Read The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, the Fast Lane and Me Online

Authors: Ben Collins

Tags: #Performing Arts, #General, #Biography & Autobiography, #Transportation, #Automotive, #Television, #Entertainment & Performing Arts, #Personal Memoirs, #Sports & Recreation, #Sports, #Motor Sports

The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, the Fast Lane and Me

BOOK: The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, the Fast Lane and Me
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The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, the Fast Lane and Me
Ben Collins
HarperCollins UK (2010)
Rating:
★★★☆☆
Tags:
Performing Arts, Transportation, Automotive, Television, Entertainment Performing Arts, General, Personal Memoirs, Sports Recreation, Biography Autobiography, Sports, Motor Sports
Performing Artsttt Transportationttt Automotivettt Televisionttt Entertainment Performing Artsttt Generalttt Personal Memoirsttt Sports Recreationttt Biography Autobiographyttt Sportsttt Motor Sportsttt
Product Description

Top Gear's
iconic driver The Stig is finally revealed!

Ben Collins divulges how he came to be
Top Gear's
iconic driver, as well as what it's like to thrash an Aston Martin DBS, train for the Army, face the terror of Jeremy Clarkson's underwear, and much more. When The Black Stig disappeared off the end of an aircraft carrier in 2003, audiences were introduced to The White Stig—faster, stranger, and harder to keep clean. Ever since, millions have wondered—who is The Man in the White Suit? They're about to find out. Ben Collins caught the car the bug young, kicking his dad's boss in the balls for not giving him a company Jag, and this was the attitude that eventually led him to spend seven years sharing a cabin with Jeremy Clarkson's underwear, James May's PhD thesis, and Richard Hammond's hairspray. Now he tells all about life inside the iconic white helmet: what it's like to guide a blind ex-RAF officer around the_ Top Gear_ track, pit a drug dealer's Mitsubishi Evo against a Trojan tank, set a Vauxhall Monaro against Chloe the dancing Ninja, and race double-decker Routemasters against bendy buses—not to mention all the inside stuff on how the show's amazing driving sequences are made. He also reveals how he got to be there—setting a Dunsfold lap time faster than Michael Schumacher's. It's an awesome story, told by an amazing man.

About the Author

Ben Collins
won races in every category from Formula Three to Le Mans Sportscars and GT, and captured the European NASCAR title. He also worked as a Hollywood stuntman. In 2003 he became the anonymous fourth presenter, known as The Stig, of
Top Gear
, coaching celebrities, organizing car chases, and testing hundreds of priceless cars. Eight years later, his alter ego is recognized by millions around the world.

The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, the Fast Lane and Me
Ben Collins
HarperCollins UK (2010)
Rating:
★★★☆☆
Tags:
Performing Arts, Transportation, Automotive, Television, Entertainment Performing Arts, General, Personal Memoirs, Sports Recreation, Biography Autobiography, Sports, Motor Sports
Performing Artsttt Transportationttt Automotivettt Televisionttt Entertainment Performing Artsttt Generalttt Personal Memoirsttt Sports Recreationttt Biography Autobiographyttt Sportsttt Motor Sportsttt

Product Description

Top Gear's
iconic driver The Stig is finally revealed!

Ben Collins divulges how he came to be
Top Gear's
iconic driver, as well as what it's like to thrash an Aston Martin DBS, train for the Army, face the terror of Jeremy Clarkson's underwear, and much more. When The Black Stig disappeared off the end of an aircraft carrier in 2003, audiences were introduced to The White Stig—faster, stranger, and harder to keep clean. Ever since, millions have wondered—who is The Man in the White Suit? They're about to find out. Ben Collins caught the car the bug young, kicking his dad's boss in the balls for not giving him a company Jag, and this was the attitude that eventually led him to spend seven years sharing a cabin with Jeremy Clarkson's underwear, James May's PhD thesis, and Richard Hammond's hairspray. Now he tells all about life inside the iconic white helmet: what it's like to guide a blind ex-RAF officer around the_ Top Gear_ track, pit a drug dealer's Mitsubishi Evo against a Trojan tank, set a Vauxhall Monaro against Chloe the dancing Ninja, and race double-decker Routemasters against bendy buses—not to mention all the inside stuff on how the show's amazing driving sequences are made. He also reveals how he got to be there—setting a Dunsfold lap time faster than Michael Schumacher's. It's an awesome story, told by an amazing man.

