Rutledge Wood Talks Long Beach Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race and Tanner Foust's Insane Drift Passat

Today at 4 p.m. ET, Rutledge Wood, Alfonso Ribeiro, Nathan Kress, and a gaggle of others will see the green light for the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race during Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. It's the 39th running of the event, and this year's has plenty of experienced drivers in the mix. Wood returns to Long Beach as a fan, a celebrity, a Pro, and a student all the same. We had some time with him during the practice rounds and talked to him about the race, Tanner Foust's drift Passat, and his upcoming projects. Here's what he had to say: RELATED: Alfonso Ribeiro Talks His First Car and Why He Loves Racing Tanner is one of my best friend’s doing Top Gear for five years now. So he and I have been talking all winter about the car he’s been building, I knew about this crazy Passat. And then to get to see it out here, it’s just nutty. I basically have three full-time jobs, and they all sort of roll together into one day here. This is rad. Do you know the reasoning behind the Passat? Being a VW guy and the way he races for them for GRC, Global Rally Cross is such a different beast in the way they have a hand in it. Basically, he had to have something that he could go a little bit quicker, and he wanted something that he could make a lot of noise and a lot of tire smoke. So that’s why he said, “okay, I’ll take this Passat, I’ll turn it into rear-wheel drive, let Papadakis Racing build something insane," and that’s what he did. It’s so wild to see. It’s pretty crazy how it worked out. You’ve been in this celebrity race many times now here at Long Beach? This is my fourth time in a row, believe it or not. The first year I got invited here, we were racing the Scion tC, the front-wheel-drive one that was supercharged, and it was really fun, but I was so nervous I was going to be the guy on the car show who wrecked. Then the next year, that’s when we switched to the Scion FR-S. I got the pole and I won the race, Brett Davern took second and then talked his way into the race the next year. I got to come back as a Pro, and he won. That was last year. Then this year, he’s back as a Pro, and I basically did everything I could to get my way back in. Of all the events I do all year long, this one is the best in every regard. It’s just top-to-bottom the best. You get to be here on this track and get to be in these cars that you could essentially buy in a dealership. It just puts every crazy world into perspective. Really, this track is so insane the way this city comes together and makes it happen. We inconvenience this town for months to do this, and Long Beach celebrates it. The people who make the race happen are so good, and the coolest part for me is that we do this for a program called Racing for Kids. They came together with Toyota, and this is like 39 years ago, they said we really want to do this thing, we’ll put these people together, we’ll do some hospital tours. Toyota said, “Great, we’ll donate money on behalf of everybody in the race.” So Toyota has given more than $2,000,000 so far. They’re giving $5,000 for each participant this year to go toward the Miller Children’s Hospital and the Orange County Children’s hospital. For us to get to do that tour and see kids there, and for kids to say, “hey, I watch Top Gear" and ask about Tanner and Adam is cool. I have three kids, so for me to get to see that and spend a little time with those parents, not to mention we get to pretend to be racecar drivers for a week, it’s a pretty amazing experience. RELATED: See Photos of the Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0 When you had your kids, did your driving mentality change at all? Not about work and Top Gear and all those things. In Top Gear, we set up enough stuff to where we never put other people in danger. We might put ourselves in danger constantly, but you try to be comfortable about what kinds of things you get into. But for me, I think I’ve slowed down as a driver. I drive a four-door Tundra everyday, and I am a little bit of a grandpa. When you have kids in the car, that’s what you think about all the time, so that’s helped. And I know so many police officers, that it’s almost embarrassing if I speed and get pulled over, because they’re going to make fun of me. So I have to avoid that too. I have a Scion at home, it’s an xB. It looks like a box. It was built by Papadakis Racing, the company that built Tanner’s drift car. They converted it to rear-wheel drive, we drove it on Top Gear, and it was wrapped in yellow like a Taxi. I said to my friend who owned it, “Hey, I really want this car one day. If you ever want to sell it, call me.” And he called me, and I bought it. And now I have this 425-horsepower turbo superpower toaster