The identity of Top Gear’s “tame racing driver” – otherwise known as the Stig – has been the subject of incredible speculation over the last six years, but it now seems that his identity has finally been revealed. Indeed, the mystery surrounding his identity may be further shattered by apparent plan he has to publish a tell-all autobiography.
The identity of the man in the white racing suit has been revealed by The Sunday Times as Ben Collins, a 35-year-old former Formula 3 driver, who is described on his own website as having “a reputation for being fast and aggressive”.
Collins also has experience racing in NASCAR, Le Mans and the V8 Supercars championship, in addition to testing Formula 1 cars.
The BBC confirmed last week that it was trying to block the Stig’s planned autobiography, claiming it breached “agreed contractual and confidentiality obligations” relating to his role.
It is believed that Collins is apparently unhappy with his relative lack of earning power in his role as the Stig, relative to the hefty salaries commanded by the show’s three main hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.
There has also been a general understanding within the British media not to reveal his identity in the wake of Perry McCarthy’s identity as the ‘Black Stig’ (the show’s first Stig) being unveiled following his departure from the show.
But with Collins’ alleged dissatisfaction, the British tabloids have decided to throw their sense of fair play out of the window, prompting the Times to name Collins as this man of mystery. The paper cites financial reports from Collins’ company, Collin Autosport, which in December 2003 (a month following the current Stig’s maiden appearance on the show) noted the company had reported a “cornerstone year” after securing “driving services provided for the BBC, mainly in the Top Gear programme”. The document also noted that it offered “good long-term prospected for continuing income”.
The identity of The Stig has remained a closely-guarded secret for years, with just a handful of the show’s executives and the show’s three presenters being privy to this.
Several former F1 drivers have been linked with the current Stig’s identity, including the likes of Damon Hill and Julian Bailey. In June last year, Top Gear ‘revealed’ the identity of the Stig to be seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, although it was widely believed to be a publicity stunt.
Collins’ name has also been put forth as a potential candidate in the past, and there has also been the suggestion that several drivers may share the one role.
Collins has not yet offered any comment.