About the Author

Ben Collins
won races in every category from Formula Three to Le Mans Sportscars and GT, and captured the European NASCAR title. He also worked as a Hollywood stuntman. In 2003 he became the anonymous fourth presenter, known as The Stig, of
Top Gear
, coaching celebrities, organizing car chases, and testing hundreds of priceless cars. Eight years later, his alter ego is recognized by millions around the world.

THE MAN

IN THE WHITE SUIT

THE STIG, LE MANS, THE FAST LANE AND ME

BEN COLLINS

Dad, thank you for every opportunity that life brought through your guidance. Mum, your moral compass is a shining light; thank you for putting up with me.

A
l men dream, but not equal y. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.T. E. LAWRENCE

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Epigraph

Chapter 1 - Audition

Chapter 2 - Need for Speed

Chapter 3 - Winning

Chapter 4 - Snakes & Ladders

Chapter 5 - Le Mans 24

Chapter 6 - Daytona Endurance

Chapter 7 - The New Stig

Chapter 8 - Green Fatigue

Chapter 9 - Live at Earl’s Court

Chapter 10 - Rockingham

Chapter 11 - Hard Routine

Chapter 12 - Tortoise or the Hare

Chapter 13 - Chin Strap

Chapter 14 - Cowel ’s got Talent

Chapter 15 - A Walk in the Park

Photographic Insert

Chapter 16 - Pass or Fail

Chapter 17 - Happy Landings

Chapter 18 - Stars in Reasonably Priced Cars

Chapter 19 - Driving Blind

Chapter 20 - Taking the Rough with the Smooth

Chapter 21 - If It’s Got Wheels

Chapter 22 - Bitten by the Bug

Chapter 23 - Track Record
Photographic Insert

Chapter 24 - Match of the Day

Chapter 25 - Smoke and Mirrors

Chapter 26 - Jet Man

Chapter 27 - Street Fighting

Chapter 28 - London Cal ing

Chapter 29 - Pedal on the Right

Chapter 30 - The Scud

Chapter 31 - Untamed: Hampshire Heist

Chapter 32 - Bus Racing

Chapter 33 - Loose Cannon

Chapter 34 - The White Bubble

Chapter 35 - Who is the Stig?

Chapter 36 - Give My Regards to Dunsfold

Epilogue

Acknowledgements
Index

Copyright

About the Publisher

Chapter 1
Audition

I
ntermittent shafts of sunlight sliced across the damp carriageway through the canopy of trees.

Leaves spattered away from the spinning wheels. I stil had plenty of time, but this journey was worth enjoying, so I kept pul ing gears and cranked the stereo.

The suspension shuddered as I braked hard on the worn tarmac and rounded a long hairpin. The car was busy but my mind, as usual, was elsewhere. Was this a good idea? Who was this guy I was meeting?

Where the hel was this place?

I glanced down at my complex route directions, then realised my turning was about to appear on a blind bend. I slowed to check for oncoming traffic before veering off down a track with no discernible markings.

My left thumb clicked at the handbrake button as I toyed with the idea of a sharp about-face. I topped a gentle crest and the view widened. Just past a field of grazing sheep lay a security entrance. Three feet and two inches to the right of the middle of nowhere.

The security guard spilt his tea and leapt to his feet as I pul ed up at the gate. He emerged from his cabin and approached my window. ‘Do you know where you’re going?’

‘Yes,’ I lied.

‘Who are you here with?’

That was a trickier one, but I dealt with it.

‘ Oh, OK, just fol ow the one-way system around.’

