What do you get if you mix Ken Block's Gymkhana videos with American Ninja Warrior? The answer is, of course, Netflix's new hit car show, Hyperdrive. The video game-style motorsport competition was tailor-made for TV and isn't like anything anyone has ever seen before.
The show features thrilling next-level drifting through a cinematically styled obstacle course. Hyperdrive has been speeding its way sideways into people's hearts to such a degree that it has made raving fans out of viewers who had no interest in either cars or driving - perhaps due to the often nail-bitingly intense drama? There is no doubt in our minds that the drivers behind the wheels are nothing short of daredevils, some of which now seem to enjoy themselves in the roles of social media celebrities.
15 Charlize Theron Is A Co-Executive Producer
Charlize Theron teamed up with the makers of Battlebots to produce the new reality racing competition series where 28 international contestants drive around a race track and attempt to navigate specific obstacles and perform maneuvers on the custom made "Hyperdrive" course. The Hollywood star even showed up in the episode where fellow South African and driver Stacey-Lee May is introduced, visiting her family in Johannesburg.
14 It Took Time To Make It All Come Together
The search for Hyperdrive contestants actually started in the spring of 2017, more than two years before the episodes were finally up and running on Netflix. There was plenty of planning and organizing that needed to be done, including finding a location for a multi-stunt racing course, as well as space for production facilities, crew pit areas, craft services, and equipment storage. Not to mention finding and auditioning the drivers and hosts.
13 The Show Was Produced In New York
The producers rented a 100-acre area inside what’s now called the Eastman Business Park in Rochester, New York, and arranged to shoot there for three weeks during July and August of 2018. Setting up the course in and around the former home of Kodak’s sprawling processing and manufacturing operation gave the show an “industrial” feel - which made features like “The Leveler” seem like they belonged and had always been there.
12 Hollywood Stunt Coordinator
The challenges were developed by a team of stunt drivers, led by rally champion Andrew Comrie-Picard. Previously, the X Games competitor had designed stunts for the U.S. edition of Top Gear, as well as movies such as Atomic Blonde, starring Academy Award-winner and Hyperdrive's own co-producer Charlize Theron. An added Hollywood touch was the high-velocity water cannon used on the “Black Pearl” ship in Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean.
11 The Stunts Were Created Using An Old Beater
Professional racer and stunt coordinator Andrew Comrie-Picard, who has worked on several of Theron’s action movies, said the course wasn't designed to favor a particular type of car. He created the stunts for the show using a 2005 Pontiac GTO, which was bought cheap. His reasoning was that if he could finish the course in a decade-old muscle car, so could the contestants. However, the course did favor rear-wheel-drive cars.
10 Announcers From Mixed Backgrounds
The announcer team is a mix of established sports broadcasters (FOX Sports 1’s Mike Hill), automotive experts (FOX NASCAR host Lindsay Czarniak, ex-TopGear US host Rutledge Wood) and retired mixed-martial arts fighter, Michael Bisping. It might seem odd to have a UFC fighter in the mix, but Bisping’s competition background lets him get inside the minds of the drivers when the pressure is on during their time on the track.
9 It All Began With Social Media
Contestant Fielding Shredder says he first noticed a basic Facebook ad: “drivers wanted for a new TV show.” With driving being his life, of course he responded to the ad. Chicago-area exotic car salesman Omar Salaymeh says he was contacted by a producer who had seen his car posts on Instagram. From there they went through interviews, background checks and full physicals they had to pay for themselves.
8 It Took Longer To Film Than It Looks
Watching the show, the viewer gets the impression it was filmed one night after another across ten episodes. However, that wasn't the case. Right from the start, producers told the prospective contestants about the sacrifices that would need to be made and were asked point-blank whether they would be willing to take off work for up to three weeks for the production.
7 They Kept The Neighbors Awake
For added industrial feel, Hyperdrive was shot at night. This also meant that disruptions at the race location were kept at a minimum, seeing as the industrial park was home to dozens of small businesses. However, the roaring engines and screeching tires from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am didn't exactly endear the production to the people who live nearby. One resident claimed they only received one day's notice before filming began.
6 The Drivers Had To Make Serious Sacrifices
In addition to the time off, drivers were liable for any damage done to their car during the race, with no reimbursement or coverage coming from the show. In addition, the international drivers would be without their cars for months while they were shipped to the U.S. and cleared customs. Salaymeh says between modifications to his car, last-minute parts failures and being off work, the experience cost him about $40,000.
5 No Two Cars Are Alike
The drivers come from a variety of motorsports disciplines such as rallying, spinning, drifting, and drag racing -- and no two cars are the same. While some of the cars were built for drifting, there were cars built to be fast in a straight line, while other drivers showed up in completely street legal machines that may not have been as fast, but were often more reliable during the 10-episode shoot.
4 Clueless About What They'd Be Up Against
All 28 contestants arrived at the course with very little information about what they would be facing, with almost no time to practice on the course before filming started. Some of them certainly tried to extract some info from the stunt coordinator to get an idea about how to set up their cars, only to get very general answers. They were told to install safety equipment and a “drift brake” though.
3 Friendly Atmosphere
On the show, the drivers are shown to be fighting nail and tooth for every tenth-of-a-second advantage to stay in the competition. But the drivers also say they became good friends with their on-screen competitors, even jumping in to help fix each other’s cars when problems arose during the production so that they could stay in the race.
2 Reality Isn't Always Real
Even if it is an “unscripted” show, the producers and editors still control how the participants come off. The Hyperdrive competitors had to agree to let the producers portray them in any way they saw fit, even if they were made out to be “the villain.” That's exactly what happened to Omar Salaymeh - he was portrayed as a d-bag, but the other participants say he's really a great guy.
1 Far From Lucrative
Unlike most reality shows, where the participants get paid a decent amount, the Hyperdrive producers put the racers up in a hotel during the run of production and provided a stipend for meals. And that's it! What did the winner get you may wonder? He or she would receive a fancy trophy, a champagne shower, streaming-TV glory and … that’s pretty much it. No prize money, only bragging rights.
Sources: Vice, Fox News, Netflix