on July 17, 2013 - 12:01 AM
, updated July 17, 2013 at 10:04 AM
All the while, a low-flying helicopter filmed the movements for “Top Gear,” a cable television show known for interesting automobiles and adrenaline-charged stunts.
The filming for the U.S. version of the show, which airs on the History Channel, required the Skyway to be shut down in both directions between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., as dozens of people gathered below on Fuhrmann Boulevard to catch a view of the action.
“This is the first time I remember the Skyway being closed for something positive, instead of a car wreck or snowstorm,” said Tim Clark, who heads the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission. “There are local crew hired, and that’s good for the Buffalo economy, along with the use of hotels, caterers and all the ancillary services that go with these kinds of productions. They are leaving a ton of money in this town.”
Clark said the BBC Worldwide Productions show scouted Buffalo in mid-June and seized upon filming along a stretch of the Skyway between the General Mills and Great Northern grain elevators. The show paid a standard application fee for use of the public Skyway, which Clark said was a chance to show off the city skyline while reaping the economic benefits.
State Sen. Tim Kennedy, who is on the Senate Transportation Committee, asked the state Department of Transportation to expedite the film commission’s request to close the highway.
“It’s a chance to show off Buffalo and encourage even more people to check out all our region has to offer. Filmmakers and television producers are quickly learning that Buffalo is the place to be to shoot exciting scenes in unique and diverse settings,” he said.
The show is an Americanized version of the more widely known and long-running British program named in the 2013 Guinness Book of World Records as the “Most Watched Factual TV program,” with airings in 212 territories from Ghana and Guatemala to Moldova and Myanmar. The Buffalo episode will air in the fall.
“Top Gear” hosts comedian Adam Ferrara, champion rally and drift racer Tanner Foust and racing analyst Rutledge Wood were on hand for the shoot, which included spinouts and individual speed trials.
“I enjoy the show a lot. It’s about cars and stuff, and the actors are good, and everything about it is great,” said Sean Leary, 19, of Amherst, who watched with his mother and sister.
Bob Brennan, of Amherst, said he watches both the British and American versions, and appreciates both. “They each have a different idea. The American one does a lot of stunts we can relate to. The English ones do all sorts of crazy stunts that wouldn’t be allowed here,” Brennan said.
Josh Parr, who operates nyspeed.com, a statewide discussion board for car enthusiasts, said he was glad to see Buffalo get the attention. “Usually they go to exotic locations and places that are pretty noteworthy, and it’s nice to see us getting the recognition on a show like this,” Parr said
Film sites over the past two days also included Elmwood Avenue, Niagara Street, Chapin Parkway and the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park. Driving stunts were filmed on Mississippi Street in the Cobblestone District, and the modified vehicles were shown driving in and out of the water at Erie Basin Marina.