I purely read this book because I wanted to know more about The Stig and Top Gear. I didn’t really know anything about Ben Collins prior to this.
This book reads more like an autobiography of Ben Collins up to his departure from Top Gear (although it is VERY sketchy on the details and reasons why this happened). We learn about his childhood (interesting), younger days riding karts and various cars (interesting), army days (quite boring) and then we hit Top Gear days. This was by far and away the best part of the book for me. It was interesting to learn that Collins was actually being the Stig on the tube (public transport vs car vs bike vs boat), I would have thought someone else would do that. Riding with Tom Cruise, teaching a blind man to drive the Top Gear track and Richard Hammond’s crash (covered by the man himself in On the Edge), it’s all there. Ben Collins can cover how to drive very fast really, really well. The stories about Top
Gear were very entertaining and witty. But towards the end of the book, we suddenly hear about how he is tired about the extreme secrecy he must maintain in his role as The Stig, how he’s getting a bit tired of the whole thing and then…it’s over. Given that the BBC tried to put an injunction on the publication of this book, there must be more! Why does Jeremy Clarkson react so negatively when questioned about Collins as The Stig? Why does Collins himself seem so jealous when a decoy in the form of Michael Schumacher appears on the show? The ending, the leaving is tied up so quickly and perfectly in a big red bow you just know that it’s hiding a dirty big coffee stain underneath.
An interesting and light read, this would appeal to Top Gear fans (obviously) and boys interested in cars and racing. I’d also be interested in hearing about what Collins is doing now (surely being on Fifth Gear is incorrect?) but not enough to read another book.
Read it if: You love Top Gear or you like wearing a white suit and helmet – 24/7.
6.5 out of 10.