Motoring News

Le Mans and Bentley: 100 years on and city honours Brit racers

  • World’s best endurorace pays homage to ton-up Bentley
  • Cars from Bentley’s first 100 years driven at Le Mans
  • Bentley exhibition at 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum
THE MAN WHO STARTED IT ALL: W.O. Bentley in one of his early race cars. Image: Bentley Motors

LE MANS, France/CREWE, England – The 100-year racing heritage of Bentley Motors was honoured at the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans – said to be the world’s greatest motorsport event.

The City of Le Mans has renamed a street in honour of the indomitable ‘Bentley Boys’ who won five Le Mans 24-Hours between 1924 and 1930 and their successors which took the laurels in 2003. (See below.)

On Saturday (June 14 2019) 25 Bentley cars from across the marque’s century drove the Parade Lap at the beginning of the race, led by the all-new Flying Spur in its global dynamic debut alongside the 2003 Le Mans race-winning EXP Speed 8.

WATCH THE highlights of the 2019 Le Mans race

A trackside display, ‘Bentley Through The Decades’, was another highlight of this the 87th 24-Hour, among them legendary Bentley previous Le Mans race entries: Bentley Motor’s Birkin Team Car; the legendary 1927 three-litre No 2 Team Car from the 1930 race, and the 1926 three-litre Team Car No 8. EXP 2, the oldest surviving Bentley.

It never raced at Le Mans but is the most successful racing Bentley yet with 11 first and seven second places.

WATCH THE Bentley history video

A new display on Bentley’s racing heritage was also open in the trackside 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum. Honouring Bentley’s six famous victories.the display showcased a replica Speed 8 and Speed 6.

The display will remain at the track until end September 2019.

…AND THE HONOUR FROM THE CITY

The City of Le Mans has renamed one of its major streets in memory of Bentley’s illustrious racing heritage. The Rue de Laigne in central Le Mans becomes Rue des Bentley Boys to salute the group of wealthy young men who raced W.O. Bentley’s fast and dependable cars in the early 20th Century as well as their 21st- Century successors.

WATCH MORE about Bentley’s illustrious racing history

During the 1920’s Bentley enjoyed great success on the racetrack and broke many speed records. It brought W.O.’s new company front page recognition, none more so than the company’s first Le Mans victory in 1924.

W.O. worked with ‘Bentley Boy’ John Duff (a Canadian motorsportsman and Le Mans driver) to prepare for the 1924 race, travelling to France to watch his car take the company’s first chequered flag at Le Mans. The Bentley Boys went on to win consecutively four more races (1927-30,) to dominate the Golden Era of Le Mans racing and delivering one of the sport’s greatest achievements.

After an absence of 73 years, Bentley returned to contest the 2001 Le Mans in 2001 and won the  2003 race.

The Mayor of Le Mans, Stéphane Le Foll, led the street re-naming and was joined by representatives of Auto Club de l’Ouest, president Pierre Fillon, Bentley’s director of motorsport Brian Gush, Bentley’s head of the Heritage Collection Robin Peel, and several current ‘Bentley Boys’.

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