Last night, former Top Gear Stig Ben Collins took to Reddit to answer any questions that we, the public, wanted to throw at him. Questions ranged from the serious to the absurd and everything in between. Below, are 30 of the best questions and answers with the man we used to know only as Stig.
1. What sort of measures did you have to take to guard your identity for so many years? P.S. Big fan. (liesliesfromtinyeyes)
I got myself a BBC ID card with a fake name "Richard Jameson" cleverly made of the 3 presenters names - so that i could book hotels and get up to mischief without getting caught. Used to wear a balaclava everywhere to hide my face anywhere near a Top Gear shoot and generally be as sneaky as possible.
2. At first when you came out as 'The Stig' there seemed to be a feud between you and Top Gear but you've been on the show since. How's your relationship with Top Gear now? (fakenoveltyaccount)
Frosty but warm - but not boiling, more luke with a slice of lime and hint of mint.
3. Why aren't you stig anymore? (MrStarkiller1233)
Great job but i decided to leave because after 8 years the game was up in terms of keeping it secret. The BBC had leaked my name to the Radio Times and the tabloids ran varous stories, so i handed in my notice. I wanted to go full time racing again anyway so it was a new lease of life, but it didn't work out well for the cardboard cut-outs of STIG..!
4. Were you always the Stig? Or were there stand-in Stigs? Did the presenters always know that you were the Stig? (poppynor)
I couldn't make a photo shoot once because I was filming for Top Gear elsewhere and they booked a stand in - apparently Jeremy said "get rid of it" and refused to have his photo taken with him, which made me laugh. With some very rare exceptions, i did all of my stuff from walking through London to all the testing off camera and all the studio work.
The presenters didn't know for a while at first then yes, they knew, but Jeremy often used to open the visor just to double check.
5. If you could come up with your own “some say” intro for The Stig, what would it be? (courtachino)
Some say they should just give me the keys and let me drive without the damn intro!
6. Do you know who the current Stig is? (georgetheguinea)
There's several bless them - it was like the night when they fed Gizmo's brothers after midnight and Stigs started popping out everywhere.
7. How much of the time Stig was on camera did you actually spend in the suit? Was it you walking around London, appearing in studio... etc. (foscarench)
I was entirely method. I slept in that suit. I spent family christmases never revealing my identity. To anyone. Not even myself.
8. How did you get the job? What kind of training did you go through to become such a badass driver? (Scooby303)
Still learning - I had the best teachers which is to say i've raced some big talents and you have to learn quickly or finish 2nd all the time. I got the job by writing to the boss, meeting him and then driving a car - quickly. Quite traditional. I beat the Old Stig's lap times and got hired - SWEET!
9. Has being a former Stig gotten you out of paying for tickets or vice versa? (Daniiiiii)
The Police are pretty cool in my experience but i've only ever pulled The Stig card when i was wearing The Suit - otherwise it would have been a double whammy - jail and get fired. When a cop asked my name (as he detained me on the M1 in a caterham) i shouted slowly "T H E S T I G" and he laughed and walked off.
10. Do you really have 600 testicles? (LTLARRY1)
Yes - i carry them like scalps in my leather satchel from every driver that ever hogged the middle lane on the M4.
11. What was your initial thoughts on the reaction to the reveal that you are the Stig? (Ikrabbid89)
It felt like falling down an elevator shaft. 8 years of one mindset is hard to break and it felt really uncomfortable people suddenly knowing who i was - but it was absolutely fantastic at the same time because so many people had such a positive affinity with the character.
12. Why did you have to ruin the mystery ? (BradMaddox)
I did my best for 8 years - which was 7 years longer than the first Stig, so not too bad, but I'm sorry if I ruined christmas.
1. What was your least favorite car to drive? Who was your favorite star in a reasonably priced car? Who was your least favorite star in a reasonably priced car? (cyclic_rival)
1) Any kind of TVR; 2) Tom Cruise was amazing, he pushed himself to get a fast time and he was incredibly down to earth; 3) No one really. There was never a dull day in the office, but I did think I was going to get fired when I scared the shit out of Jack Dee. He tried to get out of a moving car.
