In a recent interview on the Road To Success podcast, Ben Collins, the former enigmatic Stig from Top Gear, shared captivating details about his time on the show and the extraordinary measures he took to protect his identity as the iconic tame racing driver.
- Ben Collins began his racing career at the age of 18 and eventually made it to the premier class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Team Ascari before joining Top Gear.
- Initially unimpressed by his driving skills, Top Gear producer Andy Wilman eventually offered Collins the role of The Stig.
- Collins went to great lengths to maintain the secrecy of his identity, donning a white racing suit, balaclava, and helmet on set, and even using a fake name, Richard Jameson, for hotel check-ins.
- Despite a promising idea for a 24 Hours of Le Mans race segment, it never materialized on the show.
- Collins eventually parted ways with Top Gear after his identity was revealed by the BBC Radio Times, and he later faced a legal dispute over the release of his book.
- Today, Collins runs a successful YouTube channel, “Ben Collins Drives,” and continues his association with the old Top Gear crew.
Collins’ journey into the world of Top Gear began after years of honing his racing skills. His racing career took off at the age of 18, and he gradually climbed the ranks until he found himself competing at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans with Team Ascari. It was during this time that the opportunity to join Top Gear presented itself.
After initially failing to impress Top Gear producer Andy Wilman during a trial run in a Ford Focus at Dunsfold Aerodrome, Collins received a surprising call a month later. This time, a white racing suit awaited him, marking the beginning of his transformation into the enigmatic Stig.
Collins took his role seriously and went to great lengths to conceal his identity. On set, he wore a balaclava and never removed his helmet. Even during shoots in locations like London, he would change clothes in a van to avoid any accidental reveals.
To further protect his secret, Collins adopted the pseudonym “Richard Jameson” when checking into hotels with the crew. This cleverly crafted name was a combination of the show’s hosts, Richard Hammond, James May, and Jeremy Clarkson.
Collins also shared his disappointment about a Top Gear segment that never came to fruition—a 24 Hours of Le Mans race involving the hosts. He believed it would have been a perfect fit for the Stig character but sadly, the idea remained unrealized.
Ultimately, the BBC Radio Times revealed Collins’ identity as the Stig, leading to the unraveling of the situation. Feeling sidelined by the show, Collins made the difficult decision to depart on his own terms, with his farewell episode featuring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” segment.
Nonetheless, he was exhilarated to be a part of the world’s premier motoring show. He conveyed his excitement, stating:
“I loved every day I did there.”
However, post-Top Gear life was not without challenges for Collins, as he found himself in a legal dispute with the BBC regarding the release of his book, “The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, The Fast Lane and Me,” a period he described as the most stressful in his life.
Today, Ben Collins has successfully transitioned to digital media, running his YouTube channel, “Ben Collins Drives,” known for its thrilling automotive content and his engaging narration. He also continues to maintain his association with the old Top Gear crew, occasionally featuring on DriveTribe.
In summary, Ben Collins’ journey from an aspiring racer to the iconic Stig on Top Gear is a tale of dedication and secrecy. His efforts to protect his identity while delivering thrilling performance as the Stig have left a lasting legacy in the world of automotive entertainment.
Summary: Ben Collins, the former Stig from Top Gear, shares insights into his Top Gear experience and the measures he took to protect his identity in an engaging interview on the Road To Success podcast.