Wheely Disappointing – Gears and Tears


Being a motor racing fan isn’t much fun when all you have is Freeview. Bar the BBC’s excellent Formula 1 coverage and the BTCC on some random ITV channel, the only other option available to motorsport addicts is to delve into the bowels of the Internet for an illicit feed which, typically, is the size of a postage stamp and has about as much clarity as mud.

As a Freeview pauper, you grab whatever is thrown on to the TV schedule that happens to feature anything with an engine that goes around in circles, such is the desperation.

So imagine my surprise when flicking through yesterday’s listings only to discover the Beeb were showing the first episode in a new documentary series called ‘Gears and Tears’ that is based on, wait for it… Formula 1… Stock Car Racing.

Yeah, you and me both. You could quite comfortably write what I know about oval racing on the underside of a petrol cap. But beggars can’t be choosers, and maybe, just maybe, Gears and Tears would help get me through the bleak summer period while F1 is enjoying a siesta?

“It’s an obsession that’s divided two rival families for 40 years,” the press release proudly states, “two racing dynasties who, every weekend, fight fiery gladiatorial showdowns in thundering purpose-built chariots designed to push the opposition off the track.”

Which is, quite frankly, a load of ol’ toot.

Okay, so Gears and Tears does indeed centre in on two families who wouldn’t look out of place on an episode of Jeremy Kyle, but apart from that, it makes the world of stock car racing seem about as glamorous as herding camels and about as much fun as choking.

Of course, I should be talking about the 700bhp machines that feature in the stock car series, rather than the families behind them, but unfortunately, Gears and Tears is really just a bog standard reality TV programme, with a vague racing connection tacked on for good measure.

The majority of the programme focuses on this supposed rivalry between the two families that has spanned more than 40 years. But Montague versus Capulets, this most certainly isn’t. The wives, who hogged their fair share of camera time, certainly liked to have a good old moan, but in practice, probably wouldn’t say boo to a goose. Surely the producers haven’t over-hyped what is the core of this documentary?

I am always up for broadening my motor racing horizons, but I don’t think Gears and Tears will go any way in promoting short circuit oval racing to the public in general. We only caught a small glimpse of just how committed the drivers and fans are in this particular branch of motor racing, something that would have been a darn sight more interesting.

Instead, it is programming of the lowest common denominator, and I’ll most likely be catching up on my beauty sleep when it’s on again next Monday evening. How about you?


  1. I am a son of a stock car racer, the first episode provides a intro to the families involved. The remaining episodes will be full of racing action from 2009 season. Please give it another go.

    • I could be persuaded to perhaps give the second episode a go, to see if it can do a dramatic U-turn and genuinely entertain and inform about the world of stock car racing.

  2. If you have a decent internet connection, I recommend the £5 a month Eurosport online subscription. There’s WTCC, F2 and GP2 and it does for my need for a racing fix from time to time

  3. You lay claim to being a motor racing fan – so you ought to be fully immersed in the issues that surround getting any TV network, either terrestrial or satellite, to show motor racing coverage. Unless it’s football, football, golf or football we rarely get a look in – so for this sport to get shown, by a major TV network lets not forget, remains something of an achievement; also have in mind that it could quite easily have been buried on BBC 3 or 4, instead it’s a prime time show.

    Therefore I think we should allow the producers some leverage in focusing on the non-racing elements, but on the whole there is a great deal of racing featured and we are promised more on this front, in fact as with any new show there has to be an element of appeal to the masses, could you imagine the producers pitching 29 minutes of pure motor racing coverage to the Beeb, think not. Instead what we get is a blend of motor racing action with the human interest – the latter which not only done well on this occasion, serves the purpose of giving something for the non-racing folk.

    I’m sure if the producers would have made a film solely about stock car racing – then it would never have been given the light of day let alone a slot on prime time TV, there has to be some leeway and I think it was a good effort.

    At the end of the day, like you say, being a motor racing fan isn’t much fun sometimes, we inevitably get a rough deal, so with this in mind we have to take what we can get, if this means Gears and Tears has only a 50% racing connection then so be it. Let’s not forget they say it’s the story of one stock car season so I am expecting much more from the remaining episodes by way of racing, so it will be unfair for me and on this basis – you; to level criticism after only 1 of 6 shows: Lets give them a chance.

