• Jan 28, 2011


It's been over four months since racer Ben Collins officially outed himself as the skill behind The Stig's otherworldly driving talent. And, despite the bellyaching of fans and critics all around the globe, both Top Gear and life itself have continued to trundle on as if nothing ever happened. Sure, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have been forced to visit a Stig farm to find a new tame racing driver, and yes, they've even taken to gunning down cardboard cutouts of their former compatriot, but by and large, Top Gear itself is no worse off for no longer having the white suit on board.

Readers are given the best explanation as to why Collins turned his back on Top Gear.
Despite controlling our news cycle for what felt like seven eternities, Collins has rather quietly picked up a gig with rival UK car show Fifth Gear, leaving plenty of us to wonder what could possibly cause someone to give up a life of driving the world's quickest cars in some of the most amazing scenery our planet has to offer. Fortunately, the former Stig worked up The Man in the White Suit ($26.95 on Amazon)– a quick memoir that includes everything from his stint as an army reservist to his trials on the world's various race circuits. There's even a good bit on the man's time on Top Gear as the silent wheelman we all know and love.

Now that the dust has settled around the whole Stiggate fiasco, we settled in to give The Man in the White Suit a full read. Tucked between stories of training Tom Cruise to beat the life out of a reasonably priced car and vaporizing a Koenigsegg while attempting to put the supercar around Dunsfold in the quickest time possible, readers are given the best explanation as to why Collins turned his back on Top Gear for good.

Continue reading...

Collins paints a clear picture of what it was like to be the Stig, and it's one of loneliness and uncertainty.
For all his skill behind the wheel of expensive metal, Collins is no less of an entertaining writer. While he occasionally falls back on tired clichés or writes with a level of cockiness that's hard to bear, by and large the former Stig is as talented a story teller as you're likely to find beneath a racing helmet. Things tend to slow down a bit when he visits his time in the army reserves or touches on now legendary moments in Top Gear history. Stunts like piloting a diesel 3 Series in an endurance race or flogging a Caterham across the whole of the UK drag a bit due to their familiarity, but the pace quickens considerably when Collins turns attention to his personal racing career.

It's clear from moment one that racing is this man's passion above all else, and he describes his time in the cockpit in everything from Le Mans to a NASCAR feeder series with the kind of page-turning prose that almost made us wish the book had spent a little less time on Collins' exploits at Top Gear. If nothing else, the book is worth picking up just for the bits of racing goodies.

Collins writes with no less fervor about his time as a stunt driver for movies like The Quantum of Solace and National Treasure 2: The Book of Secrets, and readers get an excellent behind-the-scenes look at how some of the more intense driving shots of those movies were filmed.

At this point, you're probably wondering what the man who played The Stig was doing in the army reserves, racing around Europe and showing up for stunt driver detail when he had what must have been a sizeable paycheck from the BBC coming in each month. Throughout The Man in the White Suit, Collins paints a pretty clear picture of what it was like to be the Stig, and it's one of loneliness and uncertainty. While his character was known the world over, his name wasn't, and that meant that he could be replaced at the first whim of the show's producers. In the end, Collins' spot on Top Gear was no more permanent than that of the Chevrolet Lacetti.

Other than spending an exorbitant amount of money trying to prevent Collins from publishing The Man in the White suit, Top Gear and the BBC have been remarkably tight-lipped about Collins' departure. But after reading his side of things, we certainly can't blame the guy for making sure that his family's future was taken care of. Fans of Top Gear and racing in general will likely find the memoir plenty entertaining, and given that the book is going for the princely sum of $17.79 on Amazon at the time of writing, there's little excuse for not adding it to your library. If nothing else, we'd stick it on the back of the commode just to rile Clarkson.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Is it $26.95 or $17.79?
      • 3 Years Ago
      "but by and large, Top Gear itself is no worse off for no longer having the white suit on board."

      Err...they have a new one.

      "leaving plenty of us to wonder what could possibly cause someone to give up a life of driving the world's quickest cars..."

