Ben Collins (racing driver)

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Ben Collins
Ben Collins.jpg
Signing autographs in 2009
Nationality British
Born (1975-02-13) 13 February 1975 (age 39)
Previous series
2010
2009
2006–07
2006, 2010
2005
2003
2001
2000
1999
1998
1997
1996–98, 2000–01
1995
BTCC (Single Race)
V8 Supercars
FIA GT3
Le Mans Series
British GT Championship
ASCAR
FIA Sportscars
French Formula Three
Indy Lights
Int'l Sports Racing
FIA GT Championship
British Formula Three
Formula Vauxhall Junior
Championship titles
2003 ASCAR
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Participating years 20012002, 2011
Teams Team Ascari, RML
Best finish 12
Class wins 0

Ben Collins (born 13 February 1975)[1] is a racing car driver from Bristol, England. He has competed in motor racing since 1994 in many categories, from Formula Three and Indy Lights to sportscars, GT racing and stock cars.[2][3][4]

Collins was placed second in the Marlboro Masters Formula 3 championship event in 2000. He set the pace at the 2001 Le Mans 24 hours race in his first season for approximately four hours during the rain at night. After winning the European Stock Car Championship in 2003 ASCAR stock car racing he was signed by PDM Racing to do selected rounds of the 2004 Indy Racing League, but the car never appeared. In 2005, he competed in the British GT Championship in a Porsche 996 GT3, winning races on the way before moving up to the FIA GT Series with Ascari where he led races and scored several pole positions.

In addition to racing, Collins' company Collins Autosport provides precision and stunt driving services, particularly for BBC Television, including Top Gear[2][5][6][7] and Top Gear Live, as well as for the film industry, such as driving James Bond's car in Quantum of Solace[2] and Casino Royale, and Eve Moneypenny's car in Skyfall.

In August 2010, several British national newspapers reported on an allegation made by The Sunday Times that Collins may be one of the identities of The Stig—an otherwise unidentified character on the Top Gear show—on the basis of financial filing made by the Collins Autosport company.[2][7] On 1 September 2010 the BBC was refused a court injunction preventing the revealing of The Stig's identity in Collins' autobiography, published by HarperCollins.[8] On 1 October 2010, it was announced that Collins would join Fifth Gear as a presenter.[9] In 2012 Collins joined as co-presenter Polish TVN's Automaniak.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Collins was born in Bristol, but spent the first ten years of his life in California in the USA, where his father worked for a distribution company. Collins was educated at Blundell's School and after studying law at the University of Exeter,[11] he spent around four years serving in the British Army, serving some of his time as a Special Forces driving instructor.[12][13] His racing career started in 1994.[12] He worked for Hornby as brand manager of the Scalextric model slot car division.[12][14] As of 2010 Collins continues to live in Bristol with his wife and 3 children.[3]

Racing[edit]

Ben Collins driving the No.84 car in the 2003 European SCSA championship

Collins has competed in motorsport since 1994.[15] In 1995 he competed in Formula Vauxhall Junior, finishing third overall with two wins and eight podiums. He also competed in the Formula Opel Winter Series, placing second overall driving for Sir Jackie Stewart who commented in Autosport Magazine, "When you see the likes of Ben Collins in Formula One, remember you saw them here first".[citation needed]

Collins moved onto the British Formula Three Championship in 1996. In 1997, he finished eighth in the standings driving for Fortec Motorsport, and also finished eighth in the Macau Grand Prix.[16] After another year in Formula Three in 1998, Collins raced in the American Indy Lights series in 1999, finishing thirteen in the standings.[16] For 2000, he returned to British F3 to drive for Carlin Motorsport, once again finishing eighth in the standings. He also finished second in the 2000 Masters of Formula 3 race at Zandvoort. Collins has been a test driver for racing manufacturer Ascari during Ascari A10 development,[17] and undertaken testing of Formula One cars.[4]

In 2001, Collins raced in the FIA Sportscar Championship for Team Ascari, with Werner Lupberger, the pair winning at Donington Park and finishing joint sixth in the standings. The team also raced at the 2001 24 Hours of Le Mans. Collins also finished sixth at the 2002 12 Hours of Sebring for Ascari.

