Woolf Barnato obituary: Three-time Le Mans winner with Bentley

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Woolf Barnato

It was with real and heartfelt regret that we learned of the death of ” Babe ” Barnato, following an operation at a London nursing home, at the age of 53. To all enthusiasts Woolf Barnato, son of “Barney” Barnato, the diamond millionaire, is associated with the Bentley in the hey-day of “the wearing of the green.” He made fastest time at Le Mans in 1928 in a 4½-litre, partnered by Rubin. He won again in 1929, handling a 6½-litre in company with Sir Henry Birkin. And he did the hat-trick in 1980, winning a magnificent race, again in a 6½-litre, with Glen Kidston as co-driver, In 1980, too, Barnato won the J.C.C. “Double Twelve” in a 6½-litre Bentley, sharing the car with F. C. Clement.

Barnato commenced his racing career at Brooklands after the Kaiser war, racing Locomobile, Calthorpe, Mercedes, Austro-Daimler, Talbot, Ansaldo, Wolse ley, Enfield-Allday, Bagatti and Bentley cars. He broke records in Hispano Suiza and Bentley cars. He joined the Board of Bentley Motors, Ltd., a position he held to the end. His chauffeur-driven Mk. VI Bentley saloon was a valuable ambassador for British products wherever ” Babe ” travelled in recent times. He was President of the Bentley Drivers’ Club and a founder-member of the B.R.D.C. Always fond of big fast cars, such makes as Hispano Suiza, Bentley and Rolls-Royce figured in his stable down the years. After giving up racing he acted in various official capacities and was directly responsible for the Barnato-Hassan. Well known in London society and sporting circles, Barnato did his share of high speed on the water in the middle twenties. He served as a captain in the 1914-18 war and as a wing-commander during the Hitler trouble.

A pleasant personality, with an unassuming nature and a great relish for the sport in all its forms, Barnato retained a useful memory of cars and personalities,

The funeral, which took place at Englefield Green, was attended by many motor-racing celebrities, and the hearse was preceded by the 6½-litre Le Mans Bentley which “Babe” drove to victory at Le Mans in 1980, this still-impressive car carrying the wreaths and driven by Barnato’s personal chauffeur. It was a just tribute to a racing man whose modesty belied his great achievements, accomplished at the wheel of British cars.

 

Alpine Rally

Appleyard’s Jaguar has now been awarded the over 8-litre class, and given a Coupe Ville de Nice. The H.R.G. team win the one-make team prize as well as the foreigner’s team prize.

Spectator’s Viewpoint

Sir,

I feel that I cannot put away my July copy of Motor Sport without writing to say how much I agree with your leading article “Spectator Appeal.” Since 1938 I have tried to see as many races, etc., as my somewhat limited means will allow. I think it is absolutely vital that meetings should be run through quickly. If and when we have a circuit the problem will to a certain extent solve itself. Spectators having paid 5s. to 7s. 6d. to see an event, even if they do have to stand for four or five hours, ought to be given some consideration. I wonder if the organisers ever stand where the ordinary spectator will stand. If they do they probably do it in the middle of the winter when all the leaves are off the trees !

It is very hard to say which cars are definitely slow to watch. A slow time may be quite interesting, it all depends on the car and driver. I do think it is a pity that, after the really fast cars have made their first runs,’ we have to watch the incredibly slow machines all over again before those that are being eagerly awaited come up again. Car parking charges are pretty heavy in some places, too. This should never cost more than 2s. 6d. and even that is pretty stiff. It only costs Is. per day to leave a car at a railway station ; 2s. 6d. will last a week.

I am, yours, etc.,

M. Shawcross
Petworth