A couple of years ago, whilst channel surfing through the television programs offered by my local cable TV company, I stumbled across what turned out for me to be a very entertaining show: Top Gear (www.topgear.com), a UK-based, BBC-produced program about driving cars. Sadly, when my cable TV supplier no longer aired the show, I assumed Top Gear had simply died from poor viewership. Though I missed the driving fun and automotive antics of the crew, I clicked my TV remote back to my perennial home improvement favorites. Little did I know that Top Gear was not only surviving, but was thriving. Lucky for me, I recently discovered that the video streaming service I subscribe to allows me to view many Top Gear episodes as part of my subscription.
The Top Gear crew (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May) combine performance car test drives, celebrity time trials, automotive challenges, and a bit of British humor to make a very entertaining show about the joys, and occasional challenges, of driving cars. But not just any cars – somehow they manage to get their hands on many of the elite, high-end performance and luxury cars of modern times. Think Porsche, BMW, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Ferrari, Astin Martin, Rolls Royce, Mercedes…the list goes on, and so does the driving fun. If I can’t afford to own and drive any of these dream cars, at least I can watch someone else push automotive performance well into triple-digit speeds.
What does Top Gear have to do with system simulation? Well, nothing and everything. Nothing, since driving a high performance automobile is far removed from the design technology that made the vehicle possible. And everything, since passenger car performance topping out near the 200 MPH mark, combined with production units that number well into the 1000s or higher (think reproducibility), isn’t possible without a significant amount of modeling and simulation during the design process.
So if you like cars, especially the brands and models that go fast, watching an episode or two of Top Gear is well worth your while. If you’re like me, chances are you’ll become an instant fan.