Thursday, 12 August 2010

BENTLEY DRIVERS CLUB AT SILVERSTONE

3 litre Bentleys in the parade as the rain begins (around 100 Bentleys took part). Image: Peter de Rousset-Hall

The Bentley Drivers Club 61st Annual Race Meeting at Silverstone on August 7th saw fantastic racing from a wonderfully diverse range of Bentleys and other marques. And, in the true spirit of the original Bentley Boys of the 1920s, the event saw a number of owners of modern Bentleys turning out with their contemporary machines tuned and presented for racing against their vintage counterparts.

“The mix of cars of all shapes, sizes and ages really took everyone back to the early days of motor racing,” said Sebastian Welch, Competitions Captain of the BDC, “and it was particularly heartening to see everything from a very early, brakeless, front-axled 3 litre Bentley up to the mighty 2005 GT, which was colourfully vinyl wrapped, just as owners have tuned and developed Bentleys for some 80 years. It’s a tradition that we in the Club are delighted to see continue.”

Key to this event is the informality of a true club meeting; grass-roots motorsport at its very best. “Although many of the cars are true museum pieces, they’re not kept in museums – we race them as they were always intended to be,” commented Clive Morley, who campaigned two vintage Bentleys at Silverstone, “and there’s a great atmosphere in the paddock. People can get really close to the cars – even sit in some of them.”

It’s also a superb family event. Spectators of all ages had plenty to entertain them, including the magnificent sight of 100 Bentleys old and new parading around a rather wet Silverstone, and exhibition laps by the Le Mans development car, EXP Speed 8. It was also a family event for the racers themselves, with husbands and wives competing against each other and, in the case of Clive Morley and his family, three generations out on the track.

The Bentley Drivers Club also continued the tradition of the race meetings of decades ago by inviting other marques to attend, which added to the excitement and spectacle. Two Morgan races were hugely entertaining, while other races featured Bugatti, D-type Jaguar, Lagonda, Allard, Frazer Nash, Aston Martin, Austin-Healey and MG, to name but a few.

Not surprisingly, this hugely popular meeting attracts overseas enthusiasts, not just to watch but also to compete. One competitor drove his 41/2 litre Bentley from Brussels, then campaigned it out on the track – again, very much in the spirit of those early racers.

“We were delighted with the event,” concluded Sebastian Welch. “We had full grids for a number of races, a strong turn-out of spectators, close-fought, exhilarating racing and that inimitable, relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that makes our annual Silverstone meeting so special.”

Source: Bentley Drivers Club