Cameron Diaz vs. Tom Cruise in a Car Race

Biggest Movie Stars Behind the Wheel of a Reasonably-Priced Car

When the producers of BBC’s popular car show Top Gear were dreaming up a celebrity interview segment back in 2002, Tom Cruise was their inspiration. (Keep in mind that Top Gear is about as serious about cars as The Daily Show is about the news.) The thought of the world’s biggest movie star behind the wheel of an econobox gave them laughing fits and thus, the “Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car” was born.

But now, they’ve actually gotten him. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, who were in Europe promoting Knight & Day, had signed up for a lap in Top Gear’s standard-shift, right-hand-drive Kia hatchback.

The pair took practice laps Thursday with the show’s enigmatic, nonverbal and white-clad race-car driver, known as the Stig. Then they were set loose on the track and had their final lap timed and filmed. Later, they took to the couch (or in Top Gear’s case, a green vinyl bench car seat), where they watched the playback with host Jeremy Clarkson.

Hollywood A-listers Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz join Jeremy Clarkson on the Top Gear

After being quizzed about the cars they’ve owned in the past, came the moment of truth: finding out where they rank in the pantheon of celebrity speed demons.

Holding the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” record is actually considerd a point of pride in Britain — Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay danced a jig onstage when he dethroned Simon Cowell. Others in the top 10: Michael Sheen, Gordon Ramsay and Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt.

The show throws out the record book each time they introduce a new reasonably-priced car so right now, the man to beat is Harry Potter sidekick Rupert Grint. The week before, Andy Garcia set the fastest time for a Yankee, crossing the line three seconds faster than Mark Wahlberg or Jay Leno. (Leno loved the segment so much he borrowed it for his own talk show, substituting an electric vehicle for the economy car.)

Cruise’s race car training from Days of Thunder probably came in handy, but having the steering wheel on the other side of the car can prove a challenge.

Stars in a Reasonably Priced Car – Top Gear