In 2003, Collins raced in the ASCAR European Oval racing series with RML, winning six races on his way to being crowned champion. He continued racing in the series in 2004.

Collins returned to sportscars in 2005 to race in the British GT Championship and FIA GT Championship with Embassy Racing.

In 2006 he rejoined Ascari, racing in the FIA GT3 European Championship.

In 2007 Collins tested a NASCAR Nextel Cup car at Lakeland Speedway with the Red Bull Racing Team.

In 2009 Collins was named as an endurance driver for Australian V8 Supercars team, Kelly Racing/Jack Daniel's Racing, partnering with Nathan Pretty.[18]

In the 2010 Le Mans Series season, he was racing for RML AD Group. His first race for the team was the 2010 1000 km of Algarve, finishing fourth overall and winning the LMP2 class.[19] He remained with the team for the next round, the 2010 1000 km of Hungaroring, where they finished fourth in both class and overall.

Collins competed in the final meeting of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, driving a BMW for the Motorbase Performance team. He finished his first race in 14th and bettered that with a 12th in his second. However he retired in the third and he never returned the following season. He had been rumoured to be returning for the 2013 championship.[20]

Collins Autosport[edit]

Collins is a regular writer for Autosport Magazine testing the latest racing cars, has written for The Sunday Times, fronted Sky Sports' televised NASCAR coverage, along with appearances on the British car-focused television programmes Top Gear (BBC Two), Pulling Power (ITV1) and driven (Channel 4).[14]

He worked as a precision-driver in the film National Treasure: Book of Secrets where he doubled for the actor Nicolas Cage and drove in some of the high-speed sequences in London.[21][22] As a precision-driver in the 2008-film Quantum of Solace, Collins drove James Bond's Aston Martin DBS as a stunt double for Daniel Craig in the lead role.[2][4][5][12][14] He also holds a World Record for the maximum distance of driving a car on two wheels (a manoeuvre called "skiing").[14]

Collins presented television programme Xtreme Teen Drivers,[14] shown on BBC Three on 15 December 2007; as an advanced driving instructor within the programme, he was trying to teach a young boy racer to drive more safely.

Collins' company Ben Collins Auto-sport has provided its logistics and third-party liability insurance for prize-winner track day events promoted by Top Gear magazine.[23]

Top Gear[edit]

Collins has appeared on the popular BBC television programme Top Gear as himself,[24] with his company providing drivers[7] and driving services since December 2003.[4] In Series 2 Episode 10, In 2003 Collins appeared as one member of BBC Top Gear-team in the 24-hour Citroën 2CV racing event. The team finished thirteenth, out of thirty four cars, 24 laps behind the leaders, with Collins setting fastest lap.

In 2004, Collins made an appearance during the fourth season of Top Gear, alongside parachutist Tim Carter.[25] The stunt involved Carter and an aerial cameraman jumping out of a Cessna light aircraft then landing in the open-topped Mercedes car being driven at a speed by Collins.[26] The open-top car was introduced as belonging to Collins and had earlier been used—driven by The Stig—during a wig test in Series 3 Episode 5.

In 2005, the driver featured during series five, driving a Lancer Evo VII and then a Bowler Wildcat vehicle in a rally race against mountain boarding world champion Tom Kirkman.[7][26][27][28]

At the start of series six, Collins appeared with other British Touring Car Championship racing and stunt drivers for a Five-a-side football game using a fleet of Toyota Aygo cars.[26] Collins played in a team captained by Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond. The other drivers were Paul Swift, Tim Harvey and Tom Chilton (blue team); playing against James May, Russ Swift, Matt Neal, Dan Eaves and Rob Huff (red team).

