SENSIBLE STUFF — BUT THE STIG NEEDS A FEMININE TOUCH, TOO
OF COURSE I know The Stig. Who doesn’t these days? But I wasn’t expecting a grown-up book on driver education from Ben Collins.
It looks fairly full-on, a bit of a textbook, but the layout is easy to turn a page and get to the point. I also like the illustrations, which are straightforward and easy to understand.
The content is good, sensible stuff and it’s been packaged to make it an easy read. The chapters follow a logical flow.
I thought I should start with a couple of his basic tips, starting with the right way to sit in a car. I moved a bit closer to the wheel and also concentrated on holding it with my hands at quarterto-three, which is — surprisingly — more comfortable and also made me feel that I had better control.
He seems to rant a lot about “looking up”, which ImustI must admit gave me a greater sense of what was coming up as potential hazards in my peripheral vision. It’s probably true that we all concentrate on things too close to the end of the bonnet, when there is already something bad developing.
I’m a bit rough when it comes to braking, so I tried his tip to “feel” the brakes to make things smoother. It’s a good idea and it leads into smooth driving to save the planet, another of his mantras, but that that’s s a long long-term term project to cut energy use in every area of driving.
I already minimise the aircon but am now working on the best way to attack hills and descents to improve my fuel economy.
I like the idea of learning some more advanced techniques, such as hitting the apex in corners, but for that you need more than a book. As for oversteer and understeer, they are fantastic for race drivers but not for me.
I like the breakout bits on the sides of the main material, because that’s what Gen-Y readers will expect with their multi-tasking brains. The pictures are also entertaining and you get the impression that Ben is a successful racing driver and not just The Stig.
At first I didn’t think it was actually his writing, but then I checkedhis first book and that’s definitely his “voice” coming through in the text.
For me, it’s a very masculine book, with pictures that are male focused and illustrations that always show a guy and not a girl, but there might be a chance to feminise another edition. The colouring is very paleo diet, with trendy blackand-white pictures and orange highlights, but that could be changed to make it more inviting. I also think the British measurements, for example, feet and miles, should be changed for Australia.
I have an 18year-old male friend who would love this book and probably get a fair bit out of it.
But young girls won’t be nearly as interested so there is still an opening for someone to do a similar book from the feminine side.