    I think anyone who professes to be a motor racing fan – should understand the above and to down this effort already is ever so slightly hypocritical!

  4. Docu’s (this is what it is, not a racing programme) always establish characters in the first ep. yes it was hyped up for dramatic effect but you have to remember that it isn’t aimed at petrol heads but to the general public.
    A little unfair basing the whole series on one one ep. give it chance it may surprise you!

    Stock car racing is a motor sport where action happens! it isn’t just a procession around the track….

  5. Wouldn’t say boo to a goose?

    Andy’s wife is Lisa Smith (Harter) ex F1 Red grade driver – she’d kick you all over the field if you had the guts to say the above to her face!

    Your third paragraph lists the program as a documentary and later on you even quote the description – an insight into the worlds of two racing families. Nowhere does it claim to be a highlights program of the racing season as you seem to have been expecting.

    Why would the program creators try and make Brisca F1s glamorous? It’s not, who said it was? If they’d tried that you’d be complaining about smoke and mirrors.

    If you’re so interested in ‘broadening your motoring horizons’, try dragging your backside away from the keyboard and TV and go to a meeting.

    Overall a sarcastic, condescending and generally ignorant review with misplaced attempts at humour. Try thinking before you write…

    • Overall a sarcastic, condescending and generally ignorant review with misplaced attempts at humour. Try thinking before you write…

      You forgot to mention: “Angry, armchair-based and bile-spitting,” to that little list of yours.

      Look, it was a reality show about feuding families who were as unlikeable as each other, with the occasional bit of racing thrown in for good measure.

      Maybe I’m being a bit of a snob about it, but the programme did absolutely nothing to make me interested in either subject matter. Nor did it make me feel compelled to want to tune in next time either.

      Difference of opinion. Such is life, eh?

  6. Dont count it out yet, I’m a die hard stock car fan, personally I prefer the smaller F2 series but stock cars in general on TV is a HUGE leap for us.

    If our only way onto TV is through the wives whining at each other so be it, I personally think the next few programmes will start to focus more on the racing.

  7. When the programme was mentioned in the daily paper’s tv guide, my partner informed me of it and suggested I might want to take a look.

    Now while BBC needs to create programmes which appeal to all and also shows that are aimed at a dedicated audience, what they seem to have done (thus far) is create something that is somewhere inbetween, and as a result is disappointing to the average viewer.

    I am surprised to see that the BBC decided to put this particular show on at the chosen time slot.

  8. I think that comes across as a very sarcastic, hardly factual, view, of the show from wait for it…”a motor racing fan” yawn. To get any motoring sport onto BBC 1 is a great achievement in itself, the 1st show was an introduction of the sport and the families of the drivers. Sure its going to show the wives a few times again but certainly not feature them as much as in the first episode. The wives could have been limited to the first intro for what most people cared, but they feature in less than 2 minutes all together so to say they had the fair share of limelight is an exageration.

    The next few episodes apparently show a lot more of the racing and many different drivers, so it will get better. Saying the “drivers have a vague racing connection” in a sport where the top drivers spend over £50,000 a year on and most also travel to holland and new zealand racing is pretty insulting. Most of the show isnt over-hyped, in fact completely the opposite, its done in a low-key type of format.

    Watch it next week and see how 16 and 17 year olds join in the racing in true animals of machines, its a proper family sport and one in which once you go, if you dont mind a bit of dust, most people get hooked and keep coming back for more. Better still, once you’ve caught up on your beauty sleep, get along to the next Coventry Stockcar meeting on September 4th. There will be over 12,000 spectators at that one who will be pleased to meet you and show you what its all about!!

  9. Thank you all for your comments in the past week. They have all been read, and read again, I can assure you.

    I was expecting some negative feedback, but I think some clarification is needed here to those of you who seem horrified by my views on the programme.

    And it was exactly that: an opinion on a programme. So let’s not forget that. I’ve never said once that stock car racing is rubbish. I have said that, based on the first episode of this series, it hasn’t been painted in a positive light and if indicative of things to come, does the category a disservice.

