I recently talked to Abbie Eaton on the Sung’s Garage podcast where I alongside Sung Kang, interview industry specialists. In this episode, we were joined by Abbie, and another racing driver by the name of Jorge Calado with both presenters discussing their new show Track Mode that’s being hosted on the Carfection YouTube channel. In the interview, we got onto the subject of The Grand Tour, and the conversation eventually made its way onto The American, who drove for The Grand Tour on their test track, the Eboladrome.
Similarly to The Stig for Top Gear, The American would perform laps in cars around the Eboladrome for a leaderboard, but with the script calling for an overly American caricature, fans quickly decided they weren’t fans of this decision.
Abbie commented on how she felt about The American, saying the following:
“I think he was destined to fail, to be honest especially with UK viewers, I think probably it was setup that The Grand Tour is owned by Amazon, which is an American company and they wanted to just give it an American injection of humour.
“But as Brits were like like, ‘oh, goodness gracious me.'”
I mentioned the fact that a lot of what he said was scripted, in which Abbie replied, “he’s a really really really nice guy.”
Abbie, who drove for The Grand Tour for two seasons before the show began to only focus on specials, continues in the interview to note what is was like to drive for a film crew over competitive driving:
“It’s a similar kind of pressure, but it’s more done on one lap, shootout type things, and making sure you get the shot first time.
“I mean, you don’t have to do it in a lot of things, you know, they’ll want the shot a million times to get a couple of different angles from it.
She continues to tell me that she’s the kind of person who will want to nail it first time.
“You’ll give it your all, do it, and then they’ll tweak it a little bit and stuff like that.
“How the laps are filmed is… I’ll end up doing a few practice laps, then, we’ve got to get two or three laps that are within a tenth of each other so that it’s a legit time and we’ll know that I haven’t fluked it and that kind of stuff.
“And once we get the laps in, then we’ll do some shots for the camera roll to be put together for the film.
“So we’ll see stuff where, in the feature, the cars will be drifting or it’ll be a cool slow-mo of the car and tracking of the car and stuff like that.
“That stuff again is really exciting to do and I love it, I absolutely love doing it and it’s a different kind of reward from doing that as opposed to racing and winning a race, but it’s all part of the same automotive fire that you keep fuelling.”