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The Stig to wow MPH 2010

2010-01-08 09:42

BP Ultimate

Joining presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and MC Sasha Martinengo at Top Gear Live 2010, powered by BP Ultimate, will be another Top Gear presenter, none other than the iconic anonymous test driver “The Stig” and lead precision driver, Paul Swift.

But who is the current “Stig” and what does he have for breakfast? Although the identity of the original “Stig” is known, very little is known about the current Stig, other than the fact that he enjoys strong black coffee and cigarettes for breakfast. Although how he manages to eat and drink while wearing his helmet remains a mystery.

The original “Stig”, who wore a black racing overall and helmet, was racing driver Perry McCarthy, who let this fact slip in his book “Flat out, Flat broke”.  This resulted in the “Stig” being ‘killed off’ at the end of the 3rd season of Top Gear.  Richard Hammond is quoted as saying “They hired the mouthiest racing driver there was – and then shut him up.”

Originally the anonymous driver was going to be called “The Gimp”. (Gimp (n) a usually derogatory term used to refer to a sexually submissive person, typically dressed in black leather).  Eventually the name was changed to “The Stig”, the name coming from Jeremy Clarkson’s days at Repton School, where new students were referred to as “Stig” and the new version boasted a white racing overall and helmet.

Does McCarthy know the identity of the current Stig?  “Yes I do. But I’m not going to spoil it. There’s a few of them, I think…”

One mission

The identity of the Stig is one of the best-kept secrets in the television industry. His sole mission on Top Gear is to produce the fastest lap times in exotic supercars.

Odds on favourite for the title of “The Stig”, is ex British F1 driver Damon Hill. When asked at a recent event if he was “The Stig”, Hill added fuel to this rumour by replying; "I am not the Stig. But then, only the true Messiah denies his divinity."  Hill is seen as being too busy being the President of the British Racing Drivers Club to fulfill the role of “The Stig”.

The outsider in “The Stig” poll is Ellen MacArthur who holds the fastest celebrity lap on the Top Gear track, set in an old Suzuki Liana.  Could Ellen be ”The Stig”? Although her driving skills are not in question, her physical stature does not match that of “The Stig”.

While there have been rumours that Jeremy Clarkson could possibly be “The Stig”, his busy career would keep him out of the white racing overall and helmet.

So although the identity of “The Stig” is still the best kept motor industry secret, the show also boasts one of the industries most famous drivers…

Paul Swift who returns to South Africa for Top Gear Live 2010.

Keeping the wheels spinning and the crowds enthralled is the job of stunt driver Paul Swift and his team of precision drivers. Swift, by name and profession, is one of the few people who can claim to have driven circles around both Top Gear presenters. At last year’s show, Paul broke the World Record for the J-Turn; Guinness World Records defines a J-turn as turning a car through 180º from reversing in a straight line to driving forwards in a straight line.

Job too dangerous?

His job is seen as so dangerous, that no insurance companies are prepared to offer him cover.

Paul Swift is quoted as saying: “Because of my job, insurance men imagine that danger follows me around. The irony is that I have never had an accident, I don’t even have points on my license and the only time I have been to hospital is because of my nut allergy”.

Paul’s driving career began in Darlington England in 1986 when he learnt to put the family lawn mower on two wheels.  At age 7, Paul proved his skills when he was able to keep the family lawnmower on 2 wheels for 230m, thus setting a world record! At 16 Paul turned his attention to motorsport and at 18 he won his local Autotest championship.

With more than 20 years of driving experience, Paul has seven British titles to his name.

A mechanical engineer by profession, Paul gave this up in 2003 to form a precision stunt driving team. Since then he and his team have performed over 1 000 driving demonstrations at events around the world.

Paul commented, “We are very excited about returning to South Africa this year, the crowds were amazing last year so we really want to go one better and give them something special to remember in 2010”.

“The Stig” together with Paul Swift and his team, will have the audience on the edge of their seats with their “don’t try this at home” stunts.

•    Top Gear Live is powered by BP Ultimate – BP’s globally acclaimed performance fuel brand.
•    For further information please go to www.mphjoburg.co.za


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