      Err...He's still doing that with Fifth Gear. The only question is whether he had that gig lined up before he walked. He has claimed he knew the end was near even before he published his book.
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's possible...
        • 3 Years Ago
        Incidentally, they got Tiff Nedell to drive the Atom against the S1000RR.. I wonder if he's Stigging in his off hours now?
      • 3 Years Ago
      *frowns on AB for advertising that clown*
        • 3 Years Ago
        Well, if killing a (Per your words) fictional (which means non existent) character to ensure financial future of him and his family and ultimately to practice his right to talk about his own resume and achievements makes you a clown...well then I guess am a clown along with most people in this planet including you, unless you are that selfish.

        Am sure somebody with the same mentality was calling the head honchos at Warner Bros clowns as well... Let me see...Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and now Christian Bale...Is Batman dead?? Can somebody please tell me if there is a clown involved in that??

        Who in the hell said The Stig was dead anyways?? they have a whole farm and a baby Stig was just born in Bethlehem during the holidays. Another mystery driver will be hired and nobody will know his identity...kind of like a clown under his make up.

        If anything, am disappointed because The new Stig has a HUGE white helmet to fill in, not an easy job for no one.
        • 3 Years Ago
        ...for closing the doors while he was leaving.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Yaroukh

        sorry, didn't know you're on the he ruined the show camp. I'm on the, he made the show more interesting by revealing and creating more drama for them. They should thank him.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ Yaroukh. No matter how eloquent you are trying to sound, you fail to come genuinely across with your point as name calling is extremely unnecessary and one of the lowest things to resort to. Is all about opinions and I was giving mine. I do not have the foggiest idea of how my comment is summarized in "if am not stealing from you, am stealing from your family". My comment was about the fact that the guy had a right and he exercised it, live with it and get over it. The Stig's "Magic" comes from behind the wheel and within the helmet. there will be a new stig no matter what we all say and he will remain a mystery as well so I don't even know why calling people stupid or of the low kind really matters. Only people that pose themselves into pedestals talk and be opinionated like that, with no room for more than their opinion, it must be lonely up there and that's as low as am gona go so you can perhaps understand that i am gona be an adult and just agree to disagree with you. The stig was outed, you dont like it, i dont see the problem, that summarizes this entire thread, hopefully we don't have to continue with the "unnecessary" as anything following just will be...
        • 3 Years Ago
        @karankshah: we can agree on the last word you used
        • 3 Years Ago
        That's one clown that can drive circle around you in just about anything!
        • 3 Years Ago
        @cFoo: Dude you must be real Soviet scientist!! O.o

        No one disputed his driving skills. But apparently what he likes even more is ruining popular fictional characters on the best motoring entertainment show.
        Good riddance.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @hinkenshoken: Once again for the slower ones among us: part of Stig's "magic" is that no one knew who he was. Stop acting like you're stupid... or...?

        As for me being selfish if I hadn't reveal myself in his place to make profit - there was one kinda self-mocking sarcastic saying in our country, in our socialist times: "if you're not stealing you're stealing from your family"... That kinda summarizes your comment. And I don't share this low attitude.
        • 3 Years Ago
        He's hardly ruined the character - it's a practical certainty that there are many drivers that play the stig at various times. He's the only one that's revealed himself, and the mysticism behind who plays him continues.

        The extra money the beeb threw at the case was likely as much to prevent him from speaking about the other stigs as it was to keep him from talking.

        And besides the point, the fact that they fired him as soon as he revealed himself means that we still don't know who the stig is.

