TAMPA — It looked like race day at Sebring. Hundreds of spectators lined the east and west ends of the Gandy Bridge, waiting Tuesday to see an orange and black Bugatti Veyron flash by at 200 mph or more.
Many stood a couple of feet away from the pavement, exhibiting great faith in the driver's ability to keep the exotic sports car — said to be the fastest street car in the world — under control.
Ryan Kingsley had gathered buddies in his pickup truck and headed to the bridge after seeing posts about it on Facebook.
"I heard that Top Gear was coming to the Gandy Bridge, and they were going to run a Bugatti Veyron about 260 miles an hour,'' said Kingsley, 24.
The American version of the British television show indeed had acquired a permit to close the bridge from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to film the car going across it, as the Florida Department of Transportation said in a statement. But when the crew brought the car to the Tampa side of the bridge and saw all the news trucks and spectators, it called off the shoot, said DOT spokeswoman Kris Carson.
"They were mainly concerned about safety,'' she said.
Crew members returned to their hotel to rewrite the script, and they appear to have given up on the idea of filming the car on the Gandy, she said.
Enthusiasts who arrived in time were able to snap shots of the car star. Among them was Kat DeNomme, 24, of St. Petersburg. She has loved exotic cars since childhood, she said.
And when she heard on the news that a Bugatti Veyron was going to be there, she had to go see.
"Just being able to see it in person is quite amazing," she said.
The spectators were able to take in other automotive art as they waited. Owners of other pricey beauties had decided to stop by as well.
"We've had a Lotus. We've had a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi R8,'' said Kingsley, who snapped pictures.
He and friends had arrived at 9:30 a.m. and were still there after noon. They stood in the truck bed and craned their necks toward the east, to no avail.
The show did film in other areas of Tampa, including downtown, with host Rutledge Wood, said Christine Shaw, a publicist for BBC Worldwide Productions, which produces the Americanized Top Gear for the History Channel.
The co-host, Tanner Foust, also had indicated on his Twitter feed that he was coming to town.
"We got some terrific footage of Tampa," Shaw said. "You'll see a lot of the city in our footage."
The episode will air sometime in early 2013.
Philip Morgan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3435.