Ben Collins is a British former racing driver whose career lasted for more than twenty years between 1994 and 2015 in different racing disciplines, including single-seaters, sports cars and stock cars. He captured his only championship title in ASCAR, the UK-based stock car series, in 2003.
Apart from his racing career, he is most known as The Stig, the masked test driver in the popular automotive show Top Gear. He was also working as a presenter for some other TV shows and provides precision and stunt driving services through his company Collins Autosport Limited.
Early career in Formula Vauxhall and Formula 3
Born in February 1975 in Bristol, England, Ben Lievesley Collins spent his first ten years of life in California, where his father was working. After returning to England and finishing an education, he served in the British Army, being a driving instructor.
Collins started his racing career in 1994 in national Formula Vauxhall championship. He gained some success in 1995, winning two races and finishing third in the points of the Formula Vauxhall Junior. He made a step up to Formula 3 in 1996 and stayed in the competition until 1998, racing in the UK but also in some international events such were F3 Macau Grand Prix or Masters of F3.
Ben Collins in 2000
A season in the Indy Lights and return to Formula 3
In 1998, Collins also recorded two starts in the International Sports Car Racing Series, driving a Matrix MXP-Nissan for Simpson Engineering. Then, in 1999, he went to the USA to compete in the Indy Lights series with Johansson Motorsports. He was on a podium once, in the last race at California Speedway, finishing 13th in the points.
Collins returned to the UK in 2000 and raced with Carlin in the British Formula 3. He won one race, finishing eighth in the points. Outside championship, his best result was the second place at the Masters of Formula 3.
Ben Collins in the #17 Ascari A410 Judd in 2001
Collins joined Team Ascari in 2001
In 2001, Collins recorded just two starts in Formula 3 with Alain Menu Racing but focused on sports car racing. He joined Team Ascari to drive an Ascari A410-Judd in the FIA Sportscar Championship. His co-driver was South African Werner Lupberger. They won a race at Donington Park to finish sixth in the overall standings.
He also participated in some races of the European Le Mans Series or American Le Mans Series. In June 2001, Collins made a debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans, sharing the #20 Ascari A410 with Werner Lupberger and Harri Toivonen. They retired after 134 laps with a broken fuel pump.
In 2002, Collins stayed with Team Ascari on a part-time basis, driving an Ascari KZR1-Judd at Daytona 24h (DNF), Sebring 12h (6th) and Le Mans 24h (DNF).
In 2003, Ben Collins won ASCAR championship in the #84 car
ASCAR champion in 2003
In 2003, Collins completely switched a racing discipline. He entered UK-based stock car series ASCAR, driving for Ray Mallock Ltd. (RML). In thirteen races over eight rounds, he won six times in the #84 car and dominantly won the championship title ahead of Colin White.
In 2004, the competition was renamed to Days of Thunder Series and Collins was defending his title in the #42 Chevrolet of Team Turn Four. He was a race winner once, finishing fourth in the points.
Two wins in the British GT Championship
In 2004, he also participated in two sports car events alongside Neil Cunningham, driving Embassy Racing's Chevrolet Corvette in the British GT Championship round at Thruxton and RJN Motorsport's Nissan 350Z in the FIA GT Championship race at Zhuhai.
In 2005, Collins rejoined Embassy Racing to drive their Porsche 996 GT3 RSR both in the British GT Championship and FIA GT Championship. He and Neil Cunningham won races at Knockhill and Silverstone. Collins finished sixth in the points.
In 2006, Collins was combining driving duties with Damax and ProTran Competition, driving an Ascari KZ1R in the FIA GT3 European Championship and Protran RS06/H LMP1 prototype in the Le Mans Series. In 2007, he participated in just one round of the FIA GT3 European Championship, driving an Ascari KZ1R for Team Berlanga.
Ben Collins in2009
Australian adventure with Kelly Racing's Holden
Collins skipped racing in 2008 and then decided to try himself in the Australian Supercars Championship in 2009. He joined Kelly Racing to drive the #15 Jack Daniel's Holden VE Commodore in two endurance rounds, at Phillip Island and Bathurst.
He was sharing a car with Nathan Pretty, finishing 18th at Phillip Island's L&H 500 and 20th at Mount Panorama's Bathurst 1000.
BTCC debut with BMW in 2010
Collins continued with occasional racing in 2010, making a debut in the British Touring Car Championship and joining RML in three rounds of the Le Mans Series. In the BTCC, he was driving the #12 BMW 320si for Motorbase/Airwaves team in the season-closing round at Brands Hatch. He was 14th in the first race, 12th in the second race and retired in the third race.
In the Le Mans Series, Collins was sharing the #25 Lola B08/80-HPD with Thomas Erdos and Mike Newton in three rounds, at Algarve, Hungaroring and Silverstone. They were LMP2 class winners at Algarve.
Ben Collins as BMW driver in 2010 BTCC season
Successful appearance at 2011 Le Mans 24h
In 2011, Collins stayed with RML in the Le Mans Series and recorded his third attempt at 24 Hours of Le Mans. He finally reached the finish line at Circuit de la Sarthe, finishing the 12th overall and fourth inLMP2 class in the #36 HPD ARX-01d, sharing a car with Thomas Erdos and Mike Newton.
In the LMS, he was sharing a car with same co-drivers, finishing 15th in the LMP2 classification. Their best result was the fourth place in class at Silverstone.
Three starts in the 2014 FIA WEC season
Ben Collins was out of racing for two seasons, being occupied with other jobs. He returned to competitive racing in 2014 in the FIA World Endurance Championship. First, he joined RAM Racing to drive the #53 Ferrari 458 GTC at Silverstone 6 Hours, finishing fifth in GTE Am class. His co-drivers were Johnny Mowlem and Mark Patterson.
In June 2014, Collins recorded his fourth participation at Le Mans 24 Hours. He was driving the #57 Ferrari 458 GTC for Krohn Racing, sharing a car with Tracy Krohn and Niclas Jonsson. They finished 30th overall and 10th in GTE Am class. In September, Collins rejoined Krohn Racing at 6 Hours of COTA, what was his last official race in a career.
In February 2015, he was supposed to drive a Ferrari 458 GT3 for Maranello Motorsport at Bathurst 12 Hour but the team didn't start the race because his teammate Tony D'Alberto unrepairable crashed a car during practice.