"Some say that his first name really is 'The', and that his left nipple is the exact same shape as the Nürburgring. All we know is, he's called The Stig."Most people drive cars. Many are competent. A few are exceptionally skilled. And a minuscule fraction can do things behind the wheel that'd make your head spin faster than the driveshaft. These gods among wheelmen are a marvel to behold, with skill, timing, or luck so solid they can start and stop on farthings, drive through your coat closet without scuffing the drywall, pivot in place, or power-slide round entire municipalities. Such beings will often possess Machine Empathy, detecting when something's wrong due to subtle changes in how their vehicle is acting. The natural habitats of the Badass Driver include tracks, car chases, and anywhere where something with wheels is trying to be faster than something else. Often seen behind the wheel of the Cool Car. Compare Improbable Piloting Skills for the Badass Drivers of the skies and Badass Biker for Badass Drivers on two wheels. See also Drives Like Crazy, which is often either this or its exact opposite. See also Graceful in Their Element for when they're clumsy outside of a car. If they're part of a gang, expect them to be the Getaway Driver. Female examples can overlap with Action Girls or Biker Babes, thus inverting Women Drivers trope.
— Top Gear
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Anime & Manga
- Speed Racer: He's a demon on wheels!
- His long lost brother, Rex, ain't too shabby either when he takes the wheel as Racer X.
- This is surprisingly a skill of the geeky, Non-Action Guy Martis in Pumpkin Scissors. In one episode, when he is in danger, this role is filled by an even more unlikely character, the cute Genki Girl Stecchin, who combines this with Drives Like Crazy.
- Gunsmith Cats:
- Gouzou "Mr. No-Brakes" Maguruma of Get Backers is a badass truck driver.
- And let's not forget Ban Mido, who sucks at driving in a calm situation but is quite competent at driving across lakes, taking corners at 90mph, driving backwards, etc etc...
- Fletch, Iono-sama's personal driver in Iono the Fanatics.
- Lupin III is often shown in chase scenes escaping from the police, expertly driving and pulling tricks while he does so. Although he's good, it's rather expected of a series that follows a thief as a Villain Protagonist. Why he's impressive is that he translates this skill into other vehicles as well, and as a Formula One Race Car driver.
- This is the entire premise of the (rather stupid) manga D-Live. The company the protagonist works for when not in school gives him vehicles and he bonds deeply with them and does impossible, incredible things. Even if he's never driven one of these before. Then they cite something that they didn't like, like he crashed whatever-it-was or got seen on the job, and screw him out of his pay. He never seems to catch on.
- Yui Narumi from Lucky Star Drives Like Crazy, but there's no denying she's horrendously good at it.
- Bunta Fujiwara from Initial D. He can drift an 80's Corolla Hatchback at insane speeds. While lighting a cigarette. WITH HIS EYES CLOSED.
- Leigharch from Black Lagoon mixes this with The Stoner. Hilarity and Crazy Awesome ensue.
- The unnamed Bus Driver from Rosario + Vampire.
- Straight Cougar of Scryed can not only turn any vehicle into a supercharged, pink race-car, but also drive it like you wouldn't believe. Yes, he Drives Like Crazy. No, he's not going to hit anything unless he MEANS to.
- Just about every single racer in Future GPX Cyber Formula, but Bleed Kaga in particular. His field racing background explains it a lot, since he uses offensive skills with his car, but he avoids using them unless in extreme situations.
- Osamu in his Knight Shoemach persona isn't a slouch in the racing fields, either. He drives a very fast red and white car, is nicknamed "The Supersonic Knight" and is regarded in-story to be the best driver of the series (up until the SAGA arc).
- Joe "The Condor" Asakura from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman in both his superhero and civilian forms.
- Togusa in Ghost in the Shell has this as his skill to lend to the Section 9 police squad. The rest of the team rely on him when they need to initiate a police chase. He's so good at vehicular maneuvering that he's the only one in Section 9 to evade the governmental forces at the end.
- Miyuki from You're Under Arrest!.
- Edo-Natsu from Fairy Tail. But only as long as he is in the car, outside he is an extreme wimp. This is in contrast to the other Natsu, who is very badass normally, but suffers from extreme motion sickness.
- Eriko from Dragon Crisis!.
- Yuu Himehagi from Geobreeders. She can be a slacker that only smokes and sleeps, but when she has to drive, she does it extremely good
"A driver's job is to drive!"
