The 2003 Le Mans-winning Bentley Speed 8 will take to the track at Silverstone with a spectacular demonstration of its power at the 60th Bentley Drivers Club race weekend in August, running on-track on the Saturday of the two-day meeting. The weekend promises to be an action-packed ‘moving museum’ of Bentley’s motor racing heritage, as Bentleys of every era appear on the circuit and in the paddock.
The Speed 8 was the first Bentley to win Le Mans for 73 years, evoking the glory days when Bentley dominated the 24-hour endurance event, winning it no fewer than five times between 1924 and 1930. After its 2003 victory in the hands of Tom Kristensen, Dindo Capello and Guy Smith, the Speed 8 and its sister car (which finished second in the same race, driven by Johnny Herbert, Mark Blundell and David Brabham), retired from competition.
The mighty 600bhp, 217mph Speed 8 inevitably differs dramatically in appearance and power from the 200bhp, 125mph Speed Six Bentleys which won at Le Mans in 1929 and ’30, but each demonstrated the marque’s legendary reliability, and the victories have gone down in Bentley – and motor racing – history.
The presence of the Speed 8 at Silverstone is entirely appropriate for an event which mixes cars of all ages, and there will be a glorious array of the earlier racing Bentleys on show and on track, too, including other past Le Mans ‘works’ Bentleys. These will include the first ever, official Le Mans works Bentley, the 1925 3 Litre which ran as car no. 10 (earlier Le Mans cars were private entries). This will be joined by the 1926 3 Litre, ‘MK 5205’, another works entry which ran at Le Mans as car no. 8.
Plus there will be Brooklands cars and Bentleys that have raced at BDC events throughout the past 60 years – and nowhere will this mix be better seen than in the Bentley handicap race, where 75-year-old 3 Litres compete with more modern Turbo Rs.
The Bentley Drivers Club 60th Anniversary Meeting is at Silverstone on August 8-9, 2009.
[Source: Bentley Drivers Club; picture credit W.O. Bentley Memorial Foundation]