Some say his blood type is 110 octane and that his bedroom wall is plastered with posters of scantly clad V12 engines. Others say that his voice matches the timbre of a modern Formula One car. All we know is he’s Ben Collins, the man behind the Stig on Top Gear.
Part of the running gag on Top Gear was that the Stig was a tame but silent racecar driver. He never spoke and never removed his helmet, although he seemed to indicate his contempt for people’s lack of driving skills. He also had an eclectic taste in music, listening to everything from opera to progressive rock and country while setting fast laps around a makeshift track at Dunsfold Aerodrome.
As for Ben Collins, he’s not silent but an engaging person with an impressive resume as a race car driver and stunt coordinator for the Daniel Craig-era James Bond films. Collins also has his own YouTube channel, “Ben Collins Drives,” where he pilots a variety of supercars and race cars, including Ferraris and Aston Martins, and Porsches.
In this video, he drives one of his all-time hero cars, a Group C Porsche 962. It’s the car he had a poster of on his bedroom wall as a kid. As an evolution of the Porsche 956, a car that won Le Mans four times, it was the pinnacle of 1980s engineering. The 962 proved a formidable race car well into the 1990s and even spawned a road-legal version of the car.
The Rothmans Porsche 962 is a particularly iconic car. Painted the unmistakable blue and white livery with red and gold stripes, it’s one of three Rothmans-backed works cars from the mid-1980s. This car was driven by Jackie Ickx and Jochen Mass and set the pole at Le Mans in 1987. It looks massive but barely weighs 900 kilograms, or about 2,000 pounds. The 2.6-liter flat-six puts out 600 horsepower and, like most turbocharged Porsches of that era, has a bit of a lag before the power kicks in.
The Porsche 962 was followed by the WSC-95, which won Le Mans in 1996 and 1997. It shared the same basic Type-935 flat-six engine as the 962, bumped up to 3.2 liters of displacement. The LMP1 briefly replaced the WSC-95 until Porsche took a hiatus from endurance racing, returning in 2005 with the RS Spider.