- Lolo "The Courier" Endive of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, whose second scene involves her effortlessly driving a bulky transport van as a high-speed getaway car, even if it means having to occasionally balance it on two wheels due to taking turns without slowing down.
- Mako Reizei from Girls und Panzer is probably the Patron Saint of Anime badass tank drivers. She is able to drive anything, anywhere, at ridiculous levels of expertise just by reading the owners manual. She tops everything by drifting a 30-ton World War II tank in ways that would make Bunta Fujiwara, above, gape with envy
- Karina Sakaguchi, driver for the Rabbit Team, deserves mention. Her skill at driving her team's tank in close quarters is instrumental in their defeating not one, but two much heavier and more powerful tanks. The first by circling around corners so fast they get behind their enemy. The second by driving in reverse to escape the enemy tank while simultaneously staying as close as possible to it to avoid being targeted by its gun and getting it to drive itself into a river drainage ditch.
- Jin the Taxi Driver from Canaan, probably the most Crazy Awesome taxi driver in existence.
- Diego Zhao (a.k.a. 'Rush') from the Rush City mini-series in The DCU.
- Freeway, a member of the criminal organization the Network and sometimes foe of Batman.
- Batman himself is almost always an incredibly skilled driver. Of course, driving the Batmobile probably helps.
- Razorback, a little-known Marvel character, has the mutant power to, ahem, operate any vehicle at an expert level, just by getting at the controls.
- Shortly before its demise, Disney Adventures magazine had a comic strip called Driver 10 about an entire organization of people with the innate ability to expertly control any vehicle at any speed who engaged in superspy adventures. Most of the Drivers had additional powers like Super Strength or generating electricity to overload machines, but the hero, the titular Driver 10, had only his driving skills.
- In Crowns of the Kingdom, Minnie Mouse is this. She takes control of Tomorrowland's Monorail, an Atommobile, and a Jeep in the Temple of Mara throughout the fic and manages to be completely awesome each time.
- Half-Life 2's Alyx Vance, according to Between Minds.
- In Intrepid, Taylor, due to her powers, proves to be an effective driver capable of pulling some outrageous stunts. She doesn't even have her license.
Film — Animated
Film — Live-Action
- Wesley, Fox, and Cross from Wanted.
- Frank Martin (Jason Statham) of The Transporter series.
- And, as a result, most characters played by Jason Statham in other films. The Italian Job (2003), Death Race, etc.
- The Death Race sequels also throw in Carl Lucas, a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Statham's character, a getaway driver so skilled that when he tears around Terminus Island in a junker he inspires the Death Race sport to begin with.
- The hero of the Smokey and the Bandit films, who pre-dated the Dukes Of Hazzard with the "moonshiner on the run from the law" character type.
- Burt Reynolds does it again as the eponymous Stroker Ace just a few years later. This time, he's a three-time NASCAR champion who is known for spectacular antics off the track as well, although we only see a few of these in the movie proper.
- A number of the characters in The Italian Job (1969).
- Any main character from The Fast and the Furious films. But especially Vin Diesel. But then, it's Vin Diesel.
- Though he doesn't start the film this way, Max from Collateral evolves into this when he stands up to Vincent and starts blowing through red lights, culminating in flipping the car intentionally in order to screw with the guy.
- Everyone in the Mad Max series. No, seriously, everyone. Given that the films are set in a Crapsack World After the End, it's a requirement to survive, so every character from the protagonists to the lowest-level Mooks are badasses behind the wheel of a car. The titular Mad Max himself is pretty damn good, managing to earn the title of "The Road Warrior" thanks to his skill with Car Fu and his constant wandering.
- Jackie Chan plays a version of this in The Tuxedo, in which he becomes a chauffeur for James Bond.
- Samy Naceri as Daniel in the french Taxi movies does incredible things with his car at ludicrous speeds.
- There are not few of these in Ronin, as evidenced by the against-traffic freeway car chase.
- Ryan O'Neal's nameless character in The Driver.
- H.B. "Toby" Halicki as Maindrian Pace and Nicolas Cage as "Memphis" Raynes in Gone in Sixty Seconds (1974) and Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), respectively.
- In Halicki's case, this practically qualifies as Real Life, too, because he drove Eleanor himself all through the movie, including every single crash and stunt scene.
- Elwood J. Blues in The Blues Brothers. It takes a lot of gusto to turn a car around at the end of an unfinished bridge like Elwood did. He can even speed through the dark of the night and outrun dozens of police cars with his sunglasses on.
- Just about every character in Torque.
