One of these fine days, i’m going to get around to reading more about the hardcore rock and roll stories of the original Bentley Boys.
“In 1923, three dedicated automobile enthusiasts decided to create a competition based not only on speed, but also on endurance. This was the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours, destined to become one of the world’s most prestigious races. For Walter Owen Bentley and other manufacturers, the idea seemed pretty crazy, but that did not prevent him from rising to the challenge by sending one of his cars to take part in the first edition. 1924 witnessed a glorious triumph: the British firm won the Le Mans 24 Hours with a Bentley 3 Litres – a feat that it accomplished four more times, in 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930, the two latter victories being earned in a Speed 6. This was the era of the legendary Bentley Boys: Benjafield, Birkin, Davis, Rubin, Kidston and above all Barnato, the most famous of them all, a multi-millionaire South African diamond merchant. Gifted sportsmen, authentic connoisseurs of life’s many pleasures and mostly fabulously wealthy, the Bentley Boys raced first and foremost for honour, fired by a taste for challenges.”
“The first ‘blown’ Bentley was a three litre (FR5189) which had been supercharged at the Bentley works in 1926. W. O. Bentley despised forced induction and Henry “Tim” Birkin undertook to develop the blower Bentley as a private venture. In January 1929 he leased a workshop in Welwyn Garden City, hired a team of ex-Bentley mechanics, and created a team of four supercharged Bentleys—three road cars to race at le Mans and a single seater track car intended for use mostly at Brooklands.”
I work about 400 metres away from the site of the Birkin workshop which is now, appropriately enough, a tyre and exhaust centre.