Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

The Top Gear Live experience - A chaotic and difficult weekend, but a VIP day out

Published by Chris Harland

It started off badly; I began to wonder if the ticket debacle wasn’t a sign! I had to be in Earls Court for half past ten, which was looking pretty likely until... a Signal Failure on the Paddington line! This caused the train to have to wait stationary for a good fifteen to twenty minutes! But this was ok, I’d factored in a little time for this. My wife and I then arrived at Paddington a little later than planned, but this would be ok if we could make a nice quick journey on the Tube to Earls Court. For those in the know, that’s either the Circle or District lines from Paddington. So, down to the underground we go only to find, yep, you guessed it, BOTH the circle and district lines CLOSED for weekend engineering works. Great I thought. This meant the only way to Earls Court was a journey via Piccadilly Circus, which turned out ok in the end.

So, we arrived at Earls Court at about twenty past ten, just in time I thought. As I now had to collect my tickets, I asked the security guys where the “VIP” ticket collection point was. “Join the queue to the right of the building” he said. So we walked around the side of the building, and saw one massive queue! Oh dear, long queue and only ten minutes to get inside! Still we joined the back, and the queue moved reasonably ok. When we got inside, at about ten forty, I looked over to the far side, to see the “VIP” ticket collection point and NO QUEUE AT ALL!! I’d only been given duff information by the security man. Oh well, I went over and collected my tickets and went in.

I called the contact from Shell, who asked me to make my way to the VIP enclosure, so I did. I went up the escalator, VIP passes in hand and got off at the top. “Wow I thought, this is posh! I looked around for a minute, no sign of Shell. I then realised I was only in the “Platinum” enclosure and I had to walk around the side to the even more posh “VIP” section. I could get used to this I thought.

As it was now about ten fifty and the show started at eleven, the Shell guests had already gone down to take their seats, no-one was actually in the VIP area. Not to worry, our personal hostess took us down to the theatre and led us to our FRONT ROW BOX SEATS where we had a fantastic view of the stage. After several rather long adverts, the show could then begin.

It was much better than I would have imagined, Jezza, Hamster and Captain Slow were on fine form and there was more car action than you could shake a stick at. We had a Ford RS tribute and stunt show where the r cars randomly turned from black to white due to some special heat responsive paint. Two Subaru’s duelled with the rear halves on fire following an explosion. There were the results of a TOP GEAR challenge which was to build a mode of transport out of things you’d find in your garden shed. May had built a sun lounger with SIX chainsaw’s lined up like tank tracks and he won by a country mile, it was incredibly impressive. We had an interactive cool wall where various cars were driven out onto the stage and the audience voted how cool it was. All this, and there was much more.

After the show, we were shown around the paddock where we got to see all the cars used in the performance, although they wouldn’t let me near the Ferrari F40 for some reason. We then went back upstairs to the VIP enclosure where we were fed and watered (well, beered!) and I waited eagerly to be summoned for my stunt car ride. Having watched the show already, I was quite excited to have a go. However, when it eventually came around to it, I was somewhat disappointed. It turned out that I wasn’t to go in a stunt car, but instead in one of the cool wall cars that had been driven out at idle revs not very quickly at all. Never mind I thought, still better than nothing. We were again taken downstairs into the paddock where the cool wall cars were waiting to go out on stage. I ended up in the Ford Mustang, which was rather nice, but I would’ve preferred the Rolls Royce Phantom. It was quite daunting been driven out onto the stage with everybody looking at you. The Mustang was voted as cool until Jeremy activated the “Presenter Overide” feature, and slapped the car firmly beyond uncool.

After leaving the stage in the car, my wife and I were then left to enjoy the MPH show until the end of the day. There were plenty of performance and Supercars about the place, but after spending a little while looking at them, we soon became bored and headed off home. I was asked by one of the Top Gear Live hosts if I’d come back next year. My answer now is yes, but only for the Top Gear Show, the MPH feature was a little rubbish to be honest.

Still, we both had a fantastic day out as VIP’s, and are very grateful to Sidepodcast, Shell and Edelman for giving us the opportunity to enjoy such a day.