- Lindsay Lohan played a budding Badass Driver in Herbie: Fully Loaded. Though Herbie did most of the awesome stuff, "Max" had her moments too.
- Herbie "himself" manages to be a badass driver without needing a pesky human behind the wheel; even when segmented into two or more parts, the parts can also drive themselves.
- Jason Bourne, as shown in The Bourne Series movies.
- Kim in Death Proof.
- Niobe from The Matrix is regarded to be the BEST driver in both the Matrix and The Real World.
- Driver from Drive.
- Subverted in Snatch. with Tyrone. He's introduced as an experienced getaway driver, but doesn't really live up to his hype.
Sol: He's a natural. Ain't you, Tyrone?Tyrone: 'Course I am. [backs the car into a parked van]Vincent: A natural fucking idiot!
- Italian race car driver Franco Bertolli is hired for his reputation as one in The Gumball Rally.
- If there's anyone better than Harold "Happy" Hogan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they can drive cars through time. His Monaco run must be seen to be believed; slaloming against the direction of the incoming race cars at top speed - much of it one-handed because Pepper is desperately trying to get the Mark V uncuffed from his arm. With the key in his pocket.
- Just for the sake of squee, the top speed of a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé is 155 mph. The average speed of the Monaco Grand Prix is 158 mph. That means he was dodging cars coming at him at a combined speed of OVER 300 MILES PER HOUR. Jon Favreau may have made himself something of a Butt Monkey in combat, but behind the wheel, he essentially made himself Chuck Yeager.
- More subtly, he also routinely keeps up during Tony Stark's driving adventures. Stark in a high dollar sports car, Hogan in a luxury sedan. From the dialog, it even sounds like Stark actively tries to lose him.
- Godzilla (2014) features a One-Scene Wonder bus driver who manages to drive his vehicle full of kids, including Sam Brody, through police and military barricades in the middle of an explosive skirmish between Godzilla and the Navy, getting off the Golden Gate Bridge just before the massive Kaiju barges through it.
- Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) in the Need for Speed movie. It then became Truth in Television though since Aaron Paul then proceeded to set the best celebrity lap time on the Top Gear test track.
- Miško Krstić in Who's Singing Over There? can drive a bus backwards, blindfolded, over an unpaved road for several minutes without any problems.
- One of Eggsy's skills before joining the agency in Kingsman: The Secret Service. He hijacks a car and manages to elude the police by driving backwards effortlessly a few miles. He probably could've gone longer, too, had he not swerved out of the way to avoid hitting an animal.
- Murrough from Therin Knite's Echoes. He (illegally) drives manually (as opposed to using the automatic AI driver installed in all cars) through a city where the average highway speeds are 200+ miles per hour.
- Believe it or not, Miss Havisham from Great Expectations is one of these mixed with Drives Like Crazy in the Thursday Next series. Her crazed driving scene is for the intent of getting bodice-ripper romances. No, really.
- The W40K universe has the gunner Jurgen, who is determined to make sure that Commissar Ciaphas Cain IS NEVER LATE! He will defy physics and all known road laws to ensure this. To add to that, he's gotten away with it, though this is most likely related to the fact the vehicle he's driving being a heavily armored war machine, and that his passenger can legally shoot just about anyone they meet.
- Shane Schofield from Matthew Reilly's books took an offensive driving course to justify why he can bypass a blockade by sliding along a concrete guard rail.
- Just FYI: the teacher of the course was an ex-stunt driver.
- The 39 Clues has Nellie and one time, Dan! (Oh, Crap!.)
- In the Indian novel The White Tiger: Balram, duh.
- In Artemis Fowl and The Lost Colony, Doodah Day is regarded as a master driver and is capable of driving any vehicle with proficiency, so that he is even recruited for his skills. His pack also contains vehicle specific gadgets such as a nuclear battery to boost a vehicle's power, as well as a portable rear-view mirror.
- In one Echo Falls Mysteries book, Ingrid drives a pickup truck, despite being in middle school! Though she doesn't engage in any high-speed chases or anything, the fact that she is able to drive successfully at all is amazing!
- Ingrid's grandfather as well, as shown in the climax of the 2nd book.
- Phoebe Van Zant of Tracked is the daughter of a famous race driver, and a top street racer herself.
- The main characters of The Dukes of Hazzard.
- Knight Rider: Michael Knight. Although you could say KITT did most of the work in the series, the episodes where Knight is behind the wheel of other automobiles make his own abilities abundantly clear.
- Nathan Fillion's character in Drive.
