Another Mystery Revealed – The Stig Unmasked

by roshi on June 25, 2009

in autos, Video Stream

the-stig

He is a part human, part machine. We don’t know its name, nobody knows its name. it’s a racing driver.” The Stig have a very small brain, worthless opinions, and a disorder “Mansell Syndrome”. Its job description is to “just go out there and drive fast”. He doesn’t speak. Some say he’s a CIA experiment gone wrong.

To viewers of Top Gear, the Stig is a mystery – part man, part machine with his face always hidden by a helmet. Speculating on the identity of the driver, who posts lap times for cars being reviewed and trains celebrities to race round a circuit, has become part of the BBC2 show’s mythology. The Stig is the name given to the racing driver on the BBC show Top Gear. In the show he is cast as a mysterious “tame racing driver”. The Stig’s primary functions on the show are to post lap times in various cars around the Top Gear Test Track in Dunsfold Park, and to train each week’s guest in setting a lap time in the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car feature on the show. In addition the Stig carries out other driving duties when the need arises. The Stig has also appeared on some of Jeremy Clarkson’s motoring specials, such as Heaven and Hell and Thriller. There had been two stigs yet. The Black Stig who was killed and the White Stig. The first Stig wore black overalls and helmet. It was introduced in the first episode of the current format by Jeremy Clarkson as the resident test driver, as the presenters could not consistently post fast times themselves. Clarkson noted that “we don’t know its name, we really don’t know its name, nobody knows its name, and we don’t wanna know, cause it’s a racing driver.” Clarkson then described the Stig as having a very small brain, worthless opinions, and a disorder described by Clarkson as “Mansell Syndrome”. Its job description was to “just go out there and drive fast”. Black Stig posted a lap time of 1:46 for the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car segment. This Stig was used for the first two series of the show. It was then “killed off” at the start of the third series when he was shown driving a modified Jaguar XJ-S off the flight deck of HMS Invincible during a stunt and landing in the sea.

black-stig

Black Stig Dies

Some say that this was purely a stunt and not the reality. Some say it was true.

After the Black Stig was “killed off”, a new “White Stig” was introduced, wearing white overalls and helmet. White Stig has been featured in the show beyond just the Power Lap segment. His work has included driving cars in other segments of the show, and racing against the hosts. He has also been recruited to undertake other tests. White Stig has also appeared outside Top Gear in some of Clarkson’s motoring specials, such as 2005’s Heaven and Hell, 2006’s The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, 2007’s Supercar Showdown, and 2008’s Thriller. The Stig also collected Top Gear’s third award for Best factual programme at the 2008 British National Television Awards. The Stig did not speak, but supplied an acceptance letter from the rest of the crew, read out by Griff Rhys Jones. White Stig posted the fastest lap time of 1:44.4 around the Top Gear test track for the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car segment. In the first episode of the thirteenth season of Top Gear, White Stig unveiled his helmet to reveal himself as Michael Schumacher.

The Stig collects Top Gear award

Stig Speed

Brain Stig

Caterham vs The Stig

The Stig – Murcielago

Stig Revealed

But many say that Micheal Schumacher is not the Stig. Some day that there is more than one stig.

The Stig’s fastest official lap time around the Top Gear test track was 1 minute 10.7 seconds in a Ferrari FXX. Faster times had previously been posted in a Renault F1 car (0.59.0), an Aston Martin DBR9 (1.08.6) and a Caparo T1 (1:10.6), but the times of these cars were not included on the Lap Board because they were either not deemed street-practical due to their inability to navigate UK regulation speed bumps, or because they could not be purchased by the public. The previous fastest lap prior to the FXX was in a Gumpert Apollo (1.17.1).

White Stig was apparently revealed to be Michael Schumacher after setting a record Power Lap time of 1m10.7s in the Ferrari fxx. Up until this point the Stig’s true identity had never been revealed on the show. In order to maintain the secrecy, all shots show him wearing full Alpinestars racing overalls and matching Simpson Diamondback helmet. All that can be seen from the gap between his helmet and jumpsuit is that he is a white male with dark hair. It is also known that he wears Size 10 racing boots as discovered by the Sunday Times and a well-timed camera flash managed to show The Stig’s eyes by Auto Trader. Although the Stig does talk with celebrities while preparing them for their “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” lap times, he is almost never shown talking on screen, and in both the programme and Top Gear magazine articles he is portrayed as unable or unwilling to talk. Clarkson has written that the Stig is not permitted to talk on screen because “any opinion he might voice on cars would be rubbish”, though he has been caught speaking on camera. The identity of Black Stig was revealed to be Perry McCarthy when his book Flat Out, Flat Broke was published in 2002. McCarthy is a former Formula One driver and test driver for the Benetton, Arrows and Williams teams, and also tested for BMW F1.

The 33-year-old Ben Collins let his secret slip when he was asked to help produce a limited-edition print of The Stig in action.

Ben Collins

ben-collins

ben-collins-2

F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton with Stig.

f1-champion-lewis-hamilton

Further Reading

Stig at Wikipedia
Stig at Top Gear
Who is Stig
The Stig Unmasked

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