, plus four hours on Sunday morning, this expo allows automotive instructors to meet this requirement.

automotive training expo

  • Shop owners attended their choice of management courses over the weekend event choosing from eight classes on Friday, nine classes on Saturday and four classes on Sunday.
  • Service technicians attended their choice of technical training courses over the weekend event choosing from 14 classes on Friday, 14 classes on Saturday and seven classes on Sunday.
  • Meals were included for Friday lunch, with a keynote speaker as well as food was included at the trade show. Saturday meals included breakfast with a keynote speaker, lunch with another keynote speaker and food available as part of the trade show. Sunday morning breakfast with a keynote speaker was followed by technical and management classes ending the expo.

automotive training expo

The expo was well organized and the ASA Midwest staff handled the crowd very well. With so many attending, most classes were filled and the host at each session checked that everyone was where they were supposed to be to help insure that those who signed up received a handout and a seat. Next year’s event will be held March 18-20, 2016. Check their website for additional information http://atetrainingexpo.com/

Editor’s Note – This is article was written by one of our contributors James Halderman.

The Shop Show 2015

the shop show

The Shop Show, formerly the Hotrod & Restoration and Restyling & Truck Accessories trade show, was held at the Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, IN March 13 – 14, 2015. This trade show is exclusively for hot rod, performance, and restyling professionals and is designed to connect shop professionals with industry manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors. Besides the trade show, there was a variety of classes taught in a classroom setting or in an exhibitor’s booth, depending on the topic and nature of the training. All classes were 60 minutes in length followed by a question and answer period. Training on the trade show floor was also occurring during the show offered by select exhibitors throughout the show. Some of the more interesting things I saw and learned included:

  • I attended the Evans waterless coolant session where I learned that this coolant uses several different types of glycols to create a coolant that does not contain water. http://www.evanscooling.com/
  • I also attended a training session presented by Penn Grade High Performance oil on engine oils designed for antique and collector cars, that while they often do not meet the requirements for current engines, their oil is perfect for use in older engines. http://www.penngrade1.com
  • On the trade show was a demonstration of wrapping a car using a Honda Civic as an example. It was cool seeing this procedure in action.
  • I ran into several people I knew, including some automotive instructors and even some former students.

It was a great day. About a 100 mile drive for me and the show itself was free, making this event a very cost effective event. It made me think that spring and car care is just around the corner.

Editor’s Note – This is article is from one of our contributors James Halderman.

shop show shop show shop show shop show

2015 Ford Edge Review

ford edge review

Does the 2015 Ford Edge have the edge in the mid-size SUV and crossover category?  That’s what I tried to find out this past week when I was invited by Ford to test drive the new 2015 Ford Edge in Phoenix, Arizona for half a day.

2015 Ford Edge Updates & Changes

Ok, so let’s take a look at the new 2015 Ford Edge. A few changes have taken place, most significantly, in the engine and trim offerings.  The Ford Edge trim line-up used to consist of the SE, SEL, Limited, and Sport. Now you have the SE, SEL, Titanium, and Sport.

In addition to the new Titanium trim line are revised engine and powertrain options which provide better fuel efficiency and power.  The engine options include;

  • 2.0-Liter EcoBoost Inline 4-Cylinder with 245-horsepower and 275 lb. -ft of torque
  • 2.7-Liter EcoBoost V6 with 315-horsepower and 350 lb. -ft of torque
  • 3.5 Liter V6 with 280-horsepower and 250 lb. -ft of torque (naturally aspirated)

All models come with a 6-speed automatic transmission.  FWD (Front Wheel Drive) is standard, but a change for 2015 is that all engine offerings can be ordered with AWD (All Wheel Drive).