- Top Gear: Some say it's Jeremy Clarkson, or some of the guests they've featured on the show... all we know is, it's really The Stig.
- As a testament to how badass he is, he held the record for fastest time on the Top Gear Test Track in the Suzuki Liana for over five years, racing against a half dozen past and present Formula One drivers. The 'over five years' finally ended 11 July 2010, when Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello (himself an example of this trope) beat it by a single tenth of a second.
- Now Sebastian Vettel also broke his time... Or rather old Stig's time! Some say that his lap times are around 57, 58 seconds...
- The Stig is the most obvious one, but there's also Sabine Schmitz, the German racing driver from the Nurburgring. When Jeremy barely managed a full lap of the track in under 10 minutes in a diesel Jaguar (he got a time of 9:59), Sabine mockingly boasted that she could do that lap time in a van, got in the car and thrashed Jeremy's time (she got a 9:12). Later on, they challenged her to live up to her Badass Boast. Although she failed in her own self-imposed challenge, the fact remained that she did a lap of the Nurburgring in a Ford Transit van; unmodified except for the shedding of excess weight which constituted of the miscellaneous junk, the passenger seat and the Richard Hammond who was sitting in it at the time in 10:09.
- As a testament to how badass he is, he held the record for fastest time on the Top Gear Test Track in the Suzuki Liana for over five years, racing against a half dozen past and present Formula One drivers. The 'over five years' finally ended 11 July 2010, when Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello (himself an example of this trope) beat it by a single tenth of a second.
- Don't forget Jim Rockford from The Rockford Files. Of course, he is James Garner.
- Most of the Kamen Riders are Badass Bikers, but a few actually drive cars instead. Case in point, Black RX, Drive, and 3. Being Henshin Heroes, they are usually pretty damn good at it.
- Dillon of Power Rangers RPM establishes himself as this in the first episode, when he drives through Venjix's barricade in broad daylight using his beaten up, old car.
- In Healer, this was Moon-Shik's role during his pirate radio days.
- Angie Tribeca has David Hoffman, a dog. He ditches his partner just so he can do donuts in the parking lot.
- The various driving instructors of Canada's Worst Driver all qualify as Badass Drivers to varying degrees. They certainly have to be, being their responsibility to educate others on proper technique. Though host Andrew Younghusband is supposed to represent the "average" driver when he demonstrates the various driving challenges on the show, it's obvious he's been improving over the last decade of this show. The show's contestants, on the other hand, not so much. Special mention goes to season 3 contestant Thomas, who went from Drives Like Crazy to Badass Driver by graduating, going on to become a racing driver, and winning his first race. Bad. Ass.
- In the Violet UK video for the song Confusion, Yoshiki Hayashi is this. Both subverted and played straight in Real Life where, until a license suspension and restriction and getting his drinking under some control, he was known better for being a Drunk Driver and nearly causing a few accidents. However, when driving into his 2010 show at the Wiltern, fangirls jumped on his car. He managed to avoid hitting or running over anyone, making it a Real Life moment of being a Badass Driver.
- In the X Japan 2010 Rusty Nail PV (the non-anime one), this is subverted - Toshi looks like he's going to take on the role of Badass Driver as he got into the Maserati. Except it's self-driving and puts him in the gridlock of a traffic jam, and Heath, being a Badass Biker in the video as a Call Back to his predecessor in the band, gets him out of the car and onto his bike to get to their destination.
- Dino Attack RPG had several characters that fit this sort of character.
- Among the founding members of Dino Attack Team, Viper - being a former racecar driver - fits the role.
- It certainly helps that a number of PeabodySam's characters participated in racing championships before the Dino Attack.
- Heck, two of them are literally father and son sharing the family name of "Race" (King Joseph and Prince Samuel Race).
- Surprisingly, the elderly pirate Greybeard is another example, having participated in the same racing championship as King Joseph Race.
- By extension, even though we never get to see them behind the wheel, A5T3R-01D and Sir Robert Batrick also count.
- Montoya is shown to not really have what it takes as a small-time criminal... until he's put behind the wheel (in a flashback he was shown to be the getaway driver for the failed heist on Dacta Corp., and subsequently had to navigate a freeway while trying to shake off a relentless assassin climbing over his car trying to kill him).
- The Speed Demon in d20 Modern Urban Arcana is a Badass Driver with supernatural enhancements to his ability to drive his or wreck vehicles other than his own.
- Vehicle Riggers in Shadowrun can not only be a Badass Driver, they can drive 4, 5, 6 vehicles at once!