Collins could be seen driving the Honda Civic Type-R against Jeremy Clarkson in Episode 6 of Season 10.[citation needed]

The sixth episode of series seventeen of Top Gear featured a team of amputee soldiers training driving a Bowler Wildcat and being trained by Collins to take part in the Dakar Rally.[29]

On a separate occasion, following an accident involving Richard Hammond in September 2006, the Health & Safety Executive report into the event recorded that Collins had "worked closely with Top Gear as a high performance driver and consultant" and had prepared a briefing for Richard Hammond preceding the event.[30]

The Stig[edit]

The Stig

On 19 January 2009, British newspaper The Daily Telegraph ran a story claiming that they had "outed" Collins as being one of the people behind the white-suited incarnation of The Stig, at the same time noting that "Collins, from Bristol, has always denied being the Stig".[5]

The Times, in a follow-up article, stated that the "identity of the white-suited Stig ... has been an open secret within the motoring world for some years, with newspapers refraining from publishing his name, to uphold the spirit of the programme" which concluded that "a newspaper broke with the convention to out Mr Collins, 33, after following up a story in a Bristol newspaper".[6] Similar allegations were repeated by The Sunday Times during August 2010.

Two Bristol-based local newspapers had published articles a week before The Times in January 2009, on the basis of information leaked from a local art gallery. Collins had previously commissioned a Clifton-based father and son business in September 2008, to produce a limited-edition run of 450 poster prints to be sold on at a price of £318 each.[31] Collins had initially portrayed himself as a BBC marketing executive[31] and only confirmed a more detailed connection to the Top Gear show after the signing of confidentiality agreements by the business owners.[31][32] The signed poster image showed a salt flat scene, with The Stig positioned standing on it.[26][32][33]

However, at the time Top Gear presenter James May claimed that the Stig's identity had not been outed and there has been speculation that there may be more than one person who plays the Stig.[34]

Autobiography publication[edit]

During August to September 2010 the BBC and HarperCollins started legal proceedings against each other, with the BBC attempting to obtain a High Court injunction to prevent the publishing of a book entitled The Man in The White Suit, apparently authored by Collins. The injunction was quashed by the High Court, allowing the possibility of the book being published on its intended release date of 16 September 2010 in the United Kingdom and 1 October 2010 in Australia.[35]

In an exclusive interview with WitneyTV recorded on 3 September 2010 and broadcast on 7 September 2010, Top Gear-presenter Jeremy Clarkson confirmed that Collins had worked as The Stig, and that Collins was "history as far as we're concerned, he's sacked".[36] On 7/8 September 2010, The Guardian, The Sun and other papers re-reported Clarkson's assertions in the interview that Collins had been fired from his role on the television show.[37][38] Collins stated that he had started writing an autobiography during Christmas 2009[39] as he feared that he might lose his contract on the show.[40] Collins stated that he had gone to great lengths in order to conceal his work on the television show, including parking in separate locations and wearing a balaclava while travelling to the filming sites.[41]

In the fifteenth series Christmas special, Top Gear presenters referred to the Stig as "The Splitter" and publicly ridiculed the Stig, using the picture of the Stig for drive-by shooting targets.

During Collins' appearance with the military amputees broadcast in July 2011, Collins was introduced and acknowledged by Top Gear-presenter Richard Hammond as "ex-Stig … Ben Collins".[29] Though Hammond still referred to Collins as a "romantic novelist", he said that "to be honest, [he was] quite glad to see 'the old Splitter' back, and [he does] know how much giving these guys a hand means to him. So this is all right."

Fifth Gear[edit]

Collins joined the presenting staff of Channel 5's Fifth Gear in Series 18, participating in racing challenges on several occasions. He did not return to the cast for Series 19. He is now a co-presenter in a Polish TV Series Automaniak.

