Along with Jeremy Clarkson and James May, Richard Hammond is definitely one of the most iconic figures in the world of motoring journalism. From starting his career as a small time radio jockey to co-presenting the biggest car show(s) on the planet, Richard Hammond has entertained us continuously. Affectionately (and mockingly) known as ‘the Hamster’ because of his short physical stature, Hammond has had numerous memorable moments on Top Gear, The Grand Tour and numerous other special programs.
These days, Hammond has been tackling his mid-life crisis after turning 50 years old via some funny sketches featuring members of his family and a pick up truck on Drivetribe.
Obviously, it’s impossible to cover all the great moments of the Richard Hammond’s career since he happens to have so many. However, we will try to cram up as much as possible before the article starts becoming as long and unending as James May’s explanation of rolling resistance during an economy run.
As a simultaneous celebration of his glorious career and his 50th birthday, here are
The 14 most iconic Richard Hammond moments:
1. Richard Hammond Crashes a Jet Powered Car
When someone has had as many serious and life-threatening crashes as Richard Hammond, it’s hard to not get hung up on the crashing. It’s also fitting to start this list with his most horrific crash.
On September 20th, 2006, Richard Hammond was seriously injured while filming a sequence for Top Gear featuring the Vampire dragster. The jet engine powered car was capable of achieving speeds in excess of 370 mph (595.5 kmph). The drive was being filmed at RAF Elvington Airfield near York.
During his final run with the car, Richard Hammond deployed the car’s parachutes to bring it to a halt. However, there was some problem with the parachute deployment and the car went off the tarmac and rolled violently on the grass. Richard Hammond suffered significant brain damage in the accident. However, he made a complete recovery and returned to the show in 2007. Despite the accident’s severity, it eventually became a running inside joke among the co-presenters. The clip of the horrific crash was shown during the Season Nine, Episode One of Top Gear as well as during the Season 3 finale of The Grand Tour.
2. Richard Hammond Crashes an Electric Supercar
On the 10th of June, 2017, while filming for an episode of the second season of The Grand Tour, Richard Hammond was involved in an accident while participating in a hill-climb event in Switzerland. Hammond was driving a Rimac Concept One supercar at the time. Unlike his Vampire Dragster crash a few years early, Hammond remained conscious during and after the accident. It was Hammond’s second reported accident while filming for The Grand Tour, following a motorcycle accident in Mozambique.
The accident occurred after the photography for the episode had mostly been concluded. As a result, wthe only footage of the accident is of amateur quality and turned away as the accident occurred. Regardless, it can be clearly seen that Hammond lost control of the car because he was carrying far too much speed to be able to stop the car after having crossed the finish line. The car slid uncontrollably towards the edge of the hill, a section which no protective armco barriers. The car then went on to collide with a lamp post, receiving extensive damage to its front end and ripping the entire front panel off.
The car then continued to careen unimpeded down the side of the hill, rolling end over end multiple times before coming to a rest upside down. Still conscious, Hammond managed to drag himself out of the car as the battery cells ruptured, causing an uncontrollable blaze which continued to rage on 5 days after the initial accident. The Concept One was totally destroyed, with fellow presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May both believing Hammond to have been killed in the accident as they arrived on the scene, largely due to an error in communication that gave the former the impression that his “body” had been removed from the car.
Hammond did manage to make a complete recovery and flew back home to the UK very soon. Unlike Hammond’s first crash in 2006, where both of Hammond’s fellow presenters were told never to reference the crash again, with the episode featuring the crash only ever airing once, this crash was referenced extensively throughout the second season of The Grand Tour, with Hammond often as the butt of a joke. One such joke involved Hammond being gifted an alarm clock with a broken toy car on top, with the car rigged to explode into flames once the alarm went off.
3. Richard Hammond Falls in Love with ‘Oliver’
The 1963 Opel Kadett was the car that Richard Hammond drove during the Botswana Special episode of Top Gear. After a buying a tiny car which by no means seemed suited to handle the Spine of Africa, Richard Hammond started falling head over heels in love with the car,. He went on to name the car, Oliver. When it came to crossing the Makgadikgadi Salt Flats, Jeremy Clarkson and James May went on an intense weight shedding spree with their cars, removing all non essential parts. This was done to prevent the cars from digging in to the surface of the salt flats. Richard Hammond chose to forgo any such modifications for his beloved Oliver. Despite the mechanical problems Oliver suffered, it managed to travel the full length of the trip.
The only real problem Oliver encountered was fording through a river, where it sank. It led to the famous ‘OLIVER’ scream of Hammond. He worked through the night to fix it, and he managed to repair the water damage, proudly displaying Oliver’s fixed horn later.
The car was later seen on the Top Gear awards as the best noise of the year, and then in the Lorries Challenge, where it is shown that Richard gave the car the personalised nameplate, “OL1V3R”. It was ‘borrowed’ by Clarkson and May to be Hammond’s most treasured item in the Lorry Challenge hill start, but he chose to forfeit the task, as he didn’t want to risk damaging his precious Oliver.