        The only people this ruins the show for is the people that actually thought he was a robot, or alien, or whatever.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'd rather go with Sir Alec's 1951 movie of the original name.
      • 3 Years Ago
      There was a TG episode where pro race driver Ben Collins was used to race a kid on an all terrain skateboard. I guess they forgot to pack the suit with them.
      He was a big part of the most popular TV show in the world ( the " I am the Stig " shirts were selling well.). They used the character for a lot more than just the lap times (Stig taking the tube...c'mon that was good). I'd want to get paid well for that.
      I watched the start of the new season and they are referring to him as "sacked Stig" and said they compared new Stig's times to Sacked Stig in various cars and claim they are close.
      The Stig farm was funny and Stig in the manger was the only funny part of the Iraq special.
      I haven't decided if I will read the book yet though.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't care whether he has the rights to write a book or enjoy the fame, he turned his back on millions of fans who have loved and supported The Stig, that's what A holes do.
        • 3 Years Ago
        What makes Stig a Stig is his helmet, lame radio and the fact that nobody knows who he is...
        Hopefully the new guy will have more self respect than this pri*k.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Fans loved "The Stig" not Ben Collins.

        There is still a Stig.

        So no big deal right. The only loss was Collins'
        • 3 Years Ago
        Sorry but sounds to me like if somebody was calling Michael keaton or Val Kilmer A-holes cause they got recasted. the stig is a fictional character that can be filled in by anybody that can wear a white helmet and drive the hell out of supercars. People is selfishly turning their backs on him but what if BBC decided to replace him, you wouldnt have even known that, He wanted to ensure the future of his family, he probably knew his days as The Stig were counted so he went ahead and did what was best for him and his family, after all, his skills, his career belongs to him. If you were in his shoes you would know that people bashing him are the real A-holes.

        There is a Farm full of Stigs of all colors and a New Baby Stig was born in Bethelem during the holidays so what is everybody tripping about. Ben Collins wasnt the Stig, he was a Driver Playing the role of The Stig Character, now let the BBC hire a new one so everyone can finally move on...
      • 3 Years Ago
      U go Ben !!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Plus, based on the very first episode of S16 of Top gear, the new Stig seems to potentially be faster than Collins was.

      Sure the Ariel atom is expected to be the fastest car around the track so that isn't what surprised me. it was how much faster the new Stig was able to teach the guest. He beat Tom Cruises time by over a full second and the guy admittedly had 0 experience on the track.

      We'll see how the rest of the series plays out though.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yeah, the US TG has a Stig. Its really hard to tell if he's faster than the Brit one just due to the different nature of the two courses.
        • 3 Years Ago
        usa stig, paul tracy, just a hunch.
        • 3 Years Ago
        re DX & Campasini1 - Cheers for the info, at some point in future it would be good to see a dual between the two!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Tiff Needell is driving the Atom and he is a very talented driver with a long career driving a variety of racing cars including driving for Jaguar at Le Mans. By all accounts it would be very hard to find a nicer bloke. He used to be on the old TG and Fifth Gear but his racing career started in the very early 70's in Formula Ford and he still crops up at various racing events here in the UK, not bad for a 60 year old!

        The 'Stig' was a good brand for the show but what to do next?

        Tiff is not only a great driver but a very popular and knowledgeable TV presenter but he is not a faceless 'Stig' he is to much of a personality for that.

        A Big Dilemma!

        PS - I have little knowledge of the USA TG, do they have a 'Stig'?
      • 3 Years Ago
      I read it as well. Not much in the way of Top Gear revelations, in fact it's mostly a love-fest. I found the army bits a little tedious and the racing bits the most interesting. Overall it's a decent read, 6.5/10. The reason given is that he wanted a bigger, or at least somewhat more equitable share of the money as the 4th member of the TG team, can't really fault him for that. I enjoyed "Black Stig's" book, aka Perry McCarthy, a little more.
      • 3 Years Ago
      @ Hinkenshoken,

      I was thinking that too. That the BBC may have been thinking of replacing Ben so he made the first move to protect his family and future. I think I would have done the same thing if I were in his shoes. I think MOST people would if they were in his shoes.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Who cares they have a new white Stig now. Ben Collins is old news. Time to move on.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've seen him a couple of times on Fifth Gear. It takes 30 seconds to realize why no one at the BBC wanted him to talk, he's so annoying.
    • Load More Comments