    Who knows, maybe I’ll turn out to be wrong by the end of the series, I won’t hold my breath, but I will be the first to put my hands up and say I was wrong.

  10. the series will get better from a racing side, as the bigger championships were raced for towards the end of the year therefore the last 3 episodes will please EVERYONE. please bare in mind that unfortunatly to get the series commisioned it had to contain somekind of alternative to just a motorsport show. hope you think more of the remaining episodes, after all you could not bother and end up watching big brother!!!!! such is life!

  11. Must be honest, as the wife of an ex F1 Blue Roof driver, I thought the programme (1st ep) was hideous. The pair of harridens from FWJ Team did themselves no favours and made themselves look even more vile than they actually are. Smith’s wife was just as bad. As a first episode it was deadly dull – who on earth cares about a drivers garden? More racing and less horrid WAGS!

  12. Obviously the documentary has made some impression as belle view stadium was doubly packed on bank holiday Monday ? welcome all new fans to a wonderful family sport !

  13. I watch motor racing but ive always been a full contact banger fan, since watching gears and tears i traveled to belle vue on bank holiday with 2 other people, we all absolutely loved the F1`s and have booked tickets to Coventry championship of the world on saturday the 4th. thanks to gears and tears i love F1`s and shall be attending as many F1 meetings as possible.,
    i agree with many of the comments, less of the woman and more racing. but the bbc are trying to make it entertaining by doing that. only 1 episode left, wish it wasnt ending as i really enjoy wathing it

  14. Just watched the final episode and this was a fantastic series the best for a long time lets have a second series please, something new,something different and something that interests me for a change, thats what i pay my license fee for!!!

  15. Gears and Tears shows an insite of what we do week in and week out whether your a racer or a fan of stock cars, 1 driver or another, it is hard to fit that all into one episode and i wouldn’t have liked the job of choosing what goes in and what stays out of the 100′s of hours filmed, i think we should be thankful we had a look into peoples lives and whats behind the racing they stage for us week in week out. i think well done bbc and well done to each of the drivers and their families time given to us. There definately should be a second series it deserves it (better thenBB anyway on the reality TV front!!!!) My family really enjoyed it from the age of 12 to 45. as for the wives that just makes people want to come and watch even more, it hipes it up… its like going to watch Man Utd v Man City. We are Smith fans through and through always have always will but i have to say i did see another side to Frank that you don’t see at racing at i think that was good. You can’t say the series has done no good as Birmingham, belle Vue and coventry was such a turnaround in crowd numbers lets hope the new fans get just as addicted as we are!!!! Good For the Sport… for defo

  16. Knew nothing about the racing series, but loved the show. Yeah it had some pointless moaning, but in the end it boiled down to how the drivers felt and the emotion of the racing.

    Huge thumbs up from me for the sport, the dedication of the teams and the fact that we do have niche (if thats the right word) racing series that can survive without huge sums of TV money… its real, its not plastic and its certainly not ruined like many other sports in the country by Sky Sports influx of cash, turning sport in soap operas.

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  18. I am an avid stock car spectator, having been to most meetings on a regular basis for over 40 years…I found the programme very entertaining as a side show would be, the girls were funny as there is ! and aways will be rivelry between drivers and families and why not!!! the girls put in as much work and more than the lads as they have to cook and clean and watch the children while Dad’s are out there doing their thing,that is the nature of the game, love Frankie hate Andy / Stewart and visa versa, as 20 odd years ago love Stue loath Frankie, and as the programme went over the said rivelry i am sure that if anything did go wrong on track or in the pit’s each would help the other.
    I did feel that people who have never watched S.C.R live did not get a real feel for the sport with not much shown about the building of cars and pit antics of the drivers in the time alloted.
    I feel there is enough coverage to make another programme of other drivers which would be great..well done to the production team.

  19. I really don’t think you should be allowed to write reviews if you have no idea about the subject your reviewing!! I’ve been involved in stock car racing all my life and felt you were very unfair in the way you described the people in stock car racing.. If you really are a fan of motorsport as you claim then get yourself to a stock car meeting you won’t be disappointed!! As for the effect gears and tears had I think the numbers speak for themselves with huge crowds at meetings after the program was shown.

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