Oliver also appeared in Hammond’s own show, Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab. Oliver also appeared in Practical Classics magazine where the magazine staff helped Hammond complete the restoration. Oliver also appeared in a Drivetribe episode along with James May’s Ferrari F458 and four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
4. Richard Hammond Gets ‘Pregnant’
Richard Hammond is known for his often, off the cuff, comedic remarks and this scene during his drive through Bolivia’s tropical rain forest on an old and decrepit Toyota Land Cruiser was no different. While driving along through the insect infested jungle, Hammond remarked that he cannot remember whether or not he had taken his Malaria pill. Following this concern, he went on to expand that if he were a woman, he would be pregnant a lot, referencing the birth control pills used by women to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
5. Richard Hammond Can’t Handle a ‘Three Legged’ Burmese Horse
During the Top Gear Burma Special, a Jeremy Clarkson detour resulted in the trio running out of fuel at a fuel-station less village in Burma (Myanmar). The nearest village with a fuel station was too far to access on foot and Jeremy Clarkson commissioned three horses to help them fetch some fuel from it.
Since Richard Hammond was the only one among the three with prior horse riding experience, he chose to ride the stallion in heat. During their journey, the stallion tried to mount a mare while Hammond was still sitting on it. Hammond fell from the horse as a result and had to be taken to a hospital which was hours away. Luckily, he escaped with a wrist sprain.
6. Richard Hammond Calls Himself a Driving God
This scene from an episode of the “lost season” of Top Gear, featured Richard Hammond driving the amazing Bowler Wildcat. The off-roader was so good and confidence inspiring, that it made Richard Hammond go so far as to proclaim himself a “Driving God”. After the sequence ended, Jeremy Clarkson and James May went on to promptly mock him for saying that.
7. Richard Hammond Burns a Train Down
In this hilarious episode of Top Gear, Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May decided to fix the UK’s Railway Network by using cars and caravans as locomotives and coaches. While performing his stewardly duties on the train, Hammond absent-mindedly started a fire in the kitchen car, eventually burning it down completely.
Despite a gracious warning from Clarkson, which train driver May dismissed, their train burned down to a halt and the passengers fled. With an ever positive attitude however, Richard Hammond looked at the whole experience as a resounding success!
8. Richard Hammond Gets Marooned on the Lone Wolf Mountain
Richard Hammond was dropped into the wilds of Canada’s British Columbia to test a watch with a built-in distress beacon. Unfortunately for Hammond, instead of a proper search and rescue team, the signal was received by James May and Jeremy Clarkson. The duo showed absolutely no urgency towards rescuing Hammond, going as far as to reject an airline company’s flight because its ‘stewardesses wore trousers’. Eventually, they flew to Canada, procured two pickup trucks, and set off into the frozen wilderness to rescue their EXTREMELY angry colleague.
9. Richard Hammond Swears Non-Stop
During a Top Gear race through London, where the hosts tried to find the fastest means of transportation across London, Richard Hammond competed on a bicycle. While riding his bicycle, Hammond was cut off by a rather run down looking van, and he was really infuriated by it. What ensued was a really colourful barrage of choice insults directed at the van driver.
10. Richard Hammond Climbs a Dam
Richard Hammond’s love for Land Rovers is very well known. That fact made him the ideal Top Gear presenter to celebrate Land Rover’s classic commercial and the brand’s anniversary. Richard Hammond took a modified Land Rover up the side of a nearly vertical dam. Richard Hammond is known for having some of the greatest and hairiest features of all time, and this is certainly on that list. This terrifying and exciting sequence is definitely among Hammond’s most memorable moments.
11. Richard Hammond Flies on a Biplane
As it was common on Top Gear, Richard Hammond found himself in yet another precarious position this time. After driving through the pretty Cotswolds town of Stow-on-the-Wold, Richard Hammond ‘won’ the race. Getting strapped to a biplane’s wings while it performed aerobatic manoeuvres was his ‘special prize’ for winning the race featuring three classic British sports cars. It was definitely one of the most terrifying and brave endeavours of Richard Hammond’s career.
12. Richard Hammond Drives a Formula 1 Car
In the year 2005, Fernando Alonso won the Formula 1 World Championship while driving the Renault R25 car. During Season 10, Episode Seven of Top Gear, Richard Hammond tried driving it around the fabled Silverstone race track, and showed everyone just how incredibly tough is it to drive a Formula 1 car.
13. Richard Hammond Does NASCAR
During Episode two of Season 18 of Top Gear, Richard Hammond travelled to America to immerse himself in the world of NASCAR. Hammond is very well known to be a big fan of American motoring culture and was very excited about his NASCAR tryst. He drove the pace car to launch the race at the Texas Speedway, helped a team in the pits, and went on to do a few laps of the oval track with NASCAR legend Kyle Petty.
14. Richard Hammond Drives a James Bond Style Submarine Car
Based on the Lotus as seen in the classic Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, Richard Hammond, with the help of some crazy engineering team, built the world’s first ever submarine car and put it to the test in this incredible segment. This is definitely one of the most legendary and memorable moments of Richard Hammond’s career.