- In Atomic Highway, this is the job description of Road Warriors (battlecars) and Haulers (trucks), two of the five vehicle-focused Pursuits (the others being outriders, autogyro pilots, and "raiders" who get whatever's available). Atomic Highway being the kind of game it is, there's an entire chapter dedicated to taking commonly available vehicles like family sedans or medium trucks and bolting on the requisite armour plates, guns and rams, just so the Road Warriors and Haulers get to ride the post-apocalyptic highway in style. And violence.
- Players that mastered the beast named X2010 and its successor, X2011 from the Gran Turismo series are this. 1500 HP, design to be exempt of every racing design rule, light as a F1 and turns like an piece of iron running towards a powerful magnet on its left. Cool car, but only properly driven by Badass Drivers.
- Pretty much any sandbox game with driving in it (Driver, Grand Theft Auto, Crazy Taxi, Saints Row, Total Overdose, etc) requires badass driving to complete the missions on time.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has the characters mercilessly mock your driving. At one point, they tell you to go to driver's ed. And then you do. Harsh. Admittedly, it's an advanced driving school, and those classes teach you how to be an even more badass driver (even in-game, as every 100% earned on a test increases your driving skill by an amount that would take about half an hour – as in real time half hour – of nonstop driving), so that softens the blow.
- Franklin in Grand Theft Auto V has the special ability to slow down time and greatly improve his handling as a driver. He also starts out with the highest driving stat of the three protagonists.
- First-Person Shooters that have drivable vehicles almost always require this.
- A sci-fi variant, Joker in Mass Effect can do ridiculously awesome things with a spaceship, in this case, the Normandy. Joker is another Non-Action Guy due to his brittle bones medical condition. He is also snarktacular. Anyone who doubts that he fits this trope obviously hasn't seen what he does at the beginning of the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2.
- Throughout the series, it's shown that Shepard is actually highly skilled at either driving or piloting various forms of ground vehicles and aircraft. Unfortunately this fact is often overlooked since everyone else considers Shepard to be utterly dangerous when they get behind the wheel.
- Mention the name 'Greger Huttu' in sim-racing circles and expect an awed silence and people asking why the guy isn't in Formula One yet.
- Top Gear Magazine did an article putting him in a Star Mazda open-wheeler. While the skill is certainly there (he was quickly setting some very quick times), the physical fitness required of actual racing wasn't.
- Milo of Wheelman and its film sequel.
- Starting in Jak II: Renegade, Jak became one of these, with Daxter showing at least potential. In Jak X Combat Racing, everyone who was playable became one of these by default, even Pecker.
- Sgt. Moody from Call of Duty, who runs a little Peugeot through the German lines with his two subordinates to send an information to the American HQ. In United Offensive, he did the same thing with a Jeep through the freezing forests around Bastogne, this time with the help of an M2 heavy machine gun.
- Pretty much everyone in F-Zero, especially Captain Falcon.
- Or its players, who can master the game's Nintendo Hard difficulty.
- In Liberal Crime Squad, any liberal with enough points in driving skill becomes this.
- The protagonist of Zombie Driver as he drives around a zombie-infected city, running down everything in his path, just to save survivors trying to escape.
- Euro Truck Simulator features the player as an ordinary truck driver, who is encouraged to obey the rules of the road... but as they progress through the game's skill system, they unlock longer and more dangerous routes, until they eventually are hauling perishable, fragile and dangerous cargo across the whole of Europe on strict time limits and in foul weather, making them a Mundane Made Awesome instance of the trope.
- Halo requires badass driving if you want to survive for long in a light vehicle like a Warthog or Mongoose in multiplayer mode. Preferably with a passenger able to shoot at your opponents, but for those moments they can't...
- Kerbal Space Program gives us Jebediah Kerman. He could be on board a craft that is falling apart around him and he'll keep on smiling. When Kerbals were given classes and stats to level up, Jeb was unsurprisingly put into the Pilot class.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja's titular Dr. McNinja, with a car, a motorcycle, and a private jet in the most recent arc, but this might be a given considering the general craziness of the series.
- The current story, Army Of One, hand waves it nicely.
- When Doc needs a Badass Driver to support him, he turns to Judy.
- Liz from Dead Winter borrows Patrick's car.
- Kamikaze Kate from Misfile.
- Ash is a pretty good case of this as well. Consider this: When Ash and Kate race the second time, Ash is driving a car that, as Kate points out, "is almost as old as you (Ash) are". Kate herself was driving a freaking Jaguar (and a modified one at that).
