The identity of 'The Stig' - a disguised expert driver on BBC TV's widely televised motor show Top Gear - has long been the subject of speculation and wagering among car fans, and this week there were indications that endurance racing driver Ben Collins is the mystery man.
A flood of bets on Collins, some as high as £500, convinced top online bookie Paddy Power to first slash the odds on him and then suspend betting on The Stig's identity altogether.
Collins is one of several drivers thought by many punters to be the man behind the white helmet disguise that is never lifted. The current Stig is the second in the role, following the tenure of the first Stig, Perry McCarthy, who was retired from the show in 2003 after his identity was revealed.
Punters point to what they see as indicators that Collins is the man, citing the annual accounts for Collins Autosport Ltd from 2003, the year the present Stig first got behind the wheel, that describe it as "a cornerstone year".
The documents also mention: "In addition, driving services were also provided for the BBC, mainly in the Top Gear programme which promotes Ben's driving reputation and offers good long-term prospects for continuing income."
Collins is also a top stunt driver for film and television and appeared in the James Bond 007 film Quantum Of Solace.
The BBC has remained silent on the furore, and insists that The Stig's identity is still a secret.
Ken Robertson of Paddy Power said this week: "Betting really got out of hand over the weekend with scores of punters opening new accounts and placing chunky enough bets on Collins to be revealed as The Stig. As this stage it seems that the money has spoken and the name being shouted is that of Ben Collins."
Closing odds on the various possibilities on which gamblers are wagering are:
1/10 Ben Collins
6/1 Russ Swift
8/1 Julian Bailey
10/1 Chris Goodwin
10/1 Tim Schrick
12/1 Mark Webber
16/1 Terry Grant
20/1 Damon Hill
33/1 Heikki Kovalainen
40/1 Nigel Mansell
40/1 Rubens Barichello
50/1 Michael Schumacher
66/1 Lewis Hamilton
100/1 Jenson Button
Source: InfoPowa News