Ford has a lot of great new technology on the 2015 Ford Edge.  Available as an option this year is the hands-free rear liftgate which can be activated by moving your foot under the rear bumper.  Testing it out was fun. Anyone who’s ever loaded and unloaded a vehicle can see why this innovation would be useful. You’ve probably seen Ford touting this feature in TV commercials. The kicking motion to open the rear liftgate was originally only available on the Ford C-MAX and Ford Escape but the 2015 Ford Edge has changed that.

The suspension and driving dynamics of the Ford Edge has also been significantly improved this year.  One of the suspension and body engineers told me the goal was to make the 2015 Ford Edge feel less top heavy.  Basically they wanted it to not feel like an SUV with top heavy weight while maneuvering.  The Ford Edge went on a diet, shedding 50 pounds compared to last year’s model.  This has helped refine the driving dynamics.  They have also used a sedan platform to underpin the 2015 Ford Edge.  Along with MacPherson struts in the front and integral-link independent suspension in the rear, the Ford Edge definitely feels more like a sedan.  With the slightly light weight and the sedan platform there is not as much body roll as other SUVs I’ve driven.

The other important area Ford has made improvements in in storage space. I am not just talking about an extra 7 cubic feet in the rear hatch but a lot of storage compartments in the cabin.  One of the Ford Edge planners told me he had his wife in mind while designing some of the storage areas. I thought the best storage compartment was on the dashboard above the SYNC infotainment screen.  The storage area is quite generous and it is easily accessible while driving.  It’s a great place to put a cellphone or stow your sunglasses.

During my test drive experience in Arizona I got behind the wheel of two different trims, the Ford Edge Titanium and the Ford Edge Sport.  These are the higher end models in the Ford Edge line-up and I took both on some nice highways and scenic twisty mountain roads outside Scottsdale, near Phoenix.  With 80+ degree weather (a welcome contrast to the East Coast freezer) driving the Edge on the open roads was a genuinely positive experience.

Ford Edge Titanium

I started the day in Arizona with a 2015 Ford Edge Titanium which comes equipped with the 2.0 Liter Inline 4-Cylinder EcoBoost engine.  I could definitely the peppiness of the engine kicking in going down the road.

One of the powertrain engineers commented on how engine power is more immediate with the turbo and reworked engine design.  While the Ford Edge Titanium has significantly less turbo lag than the majority of turbo’ed vehicles I’ve driven, I found that in some driving situations I could still feel a slight lag. The power hesitation on the turbo is there… but only for a split second.  This would probably be indiscernible to most drivers who do suburban and urban routes.  At lower speeds the turbo on the 2.0 Liter 4-cylinder engine does a fine job.  I only found turbo lag was an issue at higher speeds. While the engine may not appeal to hardcore gearheads, the 4-Cylinder EcoBoost should be fine for a wide variety of driving situations.  It’s enjoyable and adequate in my opinion.

The interior on the Titanium felt quite nice as it was cognac accented with black.  With heated and cooled leather seats it felt quite luxurious and comfortable even driving around on different terrain for two hours.  You might not think you need cooling but in 80+ degree weather, how  could you live without it?

Ford Edge Sport

Those who want more power and “oomph” will love the 2.7 Liter V6 EcoBoost.  When I switched out my Ford Edge Titanium for the Ford Edge Sport equipped with the V6, the power difference was immediately noticeable.

While a select group of people might care about the differences between a turbo EcoBoost 4-Cylinder and an EcoBoost V6, I am under the impression most Ford Edge customers will opt for the 2.0-Liter engine due to the better fuel economy compared to the 2.7-Liter V6.  If you mostly do around town driving and some highway miles, can you live with 4-Cylinder EcoBoost?  I would certainly think so.  Of course the extra power from the V6 is hard to resist once you’ve driven and experienced it.  Plus, one engineer indicated that feedback from many Ford customers was that they want a V6.

I didn’t find the interior of the Ford Edge Sport as comfortable as the Ford Edge Titanium since it was black interior.  The temperature difference was apparent even with the air conditioning on with cooling seats.  The model I drove had cloth seats but they were still comfortable.