- Ash has progressed a lot by the time of the race against Sheldon.
- Formula One, a Badass Normal superhero from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, who uses a tricked out Cool Car to fight crime. Other heroes suspect he has the mutant power to drive any vehicle as if he was an expert, but the truth is, he's just a very, very skilled driver.
- Whateley Universe example: Skids, whose mutant powers involve incredible driving skills, and the ability to psychically improve her vehicle, even while she's driving it.
- Red vs. Blue: Grif. Yes, that Grif. Don't believe me? Watch Revelation episode 3.
- In the S9 flashbacks, Agents Maine, York, and ultimately Tex give Grif a run for his money. It takes a whole Warthog full of balls to catch someone falling off a building in your car, about as much to ram a truck that your buddies are fighting on with said car, but what Tex can do on that motorcycle probably violates laws of physics.
- Wheelman from Metro City Chronicles. He can drive across the country in a matter of hours and drive up the sides of buildings. His powers basically revolve around the ability to do impossible stunts with cars.
- The Driver from The Hire, BMW's short film advertisement series. But then he's played by Clive Owen.
- Henry Chan from The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan.
- In Steven Universe, Stevonnie manages to keep pace and nearly beat Kevin, a much more experienced driver who no one wanted to challenge in a race on their first time driving.
- Override and Hot Shot from Transformers Cybertron are quite proficient. Being a Badass Driver is a requirement to become the planet Velocitron's leader, for the Transformers of Velocitron decide such things by racing. Override is the leader at the start of the series, and in the final episode when she abdicates to captain one of the ancient starships for the Space Bridge project Hot Shot wins the race to determine her successor.
- A special mention should go to the fact that Hot Shot, unlike the many other Velocitronians who were racing for planet-wide supremacy, did not even know that leadership was the prize for winning the race and he won thinking there was nothing to win. He just likes racing.
- Oh, and he won in his bulkier, heavily armored Mid-Season Upgrade form!
- Coop in Megas XLR, who naturally kicks it up to Car Fu when he gets a hold of hyperadvanced technology.
- And from the same people, Motor City's main cast is full of them, but The Hero Mike stands out in particular.
- In ThunderCats (2011) Panthro is this in his highly-customized Thundertank. He's even up for a game of chicken with the occasional giant war machine.
- Asami Sato from The Legend of Korra qualifies. Demonstrating her amazing driving skills during a tense chase scene where she is blinded by smoke bombs. She not only manages to tail her quarries but manages to shock a couple into submission.
- She's not just badass on the roads. She does the same thing on motorboats and in the sky with biplanes.
- Lance in Sym-Bionic Titan, particularly in the "Roar of the White Dragon" episode. Notably when street racing Mike Chan (who could also be this trope) and when outrunning a Mutraddi, while still managing to pass his driver's test.
- Most (if not all) drivers involved in forms of professional motor racing. Formula One, Indy Car, NASCAR, etc. They go absurdly fast around incredibly tricky tracks and small mistakes can lead to dire consequences, although increased safety equipment has reduced the risks. Plus, they have to race and beat a whole field of equally skilled drivers.
Alain Prost: Ayrton has a small problem. He thinks that he can't kill himself.
- Ayrton Senna, even The Stig said he was the best driver in history. It should be noted, however, that a lot of Senna's brilliance stemmed from his apparent total lack of an instinct for self-preservation.
- Wait a minute, isn't The Stig a real life example?
- Niki Lauda. Yes, he crashed and burned horribly, but they say he got back into the cockpit of a Formula 1 racer when he was still smoking.
- Dale Earnhardt. Some say that he could see how the air moved, which is why he was so damned good on super speedways. He was nicknamed "The Intimidator." That just about says it all.
- Special points to Graham Hill, the only person in history to win each of the big three of motorsport: Formula One World Championship (or the Monaco Grand Prix specifically), Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours.
- NASCAR drivers Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison after crashing into each other on the last lap of the race and getting into a fight in the 1979 Daytona 500. Even before they got into the fight they were some of the toughest drivers of their time.
- Jackie Stewart. To use the biggest example of his badassery, he won the 1968 German Grand Prix at the 187 corner Nurburgring, in the pouring rain, by more than four minutes! With a broken wrist! If that's not badass driving, then nothing is.
- Nigel Mansell, to the point that the Tifosi nicknamed him ''il leone" (The Lion) because of it. There is a huge list of injuries that he has suffered, only to jump right back in the car and carry on against the advice of several medical professionals. Add this to some insane overtaking manoeuvres and simply never giving up. Pushing your car over the finish line to salvage points and then fainting after? There's a reason he is one of Britain's most successful and endearing drivers.
