Just been reading on another forum (not a car one BTW.) about the identity of The Stig.
Most know that Perry McCarthy was the first, Ben Collins is the second and that other drivers have filled in.
Well, the guy on the other forum is heavily connected with motor sports and just slipped in the discussion this:
Darren Turner was the Stig for the Aston Martin DBR9 run, as one of the Aston Martin Racing team drivers. As you might expect, prodrive would only permit one of their contracted team to drive the car. Turner was the only one available on the chosen day.
Neither McRae or Herbert ever appeared as the Stig, however it is more than one racing driver.
Yes, as with prodrive, the DBR9 and Ben Collins, teams are only going to let a driver familiar with such a valuable car drive it. Top Gear have an appalling record with loan cars. They were given the Duncan Hamilton/Major Tony Rolt Le Mans winning Jaguar C type to test. Even though the owners representatives were present, they took it somewhere to the back end of Dunsfold to try for some doughnuts. Difficult or almost impossible to do with a 50's car on narrow tyres. They corkscrewed the driveshafts in the attempt. Since that became public knowledge most people in the classic car movement avoid Top Gear like the plague.
As confirmed by others and in the press, the Stig was Perry McCarthy. On one occasion, Julian Bailey subbed, but told everyone, so didn’t do it again.
Nicolas Minassian gradually took over, and Heikki Kovalainen had a couple of goes, and was the driver of the F1 Renault.
These days it’s usually Ben Collins, and Neil Cunningham subs occasionally. I believe Darren Turner has done another single go in addition to the DBR9, but no confirmation of that.
As an aside, it’s now a verb amongst racing drivers. ‘To have Stug’, means you deputised…
Thanks very much for the kind words. A few forum members know of my connections in motorsport and it wasn't too difficult to find out about the Stig. Long-standing motorsport marshals and officials (clerks of the course etc) are often in the know and we have a sort of a jungle telegraph on these things. Its a big network and unsurprisingly we have our own forums, but open to members only. A similar thing happens in industry and must happen in other sports.
Examples of the bush telegraph involve me knowing someone who works in the same rescue crew who were first on the scene at Richard Hammond's crash and knowing the marshal who felled the madman who got on the track at a British F1 GP. He's known as the "priest catcher" these days. We use the forums for communicating where marshals are needed and all manner of administrative stuff plus all the usual chatter.
On the subject of Ben Collins, he has been trying to get a drive in the Sears Craftsman Nascar series and with 38 events a season this may seriously affect his ability to be 'Stugged'. During last weekends Daytona 500 I emailed the Sky Sports studio to ask him about this but predictably they never mentioned it on air.
They're not that interested on the other forum but it's the first time I've seen this amount of detail.