The huge moonroof on the Edge Sport was quite enjoyable to open it up as it sort of felt like a convertible.  Ford calls it the VistaRoof and it is a great option if you want to spring for it.  It is also available on the Titanium.  My driving partner for the day commented on how enjoyable convertibles are. Hey, life is short so if you don’t get a convertible at least opt for a Vista Roof.

A somewhat firmer suspension setup makes for a more racer like driving experience.  Discerning drivers will appreciate it.  On curvy roads it’s nice to have a firmer suspension but as we got closer to the hotel, i.e. more toward city roads and stop and go traffic, the suspension felt cumbersome.  With beefier 21-inch tires compared to the Titanium’s 20 inch tires, the Sport looks better.  The larger tires are also more aggressive and provide better grip for more precise handling.

Technology

The Ford Edge comes with the SYNC infotainment system with MyFordTouch.  I ended up not being a fan of the SYNC and MyFordTouch system.  While driving I found that it took awhile to understand certain controls and functions on the screen.  I found it difficult to concentrate on driving while trying to operate MyFordTouch.  SYNC is a bit clunky and at this point Ford needs to consider switching to a more intuitive software system.

In terms of technology you get other nice additions like Sirius Satellite Radio, 2 USB charger ports for various devices, GPS navigation, and you can change the ambient lighting in the car to whatever color you want.

Safety

There are a lot of safety features on the 2015 Ford Edge. Some nice safety features include;

  • Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist
  • 180-Degree front camera system with a little washer system
  • Rear Parking Camera
  • Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning
  • Enhanced Active Park Assist

I thought that the power steering had a weird “kink” as it felt notchy while going down the road.  I realized that was actually the Lane Assist kicking in.  It does what it is supposed to do, keep a vehicle on the intended path and in the lane.  Like any technology you experience for the first time it takes getting used but once you know it’s there and feel the steering wheel making corrections it is somewhat comforting.

The front and rear camera systems are to help with parking. I didn’t get to try out the 180-degree front cameras, but anyone who has used a rear back-up camera knows how useful this feature is.  This will become a standard feature by law within a few years.

Ergonomics and Comfort

I found the driving seat quite comfortable on both Ford Edge models .  On many cars driving after 1 hour or so can become a chore if the ergonomics of the seat are not built properly.  On the Ford Edge even after roughly 4 hours of driving it felt like I could comfortably drive all day.  Having a well thought out cabin also helped.

Style

The new Ford Edge looks great. It has slick and sweeping lines emerging from the front to the rear.  The front fascia looks more powerful, aggressive, and hip while still retaining a, “Come drive me” attitude.  I actually don’t think I heard one journalist say they didn’t like the way the Ford Edge looked.  Compared to the outgoing design the exterior is a stunning improvement.

On the interior it’s clear that the Ford Edge designers have attended to details.  The stitching on the seats and doors panels feel high quality.  The fit and finish on interior components are well put together.

Final Thoughts on the Ford Edge

The first thing I noticed when I got into the Ford Edge was how sturdy the door felt when I closed it.  Usually a sturdy door can tell you a lot about a vehicle before you even start driving it.

The Ford Edge lived up to the door closing expectations and there is a lot to like.  The 2015 Ford Edge drives and handles well, feels comfortable, has good safety features, and works well as a mid-size crossover SUV.  My biggest issue was with SYNC and MyFordTouch.  If Ford improved the infotainment system it would be hard to outdo the Ford Edge in the crossover competition.

Should you get the Ford Edge Titanium or the Ford Edge Sport?  I’ll tell you when I got out of the pricier Ford Edge Sport I was a little sad to see it go.  With the Ford Edge Titanium I just got out.  That V6 is addictive but you do take a hit with fuel economy.

