NBC Revs Up 'Top Gear'

NBC has put a version of the British show "Top Gear" on the road to American television.

The series, a combination of fast cars, goofy modifications and cheeky hosts, is a hit on the U.K.'s BBC2 and airs in this country on BBC America. NBC has ordered a pilot for an American version of the show, which will be shot in Los Angeles later this year.

Craig Plestis, who oversees alternative programming for NBC, is a professed "Top Gear" fan. "We've had our eye on 'Top Gear' for a while now and think this show can really click with viewers," he says. "The concept taps into America's obsession with cars and is unlike anything else on television."

Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May host the BBC show, which also features a masked test driver known as the Stig. A typical episode might include a test of a high-performance new car, a segment in which the hosts tinker with a less stellar automotive specimen and a celebrity trying to turn in a fast lap time in "a reasonably priced car" ("American Idol's" Simon Cowell currently holds the record).

BBC Worldwide, which imported "Dancing with the Stars" for ABC, will produce the "Top Gear" pilot. The company considered having the BBC team host the American show as well, but that idea was scrapped in favor of homegrown hosts, who will be announced later.

"Top Gear" debuted in the United Kingdom in 1977. May, Hammond and Clarkson have teamed since 2002 and have helped make the show BBC2's most-watched program.