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Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge Host Rutledge Wood Reveals the Series' Biggest Surprise

Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge host Rutledge Wood says the show is both silly, fun, and packed with emotion ahead of its premiere. 

By Tyler McCarthy

Ahead of the premiere of NBC’s Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge, host and Hot Wheels aficionado Rutledge Wood explained how a show that’s designed to be a silly, over-the-top joyride through the world of automotive modification and toy cars ended up packing such a hefty emotional punch. 

How to Watch

Watch Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge on NBC and Peacock.

Wood hosts the series — which premieres Tuesday, May 30 at 10PM ET — and he’ll be joined by both contestants trying to trick out their old cars into Hot Wheels dream machines as well as celebrity guest judges there to cheer on the craziness. Speaking during an interview on the TODAY show on Tuesday morning, the NASCAR commentator said the show already had emotional resonance for him since, like many, his first foray into the world of cars was Hot Wheels. 

RELATED: Where to Watch Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge – Premiere Date, Celeb Judges & More

“I think, honestly, Hot Wheels, that’s the first memory I have of playing with cars,” he told the hosts. “Sitting in Alabama on my quilt playing. I had a little street grid I made, and I had a garage and I told myself, ‘One day, I’ll have a different car for every day of the week.’”

He added: “It turns out that’s what I do as an adult. So, it’s been a throughline my whole lie and now I get to do this and share that joy and help other people make their dreams come true. It’s unbelievable.” 

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The show forces its contestants to get deep and personal with him and the celebrity guests as they explain why these cars and their proposed modifications are significant to them. Wood is the first to admit that he’s the first to get emotional during some of the more heartfelt moments on Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge.

“I’ve got three daughters, I’m at that stage in my life where a good insurance commercial, I’ll cry. At one point I looked over and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Terry Crews is crying!’ Then I look at the other guy and I’m like, ‘Wait he’s crying, wait I’m crying! What just happened here?’” he said. “I thought we were making a car show, it turns out we’re making a show about people and what connects us.”

At the end of the day, Wood thinks that using cars to tap into people’s dreams makes perfect sense and isn’t surprised at all that the show gets into these deep places for everyone involved.

“Cars, here in the US, what that represents to so many of us is that idea of freedom and getting to be whoever you want to be and go wherever you want to go,” he concluded. “I had no idea a show like this could be so emotional.” 

Tune into Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge Tuesdays at 10PM ET/PT.