History in the making with the VSCC Benjafields 100 Bentley race at Silverstone. The race flag waved by His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent and 40 Pre-war Bentley cars took to a Le Mans style start – the first time in the UK, for 50 years. Ben Cussons, Motorsport UK, Silverstone, VSCC and Benjafields Motor Club all worked well to get that sorted out. Ben said he had initially wanted the Bentley racing cars to line up against the wall. Well thankfully they were over the far side, a perfect place for us photographers and all the spectators in the hospitality suites.
Not only did the Le Mans start provide a spectacle, the 40 Pre-War Bentley racing cars with an average price tag of £450K each (some over £5M), one car for me was something of a speciality, ‘Little Red’ the car once owned by May Cunliffe. In 1927 Ms Cunliffe was the first woman in the UK to commission her car to be supercharged. Now owned by the Singer family and I hope to correspond more with the family, as May Cunliffe was a very interesting character indeed.
One further spectacle of the race, although she will undoubtedly refuse to admit, was the premier race of Rachel Kