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Fuelling Around podcast: Perry McCarthy on being the original Stig and competing in Formula 1

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May 26, 2022
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Top Gear’s original Stig Perry McCarthy joins hosts Jason Plato and Dave Vitty to discuss what it was like to work on the hugely successful BBC motoring show, his incredible career and how he became a Formula 1 driver. 

McCarthy, 61, has competed in some of the biggest motorsports in the world, including Formula 1 and the Le Mans 24 hour series. 

Elsewhere on the podcast, the retired driver turned after-dinner speaker, reveals how and why he was chosen to be the first Stig for Top Gear and the fun he had in filming the first two series of the revamped show.  

Perry McCarthy on his journey before Formula 1  

Perry McCarthy

Stepney, East London, is hardly the breeding ground for Formula 1 drivers, but the 61-year-old managed to work his way into the sport through determination, talent and a little bit of luck. He explains: “I always liked cars as a kid, but I was never really much of a sportsman. But I was drawing a lot; one of my hobbies was art. 

“A friend of mine, though, was into motor racing and he used to have this magazine called Grand Prix International. And I started drawing the cars and then I started reading about these drivers and that fit right in with how I was on the road, because I was a little bit naughty on the road to be quite frank. 

“Then I decided to go to Brands Hatch racing and I went around with the chief executive, who was a lovely guy when I was 18, which is very late. I had no karting career before. When I finished, he told me I was the best he had ever seen, but that gave me encouragement and he started to make phone calls. 

“Of course, you need money to ‘get in’. So I went to work on North Sea oil rigs for two years and came back finishing off my A-levels and with a bit of money. Went to Jubilee racing in the Formula Ford 1600. First year, I got a few podiums but had a lot of crashes. Second year, came back, won 15 out of 20 races and won the British championship. 

“This may come across wrong, but I was completely convinced from day one that I was an F1 driver.” 

Plenty more episodes of Fuelling Around to enjoy

Series four is motoring along at pace but there’s still a wealth of previous episodes for you to wrap your ears around.

A host of celebrity guests has littered the award-winning offering that has so far produced a string of cracking episodes to listen to

You can also tune into Fuelling Around on Spotify, Apple, YouTube or various other platforms if you want to see what all the fuss is about.   




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