I drove into a vast expanse of clear skies, grass, concrete and airfield. The path ahead led to an old DC3 passenger plane. I fol owed the broken concrete track to the right. An office building stood amongst a haphazard col ection of large green metal warehouses. I dropped down a ramp into a staging area in front of a much larger hangar. At the far end of it, on the edge of the airfield, lay a very dilapidated cabin with

‘Production’ daubed on its side. A Harrier Jump Jet was parked in the middle distance.

It seemed I’d arrived at the ‘Studio’. With a little time in hand, I walked the site.

The airfield was as flat as a bil iard table, with neat green fields surrounding the tarmac landing strips. I couldn’t make out any kind of circuit in the sea of grey mist. A tired silver treeline separated the earth from the clear blue sky.

The place must have had a real buzz in its glory days, first during the Second World War and then as a Harrier proving ground. On this stil morning I could almost hear the banter of aircrew scrambling to their aircraft.

Now it felt like the Land that Time Forgot. Rusted control panels littered the area. Cracked concrete bil ets jostled with disused hangars and pebble-dashed Seventies monstrosities.

I paid an obligatory pre-match visit to the nearby loos. Two fresh pieces of graffiti read: ‘Fuck Jeremy Clarkson’ and ‘Richard Hammond is a’. Sadly, Hammond’s eulogy had never been completed. My laughter echoed down the deserted corridor. I felt like a madman.

I returned to the production hut and gave it the once over. A cardboard cut-out of a policeman stood guard at the window beside a larger cut-out stil of John Prescott, an ironing board, a moth-eaten mini-sofa and a cluster of toxic coffee cups and Bic biros.

What the hel did they do here?

A worn chair overlooked a grubby telephone which sat, inert, on a filthy wood veneer table. A printed list of ‘key contacts’ was pinned to the wal , belying the cabin’s absence of discernible function.

Room 2 was marginal y better appointed, with a smal TV set surrounded by VHS tapes but no player. A few photos of random celebrities decorated the flimsy, cobwebbed wal s.

Room 3 contained a large hanging rail from which hung a gold sequin jacket, a flower power shirt and an enormous pair of jeans. A crate of Red Bul lurked in the corner. The place stank of fags, mildew and
Eau de Man
.

With an uncertain recol ection of my last tetanus jab, I opted to wait inside my car and nod off to some filthy hard house tunes.

I woke to the sound of rushing gravel as a smal hatchback pul ed up in front of me. I guessed this was my man by his silver hair and media issue denim jacket. I climbed out to greet him.

He hitched up his trousers and shuffled towards me like a glum but familiar uncle on a rare visit home. It was only 9.30, but his five o’clock shadow suggested he had already had a long day. He clasped a bursting folder of papers under one arm.

He looked in every direction but mine. I moved to shake his hand. With some reluctance he eventual y reciprocated.

‘Right …’

‘Great to meet you, Andy.’

‘Did you tel anyone you were coming?’ he asked.

‘No,’ I said.

‘OK, good.’

Andy explained that the track would open up for some fast laps at ten. I had no idea of what the track even looked like, what car I would be driving or what test lay ahead, so it wasn’t easy to prepare for what came next.

Andy unlocked a blue Ford Focus in the car park and it dawned on me that this underpowered front-wheel-drive affair would be his measuring stick of my performance. Years of racing experience in Formula 1

style machines went out the window; it was time to rely on a few bad habits.

Andy hunched over the wheel and drove us serenely around the track. But for the occasional steely-eyed glare at a corner, his eyes sparkled as if he was enjoying some private joke.

The silver fox indicated the areas I was ‘not al owed to drive across’, such as the white lines on the exit of the first corner, coming out of the second corner, and especial y those marking the ‘Hammerhead’

chicane. I nodded respectful y, as you do on the headmaster’s tour of the school grounds.

The track looked straightforward enough, and there were some bal sy fast corners in the middle that could be hairy in a proper car.

‘This one sorts the men out from the boys,’ Andy said with something approaching relish.

BOOK: The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, the Fast Lane and Me
3.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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