I should let readers know that I did not have enough time to go through all the safety and technology features, like pairing up my phone and using the Parking Assist to parallel park, on the 2015 Ford Edge.  I’d also like to check out some other things.  In a crossover what you really want to know is how it works when fully loaded with gear, people, or pets.  In my opinion the best way to experience the Ford Edge would be if I was able to test drive it for a week and see how it fits into my lifestyle with my two dogs, Cody and Sierra, with their dog seatbelts on.

The Ford Edge is ideal for those do not mind a slight price premium for safety, technology, and luxury in a mid-size crossover.  Overall it’s a great package.

If you have any questions or comments about my 2015 Ford Edge review and first drive impressions, feel free to leave a comment below.  I will try to answer them as best I can.

Vision Hi-Tech Training and Expo

vision hi techThe annual Vision Expo was held at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb southwest of Kansas City, March 5-8 2015. After a hard winter and lots of snow, it was nice to see sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s. This premier automotive event for shop owners, service technicians, and automotive instructors is presented by the Automotive Service Association (ASA) Midwest.

  • The event includes training sessions all day Saturday and until about noon on Sunday.
  • Due to the requests for even more training, there are now two full days of training on both Thursday and Friday prior to the main event which starts on Friday evening with a trade show.
  • The trade show also is open almost all day Saturday and during an extended lunch time to allow time for the attendees to visit the booths setup in over 60,000 square feet of display space at the convention center.
  • About 1,600 attended from 40 of the 50 states and four Canadian provinces this year’s event with almost 400 attending for the first time.This number of attendees included about 150 automotive instructors with specific topics for them all day on Friday.

The host hotel filled up fast (Sheraton Overland Park) as did many others nearby.

Attending the Vision Expo means a full day of activities including:

  1. Getting up early for the breakfast buffet at 6:30 until 7:00 both on Saturday and Sunday morning
  2. Awards and recognitions starts at 7 AM with a keynote speaker who is usually outstanding.
  3. Technical and management sessions start at 8:45 AM and run until 11:45 AM.
  4. Lunch was located next to the trade show area.
  5. Afternoon sessions ran from 2 PM until 4:30 PM with additional (optional) evening events and a banquet on Saturday.
  6. Sunday morning sessions end at 11:45 AM and everyone heads home looking forward to attending this event next year.

vision hi

As with any expo or conference, if the food is good, then the entire conference is considered to be good and the Vision Expo always provides excellent food. A huge trade show and an excellent convention center make this one of the best, if not the best automotive training event in the country. For a description of all of the training sessions that were offered this year, visit their website at: http://www.visionkc.com/

Editor’s Note – This is article is from one of our contributors James Halderman.

Physics for Gearheads Review

Physics for gearheads
Physics for Gearheads by Randy Beikmann

Editor’s Note – This is a review of the book Physics for Gearheads by Randy Beikmann by one of our contributors James Halderman.

As an author of 15 automotive college textbooks, it is not often that I am asked to review another automotive book, in this case Physics for Gearheads.  However, this title does not compete against any of my titles (visit jameshalderman.com) but instead is designed for the automotive enthusiast who has a technical background and wants the engineering explained as it relates to motorsports. These enthusiasts, who the author calls “gearheads”, should have college-level physics to get the most from this title. It is organized and written in such a manner that it can be read or studied as individual topics. The author also suggests that the reader allow time to fully absorb the content before moving on to another chapter. The chapters are organized, not by the parts or systems of a car, but rather by the physics concepts which include:

  • Kinematics – (Discussed in Chapters 2 and 3)
  • Dynamics - (Discussed in chapters 4 and 6)
  • Forces – (Discussed in Chapter 5)
  • Angular Dynamics – (Discussed in Chapters 8 and 9)
  • Dynamics in a Plane – (Chapters 10 and 11)
  • Energy – (Discussed in chapters 12 and 13)
  • Power – (Discussed in Chapters 14 and 15)
  • Statics and Quasi-Statics – (Discussed in Chapters 16 and 17)

As an author myself, I know how hard it is to organize content and writing into a reasonable readable flow, but this organization in Physics for Gearheads is hard for me to understand. While all of these concepts are associated with motorsports, I would have organized it around the systems of the vehicles such as tires, suspension, drivetrain and then discuss the various physics concept that apply to each area. Regardless of how I would organize the content, I found the book to be very well written and accurately covers the physics associated with all motorsports and racing.

