The Grand Tour’s debut season introduced a number of significant alterations compared to the previous and highly praised Top Gear. One of those changes was the introduction of a named professional racing driver. The Grand Tour recruited legendary Nascar driver Mike Skinner, better known as The American on the show, for this position. It’s safe to say that Skinner is no stranger behind the wheel, but fans didn’t take to him quite as fast as the likes of Abbie Eaton.
He was the teammate of Nascar Royalty Dale Earnhardt, and he has been racing since he was a child. So how did Skinner manage to get a place on The Grand Tour? Well in an interview with Grand Tour Nation, he explains what it was like to meet Jeremy Clarkson for the first time.
They first met a day before the first shoot of a segment of The Grand Tour, where the two got “half wasted” together.
Skinner said the following:
“The first shoot I did with Jeremy, they rented a whole hotel up out of the way of everything, and there was no one else there but us.
He continued: “So I’m sitting there having a glass of wine, and Jeremy comes in and says, ‘hey, you must be Mike.’”
He told us that they took part in small talk before they joined the rest of the team for a meal and drinks. Jeremy was quick to start drinking, according to the racing driver.
He said, quoting Clarkson: “‘Well, I want you to know something, us Brits, we know how to drink.'”
He then spoke back to Clarkson: “’Oh, do ya now? Well, good for you. I’m gonna go get some sleep.’”
According to Skinner, Jeremy then pushed him to stay: “’Are you gonna be a little ‘blankety-blank’ and go to bed or are we gonna have a drink?'”
“’Well, I’ll have another glass of wine with you,’” Skinner recalled, revealing that he followed him to the bar where he ordered two glasses of wine. Skinner then interrupted the order:
“’Bring us 2 bottles. You think you Brits know how to drink. Well, let me show you something.’”
“The next morning when I had to drive the Aston Martin Vulcan, we were still half wasted,” Mike Skinner claims before admitting he was “foggy” before driving the Aston Martin for the Eboladrome segment. Following this, Executive producer Andy Wilman banned the two from being together for the rest of Skinner’s career with the car show.
The American, Mike Skinner, didn’t return for the second season of The Grand Tour, with him being replaced by racing drive Abbie Eaton. Abbie, who is still featured in current episodes of The Grand Tour, was recently involved in an accident in the W Series where she fractured two vertebrae after her car was launched into the air following it hitting a sausage kerb.
She updated fans at the time:
“What a rubbish weekend! Ran wide and went over one of the HUGE sausage kerbs that launched me into the air giving me a compression fracture at T4 vertebrae.
“Not ideal! Also found out one of the F4 drivers also did the same and has the exact same injury. Ridiculous! No need for them at all.
“A shame not to finish the season off properly but full steam ahead with months of rest, recovery and rehab!
“Thanks to the W Series team, Stewie, Jessica and all my friends and family for the support. You’re all ace xx”