While few Bret Michaels fans would be surprised to learn that the rock star and “Celebrity Apprentice” champion knows his way around a tour bus, that’s far from the only vehicle that gets his motor running.
“I’m an old-school, true gearhead,” says Michaels, talking to Zap2it in mid-October at the test track for History’s Sunday car show “Top Gear,” where he has just completed a lap in the red Suzuki SX4 hatchback as part of the show’s “Big Star in a Small Car” segment.
“Some people get excited about driving a car and being in a car,” he continues. “Even a bad day on my dirt-bike track or my go-cart track, a bad day in a car on a track like this, is a good day to me. There’s never a bad day.”
He even indulges while on the road playing music.
“You’re either born into it or you get it in your blood, that need for speed, that thrill,” Michaels says. “I like competing, even when I’m on the road with the band. We go to the inside cart tracks. I’ll take the band and crew out there, and we all compete.”
Fans will have to wait until Sunday, Jan. 9, to see how Michaels’ test-track time held up against such other celebrities as Buzz Aldrin, Michelle Rodriguez, Tim Allen and Kid Rock.
Not long before this day, Michaels recorded an original song called “Hit and Roll” especially for “Top Gear.” But that doesn’t mean he gets to find out his time and ranking early. Like all the other celebrities, Michaels has to wait a few minutes before he goes into the studio and does his interview, learning his fate in front of the assembled crowd.
“We don’t know yet,” he says. “Kid Rock, I hear was pretty fast. I hear Tim Allen did good. I’m keeping my fingers crossed I did OK. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I think I did good.
“I felt good out there. Listen, even if it wasn’t the fastest time, I was totally up to the challenge. This is a good day for me.”
As for the drive itself, Michaels says, “They said, ‘Do you want to drive any of the other cars when you get here?’ I said, ‘Am I going to be using any of these cars to set a lap time?’ They said, ‘No.’ And I said, ‘I don’t want to sit in them, because then, all of a sudden, I get excited. You get into a [Dodge] Challenger or the [Chevrolet] Camaro or the Lotus, and it’s a much different vibe than what the Suzuki’s going to be.
“Actually, the Suzuki handled really well. It was not bad. But the truth of it is, when I got into that seat, the bet part of the day honestly was getting advice from The Stig.”
Like its British predecessor, History’s “Top Gear” has a “tame racing driver,” called The Stig, who remains anonymous and silent (at least for the audience) in his white racing suit and full helmet and reflective visor.
“You have to ride with confidence and no fear,” says Michaels, “but I also know I’m not a professional driver. He’s a pro, a real pro, whoever this mysterious Stig is — I don’t know.”