British racing driver Perry McCarthy has revealed new details of his time as the original Stig on the BBC
motoring show Top Gear
McCarthy was the first person to embody the TV show's iconic faceless test driver in the first two seasons of the show after its relaunch in 2002 and 2003. He wore a black firesuit and helmet to conceal his identity, but he was eventually exposed by a Sunday newspaper report and 'killed off' in a stunt.
His replacement - in white firesuit and helmet this time - was Ben Collins, who worked on the show for eight years until he decided to reveal his own identity to the world in an autobiography in 2010, despite legal moves by the BBC
and the Top Gear
production team to stop publication.
McCarthy has now re-released his own memoirs entitled Flat Out, Flat Broke
which includes details of what it was like to keep his identity as Stig a total secret - even from the Top Gear
team - and even what it felt like to be a completely anonymous household name.
"I'm okay with Stig stuff now," said McCarthy. "I have been for a long while. But at the time, I slowly became disenchanted because there were some things happening behind the scenes."
The new version of his memoirs contains two new chapters about his time on Top Gear
. It includes anecdotes about how he put on a French accent to disguise his voice whilst working with celebrities and the production crew, and also explains why he left the show.
McCarthy said that he wanted to address some stories that have been circulating about his time as the so-called Black Stig: "A couple of them have been consistently misreported," he said. "Here's the deal."
McCarthy's autobiography also covers his racing career, which included a year as Footwork's test driver in 1991 which led to his big break - a race seat with the independent Andrea Moda team run by shoe businessman Andrea Sassetti for the following season.
Unfortunately the team's efforts to put together a credible operation faltered almost from the start, and in the middle of the disorganised chaos McCarthy failed to qualify for a single GP during the season. The team eventually completely collapsed leaving a disenchanted McCarthy out of work.
"My book has done better than my F1 career - well, it certainly takes longer to read!" he quipped.
McCarthy also tells the story of how he worked his way up from a childhood in Billericay, Essex and managed to compete in Formula Ford, Formula 3, F3000, Le Mans and various touring and sports car races in America, describing it as a story of how he had "started with nothing and lost it all," adding: "It only took me 30 years' to get out of debt!"
McCarthy's book is published by Haynes and is on sale at all leading bookshops, including Amazon.