The Stig Profile

The identity of Top Gear's test track driver is a closely guarded secret. So keep what we're about to tell you under your helmet.

The Stig

He's a devil behind the wheel and he loves prog rock: it can only be The Stig - the test track driver from Top Gear whose identity remains a closely guarded secret. Until recently.

Born in London in 1961, The Stig didn't have the usual beginnings of a professional racing driver, where a wealthy background can allow total dedication to the sport. The Stig had to juggle his time zooming around racetracks at high speeds with the more mundane day job of working for a company that serviced North Sea oil rigs.

Gradually working through the junior categories of European motor sport, The Stig soon became known as a highly gifted (if also slightly erratic) racing driver. Eventually The Stig was selected to test for the Arrows Formula 1 team and, despite making his mark in the squad, his big break didn't arrive until the start of the 1992 Formula 1 season, when the Andrea Moda team snapped him up.

It looked like big things were finally on the horizon for The Stig but, alas, the badly managed Andrea Moda team proved to be a bit of a shambles and their 1992 season soon fell apart. Amongst other things, The Stig rarely got more than a few practice laps at each event and he failed to qualify on each occasion. He eventually quit the team before the end of the season.

The Stig never raced in Formula 1 again, although he did test for both the Williams and Benetton teams throughout the 1990s. And then, in 2001, the BBC came calling and for three years The Stig got to tear round the Top Gear race track, taking the latest supercars to their absolute limit. He even got to help instruct celebrity guests before they attempt to conquer the track in the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car section of the show.

In 2003, The Stig released his autobiography entitled Flat Out, Flat Broke, in which he spoke openly about his time in Formula 1. Whilst the book was well received, The Stig unfortunately let slip his real identity and a stunned world discovered that the man behind the helmet was in fact... Perry McCarthy!!

With Perry McCarthy's shocking revelation still reverberating around the globe, the unthinkable happened and tragedy struck. At the beginning of his fourth series of Top Gear, Perry McCarthy - as The Stig - attempted to outrun a Harrier jet along the length of an aircraft carrier. The world watched in horror as he failed to brake in time and plunged over the end to his watery doom. His body was never recovered. And that was that, no more Black Stig (although Perry McCarthy himself would live to see another day.)

Despite the almost unbelievable events that had unfolded in front of their very eyes, Hammond, May and Clarkson managed to pull themselves together and begin the arduous task of searching for Stig Mark II. Pretty soon - almost straight away in fact - they found a worthy replacement for their lost hero and 'New Stig' was unleashed upon the world.

Obviously wanting to make their own mark on the show, New Stig decided it was time for a change. So instead of the infamous black suit, they would wear, wait for it, a white one and become known as White Stig. Ingenious. And the White Stig's identity? Well, it's not been 100% confirmed but the name Ben Collins has been thrown about a bit. Well, a lot actually. But, whoever the White Stig was, they were promptly sacked after a revealing autobiography by said Ben Collins was published. And that is all we can say on that.

So now it's the turn of The Stig III. And well, we couldn't possibly comment on his or her real name…

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