Behind-the-Scenes at Roebling Road
Like we have for over three decades, in January 2020, we packed up our gear and headed south for our annual road test trip to warmer climes of Savannah, Georgia. Little did we know, the COVID-19 pandemic would keep us from returning in 2021. Fortunately, our Greg Carloss, was already working on a treat for our 40th Anniversary Season. So, let’s go Over the Edge, and behind the scenes, to happier times.
GREG CARLOSS: Every January when winter freezes our production in Maryland, the whole MotorWeek crew packs up all the gear and heads down here, to Roebling Road Raceway outside of Savannah, Georgia where we spend a full week track testing high performance cars. I know, it sounds like a dream. But, it’s a very real job and let me show you how we do it.
It all starts at what we refer to simply as “The Mansion.”
The picturesque Grove Point plantation, once Gregory Peck’s hangout in Cape Fear backdrops John’s segment intros and the endless vehicle detail shots needed for seven weeks’ worth of episodes.
What you see, is this, but behind the cameras, for us it’s dozens of dolly setups, countless car changes, and a mountain of cue cards, not to mention aallll the dulling spray.
In total, cameras are rolling for almost 8-full hours...and that’s just the first day…
Day two is when the real fun starts.
The morning is filled with more standups and static shoots as well as car prep and safety checks for our test vehicles. Here, tire pressure and lug nut torque are critical.
Finally it’s time to suit up!
This is the most exciting and really most important job this week. Getting in and actually test driving the cars on the race track. A rare opportunity to mix business with pleasure!
Of course it doesn’t just end with the driving, we have to be able to translate how the car feels on the track into words.
KYLE SCANLON: “This is a fast, fast car that is for sure. I’m even a little shaky on that one.”
Cars these days are safer than they’ve ever been, but they’re also faster and more expensive, many reaching speeds over 150 MPH and some costing $150,000 or more. So myself and the other test drivers rely not only on nerves of carbon fiber, but the skills we’ve acquired from years of training and experience.
As cars zoom around the track, our top-notch camera crews are out there recording all the action up close. Each shot is carefully planned out ahead of time so we can show all of the 9-turn, 2-mile road course and most importantly, stay safe while doing it.
Visually, track tests from MotorWeek’s early years were sort of like school lunches, giving you the substance you need without much else. But breakthroughs in camera technology now allow us to serve up a 5-star feast for the eyes. These big shoulder cameras still provide the meat and potatoes...while GoPros add a dash of spice...drones drizzle on the awesome sauce...and DSLRs sprinkle on the finishing garnish.
Each day we run 2 or 3 long hot lap sessions. And, with flags to wave, cameras to mount and continuity to keep, it’s all hands on deck at all times in the pits.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t take time to have some fun and blow off some steam...and smoke!
After three days of intense track testing, we tend to go through some tires. As you can see, this one’s pretty worn out, honestly, so am I. But the work’s not done. We have to head back to Maryland and work our TV magic and put together a show for you to enjoy.
Each five and a half minute test we produce during Roebling Week is the culmination of hours of total teamwork and I truly missed doing it this year. But, the wheels keep rolling here at MotorWeek just as they have for 40 years!