- Many Formula One drivers (including Senna himself) consider Juan Manuel Fangio to be the absolute greatest example of this trope. Having won the Formula One championship five times out of eight, with four different teams, this fact is hardly ever disputed. The 1957 German Grand Prix is the example to show this as Fangio - on a Maserati - quickly got a lead of nearly 40 seconds ahead of the two Ferraris that were trying to catch up with him. A disastrous mistake at Fangio's pit stop halfway through the race made him leave the pit stop around 45 seconds behind the Ferrarisnote . No problem for Fangio, who broke the lap record 9 times in the remaining 10 laps (he cut the time difference with the lead driver by a third in the first lap), and ended up getting his final Formula One race win.
- A.J. Foyt, one of the winningest drivers in Indy Car history. He won four Indy 500s (only two other drivers have accomplished that: Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears, both badass drivers themselves), won 138 USAC races (the most of any driver), and in the 1964 Champ Car season, won 10 of the 14 races, a record that still holds to this day. He also managed to find success in NASCAR, including a win in the 1972 Daytona 500.
- Anyone who can drive in the Monaco street circuit at top speed, barely centimeters from the walls qualifies. Take a look at some F1 onboard laps to see just how fast and how close it can get. You'd be damn sharp if you could just register what went past you. As Niki Lauda put it, Monaco is like driving a motorcycle inside your living room. As many people would remind you, Monaco would not have been approved for races had it been built today.
- Take a look at the onboard cam at night at the Le Mans 24 hours, and you'll see just how little of the track ahead is barely visible to the drivers. Sometimes you don't know a corner's coming until they actually take it.
- Any race car driver's skills are fairly easily transferred to street cars, be them open-wheelers or modified production cars. Therefore, pretty much all competent race car drivers are capable of badass feats behind the wheel. One example of such a driver showing off on YouTube is Ken Block.
- Prohibition gave rise to an illegal and dangerous, but quite economically rewarding, activity: dodging the police while hauling contraband moonshine on modified cars. The famous "Bootlegger's Reverse" was named for just one of the maneuvers that such drivers would pull. What happened to all of those skilled drivers after prohibition ended? They formed NASCAR. See also Junior Johnson.
- "Precision drivers" like Russ Swift, who's skills include parking cars with a handbrake turn, and on one clip imitating the movie 'The Driver' using the walls of a car park to knock bits of the car off.
- The land speed record overlaps with Improbable Piloting Skills, since the driver who steered Thrust SSC to 763 mph was Wing Commander Andy Green of the RAF.
- Le Prince Noir (The Black Prince), a French motorcyclist, became famous in 1989 for riding one whole "lap" on the Parisian Périphérique expressway. Despite heavy traffic and a layout that's far from perfect for high speeds, he reached an average speed of 190km/h and top speeds beyond 250km/h. Don't forget that this was when stock motorcycles were limited to 98bhp.
- The most famous biker of this kind is a Swede: Ghost Rider (not to be confused with this or this fictional one). He did similar things as the Black Prince, but as he had better bikes at hand, he took them Up to Eleven. He managed to ride 68km of quite crowded six-lane motorway between Stockholm and Uppsala on a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 tuned to 185bhp in less than 15 minutes, reaching an average speed of 270km/h and often spending a minute or more at the governed top speed of 299km/h. He also did insane stuff with a 499rwhp turbocharged Suzuki GSX 1300 R Hayabusa streetfighter such as wheelies at beyond 300km/h on a runway as well as on a crowded motorway while weaving through the traffic. Ghost Rider even redid the Black Prince's Périphérique Run as a tribute—and became the first to break the Black Prince's record.
- This Russian Ghost Rider follower has balls and nerves of steel, too.
- Speaking of speeding in Sweden, there's also Getaway in Stockholm. High-performance cars with cameras mounted on them tease the police in Stockholm to chase them, let themselves be chased but not caught for a while, recording the chase with said cameras, and then head for an expressway where they escape at speeds out of reach for Swedish police cars. Like Ghost Rider, the drivers of these cars cannot be convicted thanks to the very special Swedish traffic laws.
