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September 25, 2013

Car Vs. Wild: Off-Roading in Malaysia with Gary and Bill, Stars of Discovery Channel's Latest Show

Photos by Ulysses Ang
JOHOR, MALAYSIA—From the air-conditioned comfort of our SUV, I could see the trail getting noticeably smaller and smaller. As our convoy of 26 off-roaders slowly made its way through the muddy and sandy trail, the trees started to cave in, blocking what should have been the midday tropical sun. Soon, the trees thinned out and the mud turned into hardened, petrified sand. Only then did Gary Humphrey and Bill Wu jump down from their Jeep Wrangler, letting out a wide grin that almost said, “Now the real work begins.”

For a city slicker such as myself, treading through what seems like inhospitable terrain feels like playing Russian roulette—eventually, you know you’re going to get yourself killed. But for Gary and Bill, it’s all in a days’ work, escaping death in the new adrenaline-infused Discovery Channel show, Car Vs. Wild. Premiering on Monday, September 30 at 10:00 PM, Car Vs. Wild brings hosts Gary, a former British Special Forces soldier and Daniel Craig lookalike (but wackier), and Bill, an American car fanatic and a shoe-in for Mythbuster’s Grant Imahara’s younger brother, through some of the most inhabitable places on earth including the volcanic belt and craters in Veracruz to the suffocating, dense bush of Orizaba all with a single goal: to reach their final destination.

In order to survive the harsh and unforgiving environment, Gary and Bill take up unique roles throughout the course of the show. The high-octane personality of Bill makes him the default driver. His credentials include being an active member of the Hummer Club as well as having successfully raced in all sorts of automotive competitions from the Gumball 3000 and the Bullrun. Off-road, Bill learned his driving chops through practice and he’s highly versatile, knowledgeable with mud bogging, rock crawling, snow and dune driving. Meanwhile, Gary is a former Royal Marines and British Special Forces soldier whose survival skill has been honed through every possible environment.  After leaving the Marines, Gary served as a field producer, technical advisor, and security coordinator for several shows including Top Gear specials across South America, Albania, Iraq to Bethlehem, and the Race to the North Pole. And though Gary’s main expertise is in survival, he also has plenty of experience taking vehicles into unimaginable places including driving across North Africa and snowboarding to the Magnetic North Pole.

With “Car” taking up half of the show’s title, Gary and Bill have entrusted their lives to perhaps the quietest member of the team: Ruby, a 12-year old Fire Engine Red Jeep Wrangler TJ fitted with a modest 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Though the Wrangler TJ wasn’t the duo’s first choice (Bill wanted his favorite car, a Hummer H1 Alpha), Ruby proved herself to be a model overachiever despite being almost bone stock. With modifications limited only to a front-mounted winch, air intake snorkel, roof rack, and 32-inch tires, Ruby traversed through unforgiving terrain such as the Pinacate lava fields of the Sonoran Desert to the fallen trees and boulder fields that littered the Sierra de Juarez pine forest. Though she almost burned down, drowned through a river crossing, melted all four tires, and fell down a 35-meter high rock wall, she proved to be a survivor which pleasantly surprised both Gary and Bill. And get this, throughout the filming of all ten episodes; Discovery Channel used the same Ruby with just a single back-up (just in case).

In order to promote Car Vs. Wild, Gary and Bill were recently in Singapore to join a Ruby stand-in (there are only three registered Jeep Wranglers in the island-nation). There, Discovery Channel organized a 26-vehicle convoy that took off-road fanatics from the highly urbanized city streets of Singapore to Johor and eventually Kuala Lumpur. Joined by a wide array of all-wheel drive vehicles, Bill gave some off-roading advise (scaring a Jeep Wrangler owner in the process) while Gary offered some basic survival tips (including what to do with a condom and a tampon beyond the obvious), all in the relative safety of a palm oil plantation. Though the course lasted just three hours, it offered a convincing glimpse into the types of situations Gary and Bill faced throughout the course of the show.

Discovery Channel’s Car Vs. Wild highlights the complex dynamics between man, machine, and Mother Nature brimming with inspiring risks and practical maneuvers in the face of life-threatening situations. In face of insurmountable terrain, watch Gary and Bill (and Ruby) tackle it head on putting their skills, expertise, and quick thinking to the test; all in the comfort of your living room. Who will emerge the winner—Car or Wild?

Car Vs. Wild premieres on Monday, September 30, 2013 at 10:00 PM with an encore telecast every Tuesday at 3:00 PM, Saturdays at 9:00 PM, Sundays at 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That Ruby must have a really tough radiator. Especially, because it was run on a desert. I've been comparing the Land Rover and the Jeep. I'm a sold out Land Rover fan but I'm starting to appreciate the 4x4 Ruby.

    BUT, the look and design, definitely, goes to the Land Rover.


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