Ben Collins (courtesy of Harper Collins)

Ben Collins (courtesy of Harper Collins)

Ben Collins might be best known for wearing a white suit and helmet, but there’s far more to him than The Stig.

The stunt driver’s now on the set of the latest entry to the Fast and Furious saga, having just finished being Daniel Craig’s driving double on the set of Skyfall and throughout the years has competed at the very highest levels of motor racing.

We caught up with him to talk about his driving both on set and track and what drove him into the world of stunts.

So, you were the main stunt driver for Skyfall, what was that like?

It was awesome. I finished that a few months ago and I’ve moved on subsequently to work on Fast and The Furious 6. It was my second Bond film and I’m always proud to work on them, the team of guys that work on them are fantastic and I think Daniel makes a great Bond, so it’s a brilliant thing to work on.

This isn’t your first Bond either, so what was it like when you got the call to join this franchise?

You’ve got to pinch yourself; it’s one of those dream jobs. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work on a couple of them in my career and Bond really was a step up, a much bigger production with big budget car chases.

We had an incredible car too, the Aston Martin DBS, which is just a complete weapon and I’m as comfortable in that as I am in a racing car, which is where I spend most of my time.

Most people will know you from your time on Top Gear. Despite the unpleasant end to it all, do you look back on your time there fondly?

Yeah, I’ll always look on it fondly. It was a complicated way to leave, I’d done my best to protect the anonymity of The Stig and eight years was a good innings and I thought it was time to move on. There was then the comical battle with the BBC, which I was glad I won and my book came out. It was a positive reflection of my time there, because I had such a great time.

It was nice that we’ve all made up now; I’ve been back on Top Gear a couple of times since and they actually came out to film behind the scenes on Skyfall, so it was really good seeing them.

You’ve been Bond, Batman and The Stig, so what’s been your favourite role?

I like coming home to be honest! Being a dad’s my favourite alter ego and something I need to spend more time doing. I’ve got three children under five, so it’s more action packed than a Bond movie.

You’ve also so far had a fantastic career motor racing. How do you go about squeezing these filming commitments around racing?

I’ve been very fortunate to have these incredible opportunities, but racing is my real passion. It’s very hard to hang your helmet up. After I left Top Gear, we [Ben’s team] won the Le Mans Endurance Championship in a 200 mile an hour prototype car.

Fortunately, in this racing, the season is x amount of races and in between I’m able to able to go work on these films. So it works out quite well diary-wise.

You’ve competed at the prestigious Le Mans 24 hour endurance race. What’s the hardest thing about driving in that event?

The concentration is over a much longer period of time. So especially in qualifying, at places like Le Mans because the speeds are so high, you have to be incredibly committed. By that I mean you’ve got to carry shed loads of speed in to every corner and you’ve got to be right on your game if you’re going to be fast enough.

If you’re not pushing 101%, someone else will and they’ll be quicker than you. But then you’ve got to do for not only one lap, as a team you’ve got to do that for 24 hours. You’ve also got all the sessions building up to it and it becomes a very long week, particularly for the crews. They’re absolutely shattered by the time they even get to the race, let alone the race itself.

It only takes one tiny mistake or a lapse in concentration to put you out of the race, so it’s really punishing in that sense. It’s the concentration and focus, but that’s why we love it too.

You’ve driven so many different types of racing car, but what’s been your favourite so far?

The Le Mans cars are so good. I’ve tested Red Bull’s F1 car and there NASCAR, and I love the oval stuff, but there’s nothing like a Le Mans car. You’re in the car for such a long time, up to three hours at a time come rain or shine, night or day. Then there’s the stopping power of the carbon brakes, all that downforce and these berserk engines we’ve got kicking out 500 horsepower.

There’s also something surreal about driving at night with these different classes. If you’re in a P1 prototype [the fastest cars at Le Mans] you’ll be going past some probably terrified bloke in Porsche at double their speed. For me, sportscar racing is a very special kind of racing. It’s got such an enduring fan base for that reason as well; it just offers so many different types of cars.

You wanted to be a fighter pilot when you were younger, what happened there?

Well, I didn’t pass muster on the eye test, which was pretty gutting. So, I couldn’t be a fighter pilot, which was disappointing, because with my better eye I can see just below the bottom line of an eye chart. So that was a bit frustrating, but that desire and that temperament applied really well to racing which is very competitive sport. It’s obviously for speed junkies and probably attracts more people like me who wanted to be fighter pilots. So it was a great outlet to have.

Is there anything at all you can tell us about Fast and Furious 6?

Not much, except that it will be both be very fast and furious. It won’t disappoint.

Lastly, as a professional racing driver, what are your thoughts on Lewis Hamilton moving teams in Formula One?

It’s interesting. For him, it’s a huge sweeping change, because he’s been at McClaren for so long and they’ve been a shaping force in his career since his early teens when he was racing go-karts. Ron Dennis [the head of McClaren] is a very powerful ally to have.

With Formula One, there’s so much happening behind the scenes, that even I don’t have privileged access to understand and you’ve got to make calculated decisions based on the performance of the car in the future and where you think it will take you.

So he obviously looked at the Mercedes package and, it’s still Ross Brawn and that guy’s a genius. I’ll be expecting some fireworks.


Ben Collins is currently supporting the Kit Kat We Will Find You promotion, which gives 6 winners the chance to win £10,000 in 24 hours of activating a unique GPS bar.

FemaleFirst Cameron Smith