• March 3 down the years

The birth of the original Stig

What happened on March 3 in Formula One history?
"The Stig" takes a passenger for a ride in a 2-seater F1 car at the British Grand Prix © Sutton Images
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1961
Perry McCarthy, who failed to qualify for any of the F1 races he entered with the hapless Andrea Moda team in 1992, was born. He is better known as the original Stig from the BBC's hit Top Gear programme. The popular after-dinner speaker outed himself as the anonymous black-clad test driver in his autobiography Flat Out, Flat Broke. His contract was terminated at the end of the show's second series. He was replaced by the white Stig.

1927
Welsh racing driver John Parry-Thomas became the first man to be killed in pursuit of a land speed record he had held until weeks before when a drive chain broke at 170mph on his remarkable 27-litre car Babs, striking him on the head. The car rolled over and caught fire, and by the time spectators arrived the partially decapitated Parry-Thomas was dead. In order to retrieve the body from the blaze two of his crew had to break the legs of the corpse to extricate it from the vehicle. Babs was buried at Pendine Sands close to where he died, but 40 years later it was recovered by Owen Wynn Owen and restored over the next 15 years. The car is now on display in the Pendine Museum of Speed in Carmarthenshire and occasionally makes appearances at historic events.

1992
Maria Grazia Lombardi, better known as Lella and arguably Formula One's most successful female driver, died at her home in Milan aged 50. She was the only woman to score a point in F1, although only received half of one, by finishing sixth in the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix. The race was stopped at half distance after a serious accident involving Rolf Stommelen, which killed five spectators.

2002
The season opened in Melbourne with the Australian Grand Prix. After a busy race involving two safety cars, it was eventually won by Ferrari's Michael Schumacher. It was an event of high attrition, with just eight of the 22 starters reaching the finish line. The biggest accident was caused by a collision at the start when Ralf Schumacher's Williams was launched into the air after hitting Barrichello's Ferrari. A pile-up at turn one followed, eliminating eight cars. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was disqualified for leaving the pits under a red light, and Enrique Bernoldi for using the spare car. It was the first appearance in F1 for Felipe Massa, Takuma Sato, Allan McNish, Mark Webber and the Toyota F1 Team.

1979
Danish driver Nicolas Kiesa was born; although he competed in five grand prix he failed to score any points, but did finish all the races. He famously won the 2003 Formula 3000 race at Monaco when leader Bjorn Wirdheim slowed on the last lap, before crossing the finish line, to celebrate the win with his team.

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