xB, and it makes me smile so much. I love that car. And that’s one of those things that you can’t drive that fast, because everybody knows it’s me. So there’s this window of shenanigans that doing too much TV stuff helps keep you in check to where you can’t be a total idiot. That’s probably a good thing. I need to bring it out here. How are these FR-Ss different from the stock ones you could get at a dealership? They take a stock FR-S, they add a high-flow intake filter and an exhaust. They sound great. TRD puts a big brake kit and a couple suspension sway bar tweaks. And then they put a roll cage in, five-point harnesses, a fire suppression system, and that’s it. It’s truly as if you took a stock car and threw a roll cage and a big brake kit in it. They’re 210 horsepower, and I don’t know if you’ve ever driven one, but this is a car they built together with Subaru, so it has a horizontally opposed engine. Yeah, I’ve been lucky enough to drive both. I think we hit about 140 on the front stretch on this track. That’s hauling ass. That’s real fast, and I love these. The tC was fun, and the tC was a little bit quicker on the front stretch, because the supercharger would pull it a little bit harder, but when you can feel the oversteer in these cars and have a little fun and feel that wall is so much fun to me. Everybody’s been going pretty hard in practice out there. One of the drifters even wrecked already. Yeah, he punted that thing in there, that stinks. These guys are serious about getting on it. And for these guys, it’s funny, there’s a drift invitational next weekend where 15-20 guys will come and have something like a skins game just for the crowd. And I always go and watch that. My buddy Jarod DeAnda, who is the voice of Formula D, I end up in so many different cities and watching drift streaming online. For me, I watched Ryan Tuerck come in here, he and Chris Forsberg do a killer series online. It’s really fun just to come here and be like, “Hey, I’m a fan, what’s up?” It’s awesome, man. When these guys crank out 1,000-plus horsepower out of something that is never intended for that, it's awesome. Freddie Aasbo's car, he has a rear-wheel-drive Scion tC that’s a Rockstar car, and it uses the tC four-cylinder that’s just built to hell and back. He has 900-plus at the wheels. That’s gnarly for a four-cylinder. That’s impressive. One of my favorite things about getting to do Top Gear and events like this is that I get to spend so much time in California. The car culture here is so intense in the way that there are these different pockets. You’ll see somebody at the gas station who loves K-Series Swaps, and they’ll want to hear about your RSX, and they’ve got a ’92 EG hatch that’s in pieces they’re building. Or you’ll see people who love the FR-S. But people are always pro-cars or pro-bikes, or pro-motor sports. RELATED: See Photos of the Scion FR-S T1 Concept You also have a new show coming out soon. Yes, Lost in Transmission on History, May 7, 10 p.m. It’s a fun show about me living in Atlanta, loving cars, and working on them. We find cool old cars that people have, clean them up, give them back to ‘em. Basically, it’s just me leaning on all my friends, from the paint shop to the mechanic side of it. We’re really excited about that. It was basically the offseason project. It’s really cool History knows I love cars that much and wanted to do something with it. Was that something you proposed to them or the other way around? They said about two years ago that they wanted to do another show with me and asked what I wanted to do. So I helped create it and I was one of the executive producers on it, which basically just means you help on every aspect of the show. We used so many different people who I build cars with from MagnaFlow to Odyssey Batteries to Summit Racing, it was all about using my friends and doing it for other people. We fixed up a ’72 Land Cruiser that was this girl’s dad’s car. We built a ’64 Ford F-100, a ’68 Ford XL, a ’72 VW Thing for an army vet, which turned out amazing. Then you get to see some of my own projects. You’ll get to see the airplane hangar where I keep all of my junk. I bought a bunch of cars from Top Gear, so I needed a place to put all of them. Like a mile from my house is this little airport that has a grass runway. I met a friend over there who had an airplane hangar that she wasn’t using, so I get to rent that. Basically, the true premise of the show is that my wife has had enough of my vehicular shenanigans. That’s really why I wanted to fix up cars for other people, and History knew that I wanted to be close to home so I could see my kids everyday and see my wife. That’s what was really fun about it. RELATED: One Very Special Classic Indy Car is Headed to Auction ____________________________________ Click Here to Read the Original Article on BoldRide

Be part of something big