Over the white line: Ben Collins is still The Stig…
By LJ Hutchins
Friday, January 23rd, 2009
Puzzlement this week at Brits on Pole’s global HQ after a breathless story on the BBC’s Newsbeat website revealed… wait for it… that the identity of Top Gear’s The Stig is single-seater and sports car driver Ben Collins.
What we’re wondering is, why is this still news? Even to The Beeb, which is presumably invested in keeping the gag going and the T-shirts selling? (Yes, alright, we bought one…)
Collins has been squarely in the frame for ownership of the cleanest overalls in racing ever since Richard Hammond lost control of his rocket ship back in 2006 and Collins was named in the ensuing Health and Safety Executive report as “a high-performance driver and consultant” who “worked closely with Top Gear.”
If there is a single Stig, it is almost certainly Collins, and if there is more than one then he very likely is a member of Team Stig. End of story.
It’s been a fun gag – but don’t wear the joke out by continuing to pretend there’s any big mystery on the subject. Least of all involving the faked death of Graham Hill. (Though the lengths they will go to in the hunt for Real Racing Drivers may well be this extreme.)
It looks like they know they can’t keep it up much longer.
What we’d really like to know is, if Ben Collins (aka The Stig) was a stunt driver on recent Bond film A Quantum of Solace, how many Aston Martins does he have on his conscience?
Here are a few more things that caught our eye in the racing world this week:
- One car manufacturer that never seems to be seriously discussed as a possible entrant to Formula One is Porsche. Forget Honda versus Toyota and BMW versus Mercedes. Forget the fact that the company in its various incarnations has a strong presence in sports car racing. The German super-marque seems well able to resist the temptation despite trying to sell its products to generally the same people as Ferrari does. Its motivation may well be that it prefers making money over losing it if a rather interesting article from BBC News this week is anything to go by. “Industry insiders,” it says, “are only half-joking when they call it a hedge fund with a car maker attached.” It explains how, in the course of a year, the company managed to make six times as much on the stock market as it did producing cars. And not everybody thinks its behavior was necessarily defensible. Recommended reading.
- It’s become clear for some time that, while circuits squabble over events and accusations of management wrongheadedness and unfair dealings are made left right and centre, that the real man to watch in British motorsport is Jonathan Palmer. While keeping entirely clear of all the trouble at t’mill, his company MotorSportVision has been quietly getting on with making plans for circuit development at Snetterton and collaborating with Williams F1 on the new Formula 2 series, currently slated to feature Martin Brundle’s son Alex. So it was interesting to see that James Allen, writing in his blog, rates the future of this event: “Can you be absolutely sure that the best driver won, or was he just driving the best car? This is how it is in F1, because the teams have to build their own car and some do it better than others, but why does it have to be that way in the feeder series? Why waste all that money on car development when what you really want to know is, who’s the best driver? It is a model that other series have used before, but it’s very interesting that it’s now being used at this level.” Thought-provoking stuff – here’s the rest.
- A brew made from some very sour grapes found its way to The Independent’s newsdesk (and just about everywhere else) this week after the Campaign for the Built Environment (CABE) said the Donington Park revamp plans were weak and demonstrated “a poor understanding of the site and the opportunities it offers.” The quango, which advises the government on architecture, was taking aim after the development was granted conditional planning permission earlier this month. Its recommendations formed part of the report considered by councillors when they decided whether or not to let development go ahead, so presumably they were aware of these concerns at the time and came to their view accordingly. Personally, what we take away from this is amusement that the planning experts have as little faith in Hermann Tilke as many F1 fans do…
- During the week, Keith Collantine over at F1 Fanatic ran an agency piece entitled Piquet expects equality with Alonso. There’s nothing we can possibly come up with that’s wittier than that bare headline, is there? When you’ve finished rolling about on the floor with laughter, the quotes from Alonso himself nail it: “The team asked which days I wanted to drive and I said day three and four because normally the first two days the car has a lot of problems. I’m happy because Wednesday should be dry.” So obviously young Nelsinho’s quest to be taken seriously and achieve parity has got off to a jolly good start…
- And finally… Brits on Pole’s readers possibly do not patronise the blog of Chris Charles at the BBC due to the fact that it’s mainly concerned with football. But we like a bit of a kickabout and find it usually brings a smile to our faces. Chris, like most other people, is having trouble stopping laughing at Ronaldo following the Man U winger’s rather unfortunate treatment of his new Ferrari. Here’s his latest offering: “The Manchester United star had another bit of car trouble when he received a parking ticket after deciding to leave his Bentley parked at a bus stop when he went for a spot of lunch with his family. The traffic warden refused to confirm there was a sticker in the back window bearing the slogan ‘My other car was a Ferarri’.” Never rains but it pours for some folk…