Premieres Wednesday, August 12 at 8:00 PM ET/PT on Travel Channel
Before the kids go back to school and the leaves start to change, Travel Channel is keeping the summer fun going with its all-new series “Thrill Factor,” premiering with back-to-back episodes on Wednesday, August 12 at 8:00 p.m. & 8:30 p.m. ET/PT. In this 10-part half-hour series, hosts and thrill seekers Kari Byron and Tory Belleci take viewers along for the ride as they explore the exciting world of thrill rides, waterslides and heart-pounding experiences around the globe through a scientific lens.
Byron and Belleci are no strangers to experimenting. Best known for their work on “MythBusters,” the two are pros at investigating the science behind some of the most interesting and crazy rumors, myths, movie scenes, adages and news stories. Now, the duo reunites in Travel Channel’s “Thrill Factor,” taking their passion for adventure, travel and science to the max as they dive into the amazing engineering, physics and biomechanics that explain why these wild rides excite adrenaline junkies around the world. From racing IndyCars in wine country to studying what it takes to plummet down the world’s tallest waterslide in Kansas, each episode travels to amusement spots near and far, offering a different and daring thrill.
Kari Byron began her career as a sculptor and painter, holding successful exhibitions at some of San Francisco's leading galleries. Her sculpting skills and her interest in less traditional jobs led her into the field of model-making and toy prototyping. She interned for Jamie Hyneman at M5 Industries, which led to a full-time job and the beginning of her television career.
In the premiere episode, "Fear of Falling'" Byron and Belleci investigate how drop rides are designed to exploit our natural fear of falling to both torture and thrill us. Heading to Florida’s Busch Gardens, they take a ride on Falcon’s Fury – the tallest freestanding ride in North America – to experience the adrenaline firsthand. Then in the second half-hour premiere, "Battle of the Sexes," Byron and Belleci travel to Indiana to determine whether there’s any difference in how men and women react to extreme thrill rides. With the launch coaster Thunderbird as their lab, Byron and Belleci use high-tech biosensors to dissect the stress responses of male and female riders.
Whether they’re jumping out of planes in Vegas or riding the world’s first upside-down wooden rollercoaster in Wisconsin, Byron and Belleci serve as test subjects as they strap into these fast and frightening rides, collecting data behind the science of fun.
In 2004, Kari joined Season 2 of Discovery Channel’s MythBusters as a co-host with Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara. They became known as “the Build Team” and worked with Jamie and Adam Savage to test the plausibility of various myths. In 2010, Kari hosted Science Channel’s Head Rush, a spin-off of MythBusters that focused on science education. From 2011 to 2013, she co-hosted Science Channel’s Punkin Chunkin with Tory and Grant. After that, in 2014, she became the host of American Express’ Everyday Genius web series, which puts everyday life hacks to the test and shares the best ones.
Kari has spoken around the world about the role of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in entertainment, and she recently provided commentary at the 2014 White House Science Fair with Bill Nye. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in film and sculpture from San Francisco State University, graduating magna cum laude. She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter.
Tory BelleciTory Belleci has been in the entertainment industry since 1994, working behind the scenes. He was a stage manager at M5 Industries and quickly moved up the ranks. In 1997, he began working at Industrial Light & Magic, building models for such films as Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Some of his models include the pod racers and Federation battleships. Tory worked at ILM for 8 years as a model builder, sculptor and painter. His special effects and artwork can also be seen in Bicentennial Man, Galaxy Quest, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Monkeybone, Peter Pan, Scooby-Doo, Sphere, Starship Troopers, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Van Helsing. Tory has written and directed his own short films as well, including 1999’s Sand Trooper, which played at the Slamdance Film Festival and aired on the Syfy Channel.
In 2003, Tory worked off-camera for Discovery Channel's MythBusters, building sets and test objects. He joined Season 2 of the series as a co-host with Kari Byron and Grant Imahara. They became known as “the Build Team” and worked with Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage to test the plausibility of various myths. From 2011 to 2013, he co-hosted Science Channel’s Punkin Chunkin with Kari and Grant. He has also appeared as a celebrity judge on Food Network’s Iron Chef and Fox’s Hell's Kitchen, and he can be seen exploding things on his own web series, Blow It Up!
Tory graduated magna cum laude from San Francisco State University’s film school. In 2010, he volunteered in Haiti after the earthquake, visiting orphanages and installing clean-water systems with the nonprofit organization LifeGivingForce. Tory currently lives in San Francisco.