Words: Stuart Newman photos see credits below.
The Bentley Drivers Club’s popular annual race meeting – an institution on the British motor-racing calendar – once again saw another day of fantastic club racing at its very best at Silverstone on Saturday 5 August.
Bentleys of all ages – many raced by Club Members – shared the entry list with Morgans, Austin Healeys, MGBs, Triumphs, ACs and Lotuses all tackling the testing National circuit at the historic Northamptonshire venue.
The usual exciting mix of scratch and handicap races was supplemented by events for the AR Motorsport Morgan Challenge, FISCAR (Fifties Sports Car Racing Club) and Equipe GTS series on a packed nine-race programme (see list of race winners below).
The BDC celebrated victories for two of its Members: Bert Degenaar, competing in only his third ever race having earned his race licence just a few weeks ago, took the honours in the Padgett Motor Engineers Bentley Handicap Race at the wheel of Club colleague Ewen Getley’s gorgeous 1924 Bentley 3/4½. In the P&A Wood Bentley Race & Pre-War Team Challenge, it was BDC Members to the fore: Michael Higginbotham (1948 MkVI Special) claimed a convincing victory over the similar car of Paul Forty by 11 seconds in the race for Pre-1966 chassis cars; running just ahead with a 10-second start was an event for Post-1966 cars which was won comfortably by Simon Worthington (1990 Turbo R), with Ben Eastick (1966 T Type) 21 seconds adrift.
The former event – in which the 16-car grid was made up entirely of BDC Members in models ranging from Richard Frankel’s vintage 1921 3 Litre TT to the ‘younger’ 1990 Turbo R of Simon Worthington who set the fastest lap – saw a thrilling race with Degenaar narrowly prevailing over Stuart Worthington’s Bentley MkVI Special by just 0.96 seconds.
Elsewhere, Jonathan Abecassis scored two victories at the wheel of his rapid Austin Healey 100/4, his first a narrow win shared with Richard Woolmer in the two-driver FISCAR race, before following it up with a solo success in the Bic Healey Trophy & MG, Morgan Challenge. Oli Bryant and Keith Ahlers (Plus 8s) enjoyed two fantastic scraps, taking a win apiece in the AR Motorsport Morgan Challenge double-header.
One of the highlights of the BDC’s annual social calendar, this year’s meeting also featured the traditional and popular lunchtime track parade of more than 80 Members’ Bentleys. Among the fabulous array of cars on show, ranging from vintage Blowers to the more modern Continentals and all models in between, was a Bentayga believed to be making its UK track debut.
A display of a dozen classic Bentleys, all judged winners at the BDC’s recent Concours d’Elegance at Sudeley Castle, added their own pristine touch to proceedings in the paddock while budding racing drivers were able to follow in the wheeltracks of British heroes Stirling Moss and Lewis Hamilton by testing their skills lapping the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit on a hi-tech simulator provided by event sponsor Pirelli.
There was also much for Bentley buffs to check out elsewhere, including at the BDC’s Club shop, the WO Bentley Memorial Foundation stand and various traders’ stalls.
Ron Warmington, BDC Chairman, commented: “Yet again we enjoyed a fabulous day’s racing, coupled with a fantastic array of Bentley models in the parade, on what is always one of the highlights of our Club’s social calendar. And I was delighted to see plenty of Members and spectators enjoying the many attractions and stalls in the paddock.
“We are proud of our meeting’s reputation for being one of the best family events on the club racing calendar and long may that continue.”
Race 1 – AR Motorsport Morgan Challenge: Oliver Bryant (Morgan Plus 8).
Race 2 – Equipe GTS: Tom Smith (MGB Roadster).
Race 3 – P&A Wood Bentley Race for Pre-1966 and Post-1966 Cars & Pre-War Team Challenge: Overall & Post-1966 – Simon Worthington (Turbo R); Pre-1966 – Michael Higginbotham (MkVI Special).
Race 4 – FISCAR: Richard Woolmer/Jonathan Abecassis (Austin Healey 100/4).
Race 5 – Valet PRO Allcomers Handicap Race: John Taylor (Crossle 95).
Race 6 – Bic Healey Trophy & MG, Morgan Challenge: Jonathan Abecassis (Austin Healey 100/4).
Race 7 – Padgett Motor Engineers Bentley Handicap Race: Bert Degenaar (Bentley 3/4½).
Race 8 – AR Motorsport Morgan Challenge: Keith Ahlers (Morgan Plus 8).
Race 9 – Barry Hopkinson Ltd Allcomers & Bentley Race for Post-1966 Cars: Steven Dickens (Mallock MK29).
01: Bert Degenaar (Bentley 3/4½), winner of the Padgett Motor Engineers Bentley Handicap Race. Photo credit: Peter de Rousset-Hall
02: Simon Worthington (Bentley Turbo R), overall and class victor in the P&A Wood Bentley Race for Pre-1966 and Post-1966 Cars & Pre-War Team Challenge. Photo credit: Peter de Rousset-Hall
03: BDC Club President Jimmy Medcalf demonstrates his magnificent 3 Litre in the BDC Members’ track parade. Photo credit: Peter de Rousset-Hall
04: The Bentayga – this version driven by BDC Member Russell Brenner – prepares to make what is believed to be its UK track debut in the parade. Photo credit: Russell Browne
05: Modern-day Bentley Continentals took their place in the BDC members’ lunchtime track parade at Silverstone
06: Philip Owen’s gorgeous 1971 Bentley T Type Special participated in the BDC members’ lunchtime track parade at Silverstone
07: Spectators check out an array of more than 80 Bentleys lined up for the BDC members’ lunchtime track parade at Silverstone
08: Vintage Bentleys prepare for the BDC members’ lunchtime track parade at Silverstone
09: Vintage Bentleys rolled back the years during the BDC members’ lunchtime track parade at Silverstone
10: It’s a 3 Litre to the fore as modern and retro attire proved the order of the day for participants in the BDC members’ lunchtime track parade at Silverstone