Dunsfold Aerodrome (Top Gear Studio Track)- 2007
The Liana was being retired. Stig had driven it around with every celebrity for the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment of the show. Ben explained via the headset buried in the helmet what the celebrity was to do. Stig's practice car was a Vauxhall Monaro, but he knew the Liana inside and out.
James watched Stig run his hands over her. Ben was here today, for this momentous occasion. He was very rarely actually at the track, on a day to day basis. Part of the reason no one could ever trail him to the track was the fact that he was barely there. He stood beside James, in a hat, coat and very reasonable fake beard. BBC makeup artists had their uses.
[Just me? Why?] Stig looked up from the blue Suzuki and asked.
[We know how fast the cars are, we know how fast the people are, but we want to know how fast YOU are. It's no good without a comparison. Besides, people want to know. They want to know if you are faster than the F1 drivers, or if any of the people have beat the Stig.]
The Racing Driver lifted his helmet. [None of them have.]
He would know. Racing Drivers had an incredible sense of timing. Single Track Drivers more than most. James had seen that from the Racing Drivers that had been to the track over the years.
Dunsfold Aerodrome (Top Gear Studio Track)- 2005
James was waiting in the production office when the car pulled up. He stood and went out, down the steps, to the car park. The man who got out of the car had greying hair and a goatee. His name was Damon Hill, he had won the Formula 1 World Driver's Championship in 1996. Well, he was partnered with the Racing Driver who had won in 1996.
"Hello, I'm James May," James said. He shook the man's hand. He was tempted to greet him with gestures, as he'd seen matches do at races. He didn't know if it would be offensive, though, for him, a man known as Captain Slow, to greet one of the world's elite in what they considered their own private language.
"Hello, James. Damon Hill. It's a pleasure," Damon said, and out of the corner of his eye, James noticed the fingers of the hand that weren't occupied in shaking with James, were moving in partially completed gestures.
"I'll show you around the production office until your delivery arrives." They went and looked at the crappy couch in the production trailer, the miniscule desk space, the kettle. "This is the closet where the Stig stays." James swung the door open, showing Damon the small room.
He looked genuinely alarmed. Then he covered the expression with a laugh. "Whatever guy you pay to play your Racing Driver must LOVE this as his dressing room." He still looked uncomfortable, though.
Then his eyes unfocused and his face relaxed, like a man spotting his lover across a crowded room. He turned towards the road that led to the airfield. The effect this achieved from the outside was of a man smiling gently at the corner of a doorframe.
James led him back outside and across the runway to the hanger where the Stig lived. He felt a bit of a silly smile of his own, getting more intense the closer he got to the cool, soothing presence in the hanger.
James felt, from outside himself, a surety come that there was a Racing Driver coming, someone special. Like someone it would be an embarrassment of riches to meet.
A van pulled across the drive. It was unmarked, but the men who got out were wearing Williams' uniforms.
The people from Williams literally sent a crate over to Dunsfold. The two men in Williams uniforms unloaded it into the empty room in the hanger next to Stig's room. They left it on the floor.
James stood back and watched Damon open it. It was like one of those ventilated pet crates, padded inside, with offset vents in the double layered plastic so air could pass through, but the contents were not visible. Inside was a humanoid figure in a yellow jumpsuit with the Williams logo, and a yellow helmet. He shifted, then sat up. Like a small child, he put his arms out to the man kneeling over him.
Damon hugged him, a blissful smile on his face. "Hey mate, I missed you, too." He leaned back. [Ready to drive?] He gestured. He did it with flare. He had a mischievous grin. The helmeted figure nodded rapidly. He pushed himself out of the crate with an old man grunt.
He looked over at the wall, to where the Stig was in the next stall. [Who is that?] He asked Damon.
Damon shook his head. [Who is what?]
[Is he my new teammate?]
"That'll be the Stig," James answered, still not totally comfortable with waving his hands at Damon in what the Stig assured him was perfectly sloppy, mumbling sign language.
Damon did a double take. "You really HAVE a Racing Driver here?"
"Yes. We'll go get him and he'll show your...um...I don't know his name..."
"Speed Demon," Damon said, fiercely, like he was used to defending the decision that had led him to naming his partner that. James didn't mind, he had been told that most men matched as teenagers, and were not always the best qualified people to name other people.
"He'll show your Speed Demon the track." James smiled.
"I always thought that was just a gag. To poke fun at the companies." Damon and Speed Demon followed James into the hallway and to the next room.
James opened the door and the white suited Driver stepped out. He stepped into his Stig pose. Legs apart. Arms crossed.
Speed Demon gestured a greeting.
Stig nodded his helmet.
"So you don't really keep him in that shitty little closet in the trailer," Damon asked.
"No, that IS just a gag." James walked out towards the track, to where the Liana was sitting.
[What are we driving?] Speed Demon asked Damon as the four stood beside the car.
[This is Talent Finder,] James gestured. He patted the car's roof.
[Joking.] Speed Demon turned to Damon, who shook his head. He turned to the Stig.
Stig crossed his arms. If Speed Demon couldn't get the best out of this, what was the point of calling himself a driver?
Speed Demon put his hands on his hips like he was offended. He huffed. Then he snatched the keys out of Damon's hand and got in the car.
Stig turned and walked off the track.
[Aren't you going to help him get the best out of it?] James asked, as the two men followed. Damon turned and counted down.
A sense of amusement came from the Stig. What could he have done to motivate Speed Demon better?
Speed Demon knocked several seconds off the best celebrity time. He drove 18 laps Each time getting steadily lower, until the final one, which was the same as the one before. He'd pulled over, then. He'd been able to tell to 1/100th of a second when his times had stopped dropping.
The next time a Racing Driver had come to the track was several months later. That had been a more of an incident.