The Man in the White Suit Book Cover
I just finished reading Ben Collins‘ book The Man in the White Suite: The Stig, Le Mans, the Fast Lane and Me and wanted to jot down some thoughts. As a huge fan of the BBC’s Top Gear I have been looking forward Ben Collins’ book since his role as The Stig was confirmed last year (due in part to the law suit brought by BBC and the producers of Top Gear to keep Collins and his publisher for selling this book).
Should Collins have written this book? It seems that there is a group of very vocal Top Gear fans out there that are angry at Collins for revealing his role as The Stig and removing the mystery. Personally I don’t find it all upsetting. If I were the producers of Top Gear I would milk this for all it is worth (and they have actually, think The Stig Farm for starters). The book and the incidents around its release make for great publicity for the show.
So what about the book?
First off you should know that Ben Collins, as handy as he might be behind the wheel of a super car, is not not going to be confused for Shakespeare. The Man in the White Suit is not a work of literary art but it is a fairly tight, well paced read. Collins jumps around a fair amount (and some reviewers have complained about the disconnects) however I found the pacing and jumps to be fairly logical and tight.
The book is really aimed at someone who is a fan of Top Gear and high performance automobiles and auto racing. As a fan of all of the above I found Collins’ book to be very interesting. My primary complaint about the book is that I actually want more. I want more stories of his coming up through the auto racing ranks and definitely more behind the scenes stories from the set of Top Gear.
Verdict: If you are a Top Gear fan and don’t hate Collins for revealing that he was The Stig then you should get this book.
Last week I wrote about how dreadful I thought episode one (Cobra Attack) of the new Top Gear USA was. As of today I have manged to catch up with the show and watch both episode two (Blind Drift) and episode three (Flying Coupe DeVille). The verdict? The show is improving, slowly.
The hosts are still painfully wooden when talking directly to the camera or interviewing guests. These guys need some serious help to learn how to loosen up. When they aren’t talking at the camera things improve dramatically and the show begins to flow more naturally.
When it comes to reviewing a car the only one of the three with decent credentials is Tanner Foust. Rutledge Wood’s review of the Aston Martin Vantage in episode two (Blind Drift) was lame even if it was beautifully shot (almost Top Gear UK quality cinematography). Contrast that with Tanner’s almost exciting race against skiers in the Mitsubishi Evo… yes it was a bit on the lame side but Tanner flogs the Evo down the mountainside and loves every minute of it. Tanner is no Clarkson but he has promise and the driving skills to back up his automotive opinions.
That said I loved Wood’s comment about the V12 Vantage being like, “Angelina Jolie in knee high boots with a riding crop.”
Challenge wise episode two (Blind Drift) and episode three (Flying Coupe DeVille) beat episode one (Cobra Attack) handily with the blind drifting competition currently at the top of my list. Tanner’s expression when the brought out the blind comedian he had to teach to drift was priceless and easily the best single moment of the first three episodes.
And… what is the deal with The Stig? “Our silent race car driver?” Can’t the writers come up with something better than that?
So yes, Top Gear USA is improving, slowly, but it still has a long way to go. Let’s hope they keep getting better.
P.S. The Brett Michaels Hit and Roll song sucks.