New Bentley Records

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The Stanley Mann equipe which specialises in banked track recordbreaking with vintage Bentleys has broken some more significant records. At Millbrook on May 28th the Bentley-Jackson, restored since its Brooklands days by Vaughan Davis and John Guppy and given front brakes and a new body, set itself the tough task of bettering the UK Class B (5000cc to 8000cc) 500-mile record, set by the late J.G. Parry Thomas at Brooklands in 1926, with his straight-eight 7.2-litre Leyland-Thomas, the year before ‘Babs’ killed him at Pendine. The speed to beat was 110.04 mph.

It was a difficult record to take with a virtually new car, more so with a pre-war one, 64 years later . . . . But the old Bentley-Jackson rose to the occasion. On this warm day it never faltered. The new UK records, subject to confirmation, are 200 miles at 113.427 mph, three hours at 113.597 mph, and the sought-after 500 miles at 112.793 mph. Four drivers took turns at the wheel, Davis, his friend Phil Greenwood, Guppy, and Stanley Mann who has assisted with the Bentley-Jackson rebuild. Modern refuelling was used, ten gallons going into a new smaller-capacity tank in lm 33s. Some eleven minutes were lost in all, with this and the driver-change pit-stops.

The 1937 6 1/2-litre engine, running on pump petrol, gave no trouble and the smaller fuel tank stood up to the job in hand, whereas previously a larger one was apt to rupture, just as so many fuel tanks did at Brooklands in the 500 Mile Races and on long duration record bids. The best lap was at just over 119 mph and afterwards the Bentley-Jackson was driven home. Congrats all round! The oil used was Castrol, the tyres Dunlop. A most creditable performance!

Let us, however, spare a thought for Parry Thomas, at this time when ancient Brooklands’ records are going off the record-book forever. He went out after his racing season was over, in October 1926, his target an eight-hour run. In those days tyres were the problem on a heavy car and the co-driver, George Duller, also failed to turn up. Three tyres failed, and the wrong type of pump caused the two scheduled refuelling stops to occupy nearly 1.30s, instead of half that time. After six hours the Welsh designer-driver, having started at 8.30am, called it a day, tired and dazed, although he was a strong man. Paul Dutoit offered to continue but was not acquainted with the big car and Thomas stopped him after he had done a few laps at about 100 mph. Parry Thomas had taken three World Records, that day however; “That’s not bad”, he said as he walked away.

By 1935 Ab Jenkins with his 7.1-litre Duesenberg Special had broken Thomas’ three World figures, at Utah, and two years later he raised these again, to over 170 mph, with his 25.3-litre Mormon Meteor, also at Utah. It is Thomas’ three hour and 500-mile records which remained British Class-B figures and Cyril Paul’s 200-mile British Record of 1930 with a 6-litre Delage, which the Bentley-Jackson has broken, by margins of 2.32, 2.75 and 13.77 mph respectively, subject to official confirmation. Incidentally, the Bentley-Jackson was the last car to gain a 130 mph BARC badge, in 1939, driven by G.P. Harvey Noble.

WB.

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