Ever since the Black Stig disappeared off the front end of HMS Invincible in 2003, one question has captivated many of the 350 million viewers of Top Gear around the world: Who is the man in the white suit?
He shared a portacabin for seven years with Jeremy Clarkson’s underwear, James May’s PhD thesis and Richard Hammond’s hairspray. His image is splashed across millions of items of cutting-edge merchandise, from books and alarm clocks, to bottles of bubble bath and some rather strange looking Easter eggs.
He’s lapped Dunsfold faster than Nigel Mansell, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. He’s guided hundreds of celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Sienna Miller and a blind ex-Artillery solder around the now legendary Top Gear track.
He’s raced wheel to wheel with the best of the best at Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans and Bathurst. He’s pitted a drug dealer’s Mitsubishi Evo against a Trojan tank and a Jackal High Mobility Weapons Platform, and a Vauxhall Monaro against Chloe the Dancing Ninja.
He’s raced double-decker Routemasters against bendy buses at Lydden Hill. He’s hurtled an Aston Martin DBS around the hairpin bends at the edge of Lake Garda. He’s spent his weekends blowing stuff up as a fully fledged member of the Army.
And that’s just for starters.
Now, for the first time, The Man in the White Suit gets his kit off. His name is Ben Collins. This is his breathtakingly audacious story.
Published by HarperCollins on 16th September 2010, £20 hardback