- The whole mounting-a-camera-on-your-ride-and-flooring-it-on-public-streets thing is Older than You Think, by the way. The French director Claude Lelouch already did it on an early August morning in 1976 in his short movie C'était un rendez-vous. He mounted a camera on the front end of his Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9 and raced the comparably heavy and cumbersome luxury sedan through the streets of Paris. Although this was indeed released as a sort of movie, this does qualify for Real Life because absolutely nothing (except dubbing the engine sounds with a Ferrari 275 GTB) was edited, not even sped up, absolutely no special effects were applied, no preparations beyond mounting the cam on the Mercedes were made, and there wasn't even really a script except the route.
- This deserves recognition. Extra badass point for the fact that he was driving an IFV.
- Sabine Schmitz, the most badass female driver ever lived. Has done around 20,000 laps of the Nurburgring Nordschleife, and crashed "many times, can't count actually". This being a circuit that's 13 miles around which there continues to be fatalities on a yearly basis. On Top Gear she blew past motorbikes and sports cars...in a VAN. Which halfway around the lap "got no more ABS". And they say Danica Patrick is making headlines...
- Speaking of female drivers, there's this hilarious hidden camera prank where unsuspecting men went on a blind date with a ridiculously attractive female stunt driver. Once they got behind the wheel of her Mustang, she pretended to be The Ditz who couldn't drive a stick shift. She then drove the car to an empty lot and proceeded to scare the shit out of them.
- Jalopnik.com's hoon of the year, Bill Caswell. Enters a WRC Mexico rally race against $400,000+ cars driven by the likes of Ken Block (see "showing off on YouTube", above) with a $500 19-year-old rear-wheel-drive Craigslist car and no crew. Finishes third in class, and ahead of three cars in the aforementioned $400,000+ WRC class.
Have four hours to sleep, most sleep have had in a week. Car is perfect. Fuel pump fixed by the side of the road. Fixed rear sway bar. Changed to fresh tires. Fabricated new hood tie downs with a borrowed welder — had to borrow a larger generator to run it, too — b/c mine cracked off. Trans brace was held on with only one nut left and loose and halfway undone. Got lucky.
- You cant leave Ponce, the Minority Racer, out of the list of BA's. This Mexican-American underdog race car driver has managed to compete and finish several world class races in multi-motorsports such as the world championship of extreme rock crawling at UROC Super Crawl 2006, two consecutive WRC events in Mexico without any prior rally experience in 2008 and 2010, the King of the Hammers race in 2011, and recently contacted to drive on the same team with Paris Dakar legend Jutta Kleinschmidt and Michael Podologar to help the team place and finish the GORM 24hr race, alias the Nurburgring of Offroad. in Germany.
- Tom Cruise, who did all the driving stunts himself in Jack Reacher.
- Keiichi Tsuchiya. He isn't called The Drift King for nothing. He's so badass that he himself appeared (though not completely) in a special episode in the anime version of Initial D as the one talking to Bunta Fujiwara on the cellphone for advice. Not only that, but he was the inspiration for the character Takumi, Bunta's son. Though his glory years are now far behind him, he's still a Cool Old Guy.
- Unlike most motorsport drivers, he started honing his skills from street racing. If you consider the dangers of street racing, this is quite impressive.
- On the subject of drifting, Kunimitsu Takahashi. He is called "the father of drifting" for having innovated the technique in the racing world during the 1970s. He was a former Formula One and Grand Prix motorcycle racer and was the first Japanese racer to win a motorcycle Grand Prix in 1961. Tsuchiya himself learned some drifting techniques from Takahashi and later became the drifting legend as we know nowadays.
- Ross Dolan of the Death Metal band Immolation works as a truck driver for his day job. Now, being a truck driver alone is generally a sign that you're quite competent and know the ins and outs of the road like few others do; furthermore, given that his CDL class also allows him to drive passenger vehicles of a certain weight class, he was able to bail Nile out on a 2010 US tour when their own driver ran off mid-tour, as said passenger vehicles included buses. In fact, it's likely that if Immolation hadn't been on the bill and/or had not been in the vicinity of the rest stop that Nile was stranded at, they may have actually had to drop off the bill.
- Scandinavians, in general. The Scandinavian countries are covered 5 to 7 months per year in snow and the countries are located between 55th and 70th latitudes of North, so the weather can be truly awful, and distances between towns are long (with notable exception of Denmark). The driving conditions and climate simply weed out any unskilled drivers. Most Scandinavian cars are stick geared, so Improbable Driving Skills come as an extra bonus.
- The same applies to Scandinavian sailors as well. It has been claimed some 90% of all navigational safety devices (spar buoys, beacons, lighthouses) of the world are located either in the Swedish or Finnish archipelago.