Sunday, 30 March 2014

Christian Potenza talks about 'Last Car Standing' (Deccan Herald, 30 March 2014)

Mad about wheels

Juanita Kakoty, March 30, 2014:
In conversation
Christian Potenza, host of the show'Last Car Standing', DH photo
“Last Car Standing is unique because the contestants are using and competing with their own property, in the hope for upgrades for that same property. It isn’t like they go on a show with nothing and gain something.
They go on a show with something that belongs to them, with the hope that they can improve it. And that sets this show apart from any other competition show,” is what Christian Potenza, the host of Discovery Turbo’s automotive series, had to say.

Last Car Standing pitted proud owners of lousy cars against each other in a sequence of escalating driving challenges. The temptation was a $10,000 upgrade for the driver of the last car standing; or, the $10,000 upgrade could be passed on for a chance to compete in a playoff episode for a complete $50,000 automotive resurrection.

Potenza says, “Proper Television sent out a national call to find people with decrepit cars that they loved. From there, they narrowed it down to the best people for the competition. The contestants and their cars were meant for each other. They had a special bond. The first thing I saw was the love and pride that they had for their cars, which made me confused and empathetic at the same time.”

In each episode, cars were grouped according to class: From rusty old boats and sub-standard subcompacts to faltering 4x4s to rundown vans. Each of these cars must have been a pristine showroom beauty at some point in time; but over the years, these automobiles have been allowed to fall apart. The cars in each group were put through four elimination rounds and the challenges started with a race around the treacherous Hot Lap; then a gruelling climb, tow, or launch up LCS’s giant adjustable hydraulic ramp.

Then there was a head-to-head battle up and down the dreaded Drag Strip Challenge; and finally the Beater Buster showdown, which is the ultimate, punishing, automotive obstacle course designed to push each car’s capacity to its breaking point.

Hosting such a show takes a lot of energy and composure. In Potenza’s words, “There was so much chaos on set and I had to react while at the same time get the shot. And you can’t write or do another take of something that can only happen once.

The biggest challenge was learning to keep up with the energy of the show, yet remain calm and centered so I could do my job as the host.” He also gives a lot of credit to the crew of the series. “It was absolutely amazing. I have never done anything like this before and it was a learning process.

The crew was absolutely incredible, supportive, and enthusiastic. It was a real joy to come to work every day and all we did was smile! Everybody loved their job that summer. That show was a bunch of moving parts that had to work together at different times and different speeds. And everybody was in charge of their own parts. The crew ran like a well-oiled machine. It was a real pleasure to work with those people.”

Last Car Standing has given him, what he calls, “a bouquet of assorted flowers” for memorable experiences. He remembers, “In our second episode of shooting, a BMW shot out four foot flames on either side of it.

And then another moment, which I’ll always remember, was during the head-to-head race, when a 4x4 ricocheted off an obstacle and came directly towards me. And then there was this time when I saw a grown man cry after watching his beloved truck hoisted three stories in the air and then impaled. I have never seen a grown man cry.”

And talking of hosting a series where five drivers go through four high-impact elimination rounds until there is a sole survivor, Potenza says, “The most exciting part for me was watching these people go and push themselves out of their comfort zone and do something they have never done before and just fight for the honour of their car. To share that human experience of ‘I’m going to win and my car is the best’ was amazing.”

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