Physics for Gearheads

  • Softcover
  • 595 pages
  • Full color
  • Single column interior design
  • 17 chapters plus six appendixes
  • Index

The Interior Design Features

  • Examples
  • Key Concepts
  • Notes
  • Major Point
  • Cautions

These features help the reader by making the text perfectly clear and helps prevent misunderstandings. However, this text is written in second person (you, we, your, let’s etc.) which I think distracts from a technical text where I prefer the use of third person. I doubt few will notice but it does tend to sound as if the author is talking down to the reader at times.

Big Plus of Physics for Gearheads

I loved appendix 2 (pronunciations). Great idea. Who doesn’t need help with this once in awhile?

What I Missed Seeing

I missed real world case studies where a vehicle owner wants to know what affect a change in tires size (width or diameter) would have on the acceleration, cornering etc.

Review by James Halderman
Email – jim AT jameshalderman.com

PHYSICS FOR GEARHEADS
Randy Beikmann, Ph.D.
ISBN: 0-8376-1615-8
Bentley Publishers

ACDelco Training is Terrible

Today I had to do some ACDelco Training modules for an automotive technology class I’m taking at the local technical college.  What’s always surprising to me about a lot of these online training programs, automotive and non-automotive related, is just how horribly and terribly designed they are.

First I had to do go through several menus to manually type in the selected course I needed.  On the homepage you have to go to take Take Training >> Catalog >> Catalog Search and then type in the course you want.  In this case S-SS-4-13-01 WBT, which I had to manually type in.  This mind you took me awhile to figure out in the first place.

Once I found it and got the training module up and working I noticed it kept freezing. I kept getting this error and had to reload the tests.  Often when I would reload the test I had to start over again even though I got all the answers right.  Since this is

acdelco trainingI tried a few different browsers like Opera, Firefox, and Chrome until I realized some geniuses at ACDelco only like to test software in Internet Explorer.  Who the f$#% made that decision?  Let’s be clear you have to use Internet Explorer to use ACDelco Training.  Here’s what it said above training course module;

Sometimes the Web-based training component you’ve launched doesn’t seem to be functioning properly. Perhaps the module is frozen and will not allow you to progress or the screens don’t look correct, with misplaced objects, or the module test will not accept your submission, etc. This means the training component you’re attempting to complete may have been developed and released for an earlier version of Internet Explorer.

To correct this issue, you may need to adjust your Compatibility View Settings. In Compatibility View, the training component will be displayed as if you were viewing it in a previous version of Internet Explorer, which will often correct any display or functionality issues.

Click here to view the steps to modify these settings if you’re using IE Version 9.0, IE Version 10.0 or IE Version 11.0

So basically what this is saying is that, “Yeah, we only coded this for an early version of Internet Explorer. We are too lazy to update it and you have to do a work around because we don’t like people using secure browsers like Chrome or Firefox.”  The ACDelco Training modules are also written in Java mind you, so there are a ton of problems with the code.  It basically intermittently works even with updated Internet Explorer versions, which I never use.  Who would over Chrome and Firefox?  We also don’t like anyone updating our modules with better code, on bad software, and with a confusing interface and design.

Bottom line, I see a lot of badly coded and designed online training but ACDelco Training takes the cake.  Companies like ACDelco have no excuse, and I mean no excuse, when they have the amount of money resources to keep these things updated and make them easy for people to use.

Honestly I wouldn’t use this online ACDelco Training unless I had to.  It is a class requirement that I complete these modules.

If you are an auto technician or automotive technology student and have used the ACDelco Training modules which are online based, do you agree?