Stig is a great name, an ancient Scandinavian name, heralded for its masculinity and ties to the ancient wandering heroes of the Netherlands. It’s a proper name for Stig Hoefnagel, a professional kiteboarder who explores the world with kites.
There’s just one pesky little problem with the name Stig: it’s denigrated by a mysterious race car driving character on an insanely popular English television show. If you have cable or the internet, and you like cars, then chances are you’ve probably seen at least one episode of Top Gear—a show about cars; new, old, slow and fast. Top Gear was once at the height of automotive television viewing with hilarious racing segments filled with antics by the show’s three British gearhead hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. One of the show’s most popular segments features the Stig, a fictional character whose identity is hidden by a shroud of secrecy, a Romex racing suit and a helmet. The Stig’s purpose is to set record lap times in cars of all types as well as coach celebrity guests driving jalopies on a closed racecourse.
At the outset of the show, Top Gear’s hosts couldn’t find a race car driver capable of speaking on camera, so they came up with a mysterious mute character instead. The Stig’s identity was anonymous to almost everyone on the show and was described as having a “very small brain, worthless opinions and a single-minded, stubborn and petulant nature.” In the Great Britain vernacular of the hosts’ schoolyard days, ‘Stig’ was the insult of choice leveled at new kids, suggesting an impoverished background and a terrible sense of dress.
Kiteboarder Stig Hoefnagel isn’t any of these things but his friends at The Stoke Farm, a Netherlands-based video production company, cooked up a fictional showdown between the race car driving Stig and the kiteboarding Stig. Set in the Dutch countryside, the two helmet-clad characters dash over levees and down narrow canals in an all-out race. To read the rest of The Real Stig and find out who claimed the title of ‘The Real Stig,’ become a subscriber of Tkb Magazine.
Tkb’s Vol. 16, No. 4 winter 2019 digital issue is available now. The print issue will be landing in mailboxes soon!