Since the Top Gear series first took hold in America in 2017, undoubtedly its most mysterious contributor has always been the unnamed race car driver donning a complete suit and helmet to thrash some of the world's rarest cars around, referred to simply as The Stig.
But what exactly does The Stig do? Beyond that, how have the character's contributions been instrumental in the show's success, and how much training actually goes into doing the phenomenal driving feats? Here's what we know about one of television's most mysterious adrenaline junkies.
The Stig is a highly trained driver tasked with doing some seriously intense laps around a course.
Originally created by the show's British counterpart's founder, Jeremy Clarkson, The Stig is a play on the nature of unnamed masked race car drivers who became synonymous with the sport of racing as a whole. And the fact that those playing The Stig hardly ever reveal their appearance is quite literally the series' longest-running joke.
The Stig's primary role on Top Gear is to act as the show's de-facto test driver for the myriad of expensive, unique, and even hazardous vehicles that come into the host's interests. The character is placed in whatever vehicle they deem for it and instructed to set the fastest lap time physically possible in it, which is then added to an overall comparison chart the show runs for all the cars it tests in its circuit in order to compare them.
Some celebrities have made cameo appearances as The Stig in the past.
Despite there having only ever been three official Stigs, there have been a handful of celebrities who have come in and filled the role of The Stig for an episode of the British version of the show.
The first black-suited Stig was the work of racing driver Perry McCarthy, who occupied the role of the unnamed race car driver for 22 consecutive episodes. In Season 13, Episode 1, The Stig was jokingly unmasked to reveal seven-time world champion F1 driver Michael Schumacher, however, he only provided that one cameo appearance. By Season 15, The Stig was revealed to be another race car driver, Ben Collins, who shared his identity as part of a court battle regarding his autobiography.
Since then, the role of The Stig has been tightly guarded and no indicators have been given as to who is currently undertaking the role of the unnamed high-intensity driver on the show. Despite being briefly tapped for the show's other segment, the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" (retitled "Big Star, Small Car") bit, The Stig has largely once again been relegated to anonymous driving duties.