Somewhere deep inside of me, a motorsports nut yearns to be free. How else can I explain the list of drivers my brain remembers despite never having watched more than a couple of laps of Bathurst in my life. Scaife, Lowndes, Van Gisbergen – who even are these people?
The problem my inner petrolhead faces is that a much bigger part of me finds motorsport in all its forms completely boring. That is, until now. Netflix has finally invented a new form of motorsport so stupidly and cartoonishly entertaining I can't help but love it.
Hyperdrive has been described as Ninja Warrior meets The Fast and The Furious, but I like to think of it more like Tux Wonder Dogs for cars. The first driver to take to the high-octane obstacle course is a man whose actual name is Fielding Shredder. That's arguably not even the coolest name in the first episode – there's a guy from France called Axel Francois.
Shredder nails the Supernova, an obstacle where drivers have to reverse through a narrow row of neon poles before doing a 180-degree skid in a turning circle (a manoeuvre the commentators repeatedly inform us is called a "Rockford turn"). He aces the Lightbox, where drivers have to do a couple of 540-degree donuts inside a lit-up box.
But he comes a cropper on the Walk On Water, which is basically where you have to drive through a big puddle. He does it too fast, too furious, and floods his engine, leaving his 1997 Nissan 240SX 214 sputtering toward the final and best obstacle: The Leveller.
Remember the seesaw on Tux Wonder Dogs? The Leveller is like that but for cars. It's six storeys high at a 40-degree incline, meaning you have to absolutely gun in to the top and hope you can stop before going flying off the end. Despite his engine troubles, Shredder manages to clear The Leveller and make it to the end, where he laughs maniacally into his headset like Luke Skywalker after blowing up the Death Star.
The successful runs are good, but the fails – oh my God, the fails. "Damn," mutters one bloke after wiping out every single pole on the first obstacle like an Olympic diver doing a big belly flop. "Something's wrong with my car," read the subtitles of a Japanese guy nicknamed "Drift Sensei" after nearly killing himself on The Leveller.
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Drift Sensei is so cool. He's my favourite driver in the world for a full 10 minutes, until the show's true star is unveiled: Stacey-Lee May, aka the Queen of Smoke, a 22-year-old from Soweto whose dad sold his tow-truck so she could enter the competition.
Fellow South African (and Hyperdrive executive producer) Charlize Theron goes to meet the underdog and her family in Johannesburg. Stacey-Lee talks about how she was bullied at school and how her dad got her into drifting to help her be more confident.
I'm calling it now: Stacey-Lee on Hyperdrive is the most uplifting, heart-warming reality TV moment of 2019. Who knew doing rarkies could inspire a moment of such beauty and wonder?