Racing career[edit]

24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Class No Tyres Car Team Co-Drivers Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
2001 LMP900 20 G Ascari A410
Judd GV4 4.0L V10
United Kingdom Team Ascari South Africa Werner Lupberger
Finland Harri Toivonen
134 DNF DNF
2002 LMP1 21 D Ascari KZR-1
Judd GV4 4.0L V10
United Kingdom Team Ascari South Africa Werner Lupberger
United States Timothy J. Bell
17 DNF DNF
2011 LMP2 36 D HPD ARX-01d
HPD HR28TT 2.8 L Turbo V6
United Kingdom RML United Kingdom Mike Newton
Brazil Thomas Erdos
314 12th 4th

Complete V8 Supercar results[edit]

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Final Pos Points
2009 Kelly Racing ADE
R1

ADE
R2

HAM
R3

HAM
R4

WIN
R5

WIN
R6

SYM
R7

SYM
R8

HDV
R9

HDV
R10

TOW
R11

TOW
R12

SAN
R13

SAN
R14

QLD
R15

QLD
R16

PHI
Q

13
PHI
R17

18
BAT
R18

20
SUR
R19

SUR
R20

PHI
R21

PHI
R22

PTH
R23

PTH
R22

SYD
R23

SYD
R24

50th 180

Complete British Touring Car Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position – 1-point awarded in first race) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap – 1-point awarded all races) (* signifies that driver lead race for at least one lap – 1-point awarded all races)

Year Team Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 DC Pts
2010 Airwaves BMW BMW 320si THR
1

THR
2

THR
3

ROC
1

ROC
2

ROC
3

BRH
1

BRH
2

BRH
3

OUL
1

OUL
2

OUL
3

CRO
1

CRO
2

CRO
3

SNE
1

SNE
2

SNE
3

SIL
1

SIL
2

SIL
3

KNO
1

KNO
2

KNO
3

DON
1

DON
2

DON
3

BRH
1

14
BRH
2

12
BRH
3

Ret
26th 0

Complete FIA World Endurance Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Class Car Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Rank Points
2014 Ram Racing LMGTE Am Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 Ferrari 4.5 L V8 SIL
5
SPA
LMS
COA
FUJ
SHA
BHR
SÃO
5th* 10*

* Season in progress

References[edit]

