The forgotten Bentley Boy, by Geoffrey O’Connell
This is a welcome account of this racing driver, his friends, and his racing career. He counts as a ‘Bentley Boy’ on account of having driven in the Le Mans 24-hour race as part of the official team. He was paired with Clive Gallop; they retired with a broken valve rocker. But Thistlethwaite also raced two 3-litre Bentleys and then the more exciting supercharged 36/220 and 36/250 Mercedes-Benz.
This large 262-page book also contains brief information about Scrap’s racing friends, from Woolf Barnato to Louis Zborowski, but the bulk of the history is about Scrap’s own racing in cars and boats, the Thistlethwaite family, the enormous wealth they had and the fine mansions they occupied, such as Maiden Erleigh, and Southwick House standing in 8000 acres of southern Hampshire which Tom inherited In 1924, aged 21, by which time it had been in the family for some 386 years.
The text is light-hearted, and there is much about Zborowski’s racing cars, together with a large number of illustrations and occasional cartoons. The atmosphere of those long-gone days is splendidly brought to life. This book about a not-always-remembered racing driver is essential for those interested in the 1920s. The author notes that Scrap owned cars from AC to Wolseley, and that he himself had a 1925 Alvis.
Published by Willowbridge Publishing, ISBN 978 0 956 0265 0 7, £45. www.willowbridge-publishing.com