Top positive review
5 of 5 people found this helpful
Pleasant, informative and makes for a good read.
on 4 March 2012
Having no interest in cars whatsoever (especially since I have no license!), I was rather surprised when a car/bike fanatic friend of mine recommended this book to me. I was vaguely aware of The Stig, having seen one or two episodes before, but didn't really care about all the unpleasantness surrounding the BBC and Ben Collin's autobiography. Honestly, I don't see why the BBC wanted to prevent this from being published, there's nothing unpleasant within it that could have damaged Top Gear's reputation.
I have to admire Ben Collins. He wrote this whole book himself without the use of a ghost writer, and while I did spot a typo or two (Eurpope, and it should be 'while' instead of 'whilst'), the writing was rather slick and smooth and pleasant to read. Yes, seeing as Collins is a racing driver, there is a lot of talk about cars and driving, but it's not too technical and even I found it simple to read. I daresay aspiring racing drivers could actually pick or a few handy methods from Collins writing. Collins also highlighted how difficult the racing world can be - difficult to break into, difficult to stay within and very easy to forgotten. I can wholly understand his frustration at certain opportunities falling through due to lack of sponsorship or other letdowns.
In addition, I found his army training to be a big eye opener. As someone who runs 10 miles four days a week, just reading what he had to go through made my legs feel weak and my stomach to cramp - there's no way I'd be able to survive that, and from what I read in the book, Collins just about managed it. Collins doesn't just highlight how difficult life can be as a racing driver, the book also contains it share of witty and funny moments, especially those that happened on Top Gear, which did bring a smile on my face at times.
One thing that really shone through towards the end of the book was Collin's frustration that, as The Stig, he could get any racing job he wanted, but as himself the opportunities were not as vast. He really writes honestly as how he felt he was off track by prancing around as The Stig rather than doing what he loved - racing. It seems that he had no choice but to hang up the helmet and move on, and the only way to do so was to out himself as Stiggy. Having his identity known would certainly help him get more racing jobs than if he just went quietly.
Yes, as other reviewers have mentioned, it does tail off a little towards the end, but overall it was a good read - even for someone who couldn't care less about cars. Collins has nothing negative to say about his colleagues, but quite the opposite, and he describes events honestly and bears him emotions for the reader to see. The accompanying pictures were a nice touch, too - I'd rather have liked more.
I would recommend this book to anyone, it really is a good read, both frustrating and uplifting. I'm actually really glad my friend nagged me to buy a copy of this book, and I'll probably end up rereading it sometime in the future. I hope Ben Collins has a lot more luck in the future, he really has worked hard to deserve it.