2. What was your the best experience/story you've experienced in Top Gear? (jacuaw)
The best thing i did was coach Billy Baxter - the blind driver - he managed to beat 5 sighted drivers and drive the lap100% himself with me shouting expletives and directions as fast as i could. I could have kissed him, had he not been sweating quite as much from the effort. Billy was epic.
3. Of the three presenters; May, Hammond or Clarkson, whom did you like best? And why? Where you there when Hammond was injured in the rocket car? How awful was that? (Gruns)
I really liked working with all three of them! Jeremy can be a pain in @ss but hilarious in the same second, Hammond loves a fight and that's endearing and James is mad, i used to spend hours watching his eyes spinning around like a loon.
I was meant to be there the day Hammond was hurt but was called away to work with Jeremy - it was horrible when it happened and thankfully he pulled through. Like i say he's a fighter.
4. Top Gear or Fifth Gear? (autoalex)
Top Gear. You can't beat a big fat hairy budget.
5. What does Jeremy's hair feel like? (kaptainface)
If you've ever had a scratch in the morning 'down there' then you'll know. Kind of pubey but longer...
6 How often TopGear stuff had some troubles with police? Did police close roads for filming? (FirstMurphysLaw)
The Police were always really helpful. We filmed the Bugatti in East London and just when I thought we were about to be arrested the word came through from the cop who had said "make sure he gives it some". They helped us contain the area so it was safe etc.
1. What was your biggest "oh sh*t" moment? (buckteef)
I hit a kerb in a Formula 3 car at Rockingham at 135 mph and my point of view was towards a fluffy cloud which i thought might become my final destination. When the car finally landed i had a nice concussion but I managed to win the top wheelie award in Max Power so it ended well.
2. What would be your favourite car you have driven on Top Gear? (outtokill7)
3. What was going through your head when you went off in the Koenigsegg and ate the tire wall? (zerocool1990)
I hope I'm not paying for this.
3. For how long had you had access for each supercar? Was it only one or two fast laps or whole day? (FirstMurphysLaw)
The tyres can't take more than 5/6 laps on the supercars and we rarely had spares so it was a 25 minute blind date.
4. Stiggy! Do you enjoy classic American muscle (I drive a '68 Firebird 400)? If so, do you have a favorite? Cheers! (ProfessorFartdust)
I love the old Challenger, purely because of "Vanishing Point" - driving them is something else. When you press the pedals it's like writing a letter and asking politely if the car might respond sometime in the future.
5. Have you ever helped in designing some cars? If yes, what did you do for them? Something more than driving on track? (FirstMurphysLaw)
I helped design the Ascari - that's a bit strong really. I drove it and worked with the clever designers so they could chip away at the marble and produce the KZ1.
It became a kick-ass racecar and we had a lot of success in FIA GT racing with it, and the GT2 edition was incredible. Had it not been wet on the day we took it to Top Gear it could well have posted the fastest time, still today.
6. What cars do you own? (JustAnotherLondoner)
I've got a van! VW Transporter - yes - I live life on the EDGE!
2. Can you give us two facts about ducks? (Euchre)
1) Most male ducks are silent and very few ducks actually "quack." Instead, their calls may include squeaks, grunts, groans, chirps, whistles, brays and growls.
2) There are more than 40 breeds of domestic duck. The white Pekin duck (also called the Long Island duck) is the most common variety raised for eggs and meat.
3. Do you like roller coasters? What is the best one? (radio_dead)
Nah, too slow.
Hi Ben. How much of your racing ability is concentration? Do you feel that your body knows what to do and almost like you're being driven around by yourself? Basically does raw talent carry you or is it just ball achingly painful to be as good as you on track? (stevenjweir)
It's 100% concentration, so long as your body is fit enough to cope with the G force and the physical abuse of wrangling the controls. That's the part i love most, you lose track of your body completely - it's like breathing - and the whole world is reduced to a flight path and a gut feel. It's never boring! Ok it was once - i did a 24 hour race in a 2CV and you spent 100% of the lap on full throttle. I thought my luck was in when the car got smashed up but they just bent it straight and sent me out again ;)
3. Any plans on running Le Mans this year? (hiking_fool)
Absolutely - nothing sorted yet but working with a couple of teams to get into something fast - hope to see you there!
Our thanks go out to Ben for taking the time to answer all our great questions! And on that bombshell...
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