ABC on 'Crash Course' for summer

Reality competition features extreme driving challenges

ABC has given the green light to the auto-competition show "Crash Course" for a late summer run.

The network plans to air seven one-hour episodes from executive producers Arthur Smith and Kent Weed. Orlando Jones ("MadTV") and Dan Cortese ("Veronica's Closet") will serve as commentators.

"It's going to be visually stunning and hysterical," Smith said. "Nothing brings out the worst in people than sitting in a passenger seat."

Each episode features five couples (such as brother and sister, best friends, spouses, etc.) undertaking four extreme driving challenges. The first three rounds have contestants performing such feats as driving on two wheels or navigating intense weather conditions. Contestants have to work together when, for instance, the passenger is given sole control of the brake.

One couple is eliminated during each round. The final round is the Crash Course, a large obstacle track.

"Any kind of conditions you can imagine you'd encounter while driving -- rain, snow, flash flood -- we take that and blow it up," Weed said.

The order comes on the heels of a strong return for ABC's other obstacle course series, "Wipeout," which won its time period Wednesday. CBS was developing a similar auto-based reality show titled "Thunder Road" from producer-director McG, but sources say that project is not moving forward.

Producers plan to shoot "Crash" in Michigan and are scouting backdrops that reflect the state's automotive history.

"It's great to be going to the automotive center of America. What could be more appropriate?" Smith said.

If "Crash" airs in August as planned, it will mark A. Smith & Co.'s third reality series to broadcast this summer. The company also produces Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" and ABC's "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" in addition to such cable fare as Spike TV's "Pros vs. Joes" and TruTV's upcoming "Full Throttle."