  1. ^ Speedsport Magazine, Race Driver Database: Ben Collins. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e Syson, Neil (23 August 2010). "Ben's the Stig? That figures...". The Sun. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Bloxham, Andy (22 August 2010). "Stig mystery: financial documents suggest identity of Top Gear driver". Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 23 August 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d Siddique, Haroon (22 August 2010). "Top Gear driver unmasked as Sunday Times lifts helmet on Stig's identity". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 24 August 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2010. "In December 2003, .. based partly on "driving services provided for the BBC, mainly in the Top Gear programme"." 
  5. ^ a b c "Who is the Stig? The answer". The Daily Telegraph (UK). 19 January 2009. Archived from the original on 21 January 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2009. "Top Gear test driver the Stig has been unmasked as professional stuntman and Le Mans racer Ben Collins." 
  6. ^ a b Foster, Patrick (19 January 2009). "Identity of Top Gear's The Stig revealed as Ben Collins". The Times (UK). Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c d Kelly, Tom (23 August 2010). "The Stig unmasked... by his own company accounts". Daily Mail (London). Archived from the original on 23 August 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2010. "A BBC spokesman said: 'It's no surprise that Ben Collins's company accounts show that he was driving for Top Gear as he has appeared on the programme as himself, for exam-example [sic] in the Mitsubishi evo challenge." 
  8. ^ Hewage, Tim (1 September 2010). "Top Gear's The Stig Is Finally Unmasked". Sky News. Archived from the original on 4 September 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  9. ^ Sweney, Mark (10 January 2010). "'The Stig' joins Channel 5's Fifth Gear". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 October 2010. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  10. ^ http://www.tvn.pl/showbiz/nowy-sezon-automaniaka-z-legendarnym-benem-collinsem,38447,341,0,0.html
  11. ^ Jackson, Ben (11 September 2010). "Ben Collins: My life as The Stig". The Sun. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  12. ^ a b c d O'Grady, Sean (23 August 2010). "So he's really the Stig? Big deal". Independent (London). Archived from the original on 24 August 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  13. ^ Pfanner, Eric (12 September 2010). "BBC and News Corp. Sharpen Attacks in Top Gear Scuffle". New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c d e "Ben Collins – Motivational Speaker". City Speakers International. Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2009. "He will limber up for this year's racing season by doubling as James Bond..." 
  15. ^ "Collins Autosport: Racing History". collinsautosport.com. Collins Autosport. Archived from the original on 25 August 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010. [dead link]
  16. ^ a b "Ben Collins career statistics". driverdb.com. Driver Database. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  17. ^ Surface Transforms Plc, Case Study: Ascari A10. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
  18. ^ "Ben Collins Join Jack Daniel's Racing for V8 Enduros". Kelly Racing. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 27 July 2009. [dead link]
  19. ^ "Race Result – LMP2". Getting Better Every Time. RML Group/04_algarve2010_race.html. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  20. ^ Ben Collins BTCC return on the cards theseasiders
  21. ^ "Blockbuster Movie Uses the CG-Lock" (PDF). CG-Lock. 10 January 2007. 
  22. ^ ""National Treasure 2" AKA "National Treasure: Book Of Secrets"". Wild about Movies. Archived from the original on 2 June 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2009. "a contraption actually mounted on the roof of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class vehicle which allowed famed British driver Ben Collins the ability to do the actual driving, while Turteltaub and cinematographer John Schwartzman shot Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha inside of the vehicle" 
  23. ^ "Terms and Conditions". Nissan Motor GB Ltd and BBC Magazines Limited Joint Promotion. BBC Magazines Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 April 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010. "21. Ben Collins Auto-sport has third party and public liability insurance cover for all of its operation" 
  24. ^ "HarperCollins in Top Gear Stig legal wrangle". BBC News. 23 August 2010. Archived from the original on 23 August 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2010. "appeared numerous times on the programme and he often supplied other drivers for both the programme and Top Gear Live." 
  25. ^ Crash.net, Reigning champion stars on BBC Top Gear, 27 July 2004.
  26. ^ a b c d "Has The Stig been unmasked at last?". Evening Post (Bristol). 23 August 2010. Archived from the original on 26 August 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  27. ^ "Calstock's own World champion". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 26 January 2008. 
  28. ^ "Top Gear: Skater". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 7 May 2008. 
  29. ^ a b Hogan, Michael (31 July 2011). "Top Gear, episode 6, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  30. ^ Investigation into the accident of Richard Hammond on 20 September 2006 at Elvington airfield, nr. York, Information released: 22 June 2007, Health & Safety Executive
  31. ^ a b c "Top Gear's The Stig reveals identity to Bristol gallery owners". Western Daily Press. 6 January 2009. Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  32. ^ a b "Top Gear's The Stig revealed to Bristol firm". Bristol News. 6 January 2009. Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  33. ^ Lampert, Nicole (4 September 2010). "Losses of £1m, three children in three years and a lifetime of frustrated ambition... why The Stig REALLY unmasked himself". Daily Mail (London). Archived from the original on 6 September 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  34. ^ Allen, Nick (23 January 2009). "The Stig's true identity is still a mystery, claims Top Gear's James May". Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2009. 
  35. ^ "Top Gear creator's original Stig living in Sydney". The Australian. 13 September 2010. Archived from the original on 14 September 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  36. ^ "Jeremy Clarkson interview" (Video interview, offset 26:56). Series 01. Episode 17. 2010-09-07. 26:56–29:10 minutes in. WitneyTV. Archived from the original on 7 September 2010. http://blip.tv/file/4089415. "he's history as far as we're concerned, he's sacked"
  37. ^ Conlan, Tara (7 September 2010). "Jeremy Clarkson: the Stig is 'sacked'". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 10 September 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  38. ^ "Clarkson: Stig sneak is sacked". The Sun. 8 September 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2010. "He's history as far as we are concerned. He's sacked." 
  39. ^ Jackson, Ben (10 September 2010). "The Beeb branded me a dalek and bullied me out of the Stig job". The Sun. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  40. ^ "Stig Ben Collins: Jeremy Clarkson told me I drive like a homosexual... but he wouldn't last 60 seconds in my job". Daily Mail. 11 September 2010. Archived from the original on 12 September 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  41. ^ "The book the BBC tried to ban: Ben Collins on the day Top Gear's Stig met Jordan". Daily Mail (London). 13 September 2010. Archived from the original on 15 September 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 

External links[edit]