Some say he is a Tibetan monk, captured in the wild and trained to race cars. Some say he was grown in a tube that was housed in an SR-71 Blackbird that continually travelled above the speed of sound. Turns out he is just a guy named Ben Collins.
The long kept secret identity of The Stig (the mysterious race car driver on the BBC hit-show Top Gear) has been revealed following the discovery that Collins would be publishing an autobiography which chronicled his time as the mysterious racer. The BBC took the book’s publisher, HarperCollins, to court to block the publication of the book, but a judge has since refused the BBC’s request.
Collins is known in the English racing circuit primarily as a Formula Three driver, and has been an active racer since 1994. He also owns the company, Collins Autosports, which provides stunt and precision driving to TV and movies. Collins himself was behind the wheel as James Bond in Quantum of Solace, as well as a double for Nicholas Cage in National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which shot several scenes in England. In 2009, his company listed Top Gear as an employer, which began speculation that he was the man behind the iconic white race suit and helmet.
“The Top Gear audience has always made it clear they enjoyed the mystery around the identity of The Stig. The BBC felt it important to protect that anonymity,” A BBC spokesperson said following the judge’s ruling to allow the autobiography’s publication.
“Today’s judgment does not prevent the BBC from pursuing this matter to trial and it will not be deterred from protecting such information from attack no matter when or by whom it should arise.”
Collins is not the first person to play The Stig. In fact, he is not even the first person to play The Stig and then reveal his identity in an autobiography. That honor goes to English racer Perry McCarthy, who first appeared as the “Black Stig” in 2002. McCarthy was replaced by Collins as the “White Stig” in 2003 once his identity became known. There has been no word whether or not Collins will be replaced on the next season of Top Gear, which just finished airing its 15th season on BBC in August.
Top Gear is viewed in over 100 countries, and it is the BBC’s most successful international program. A U.S. version of the show is currently being developed for the History Channel, and is expected to debut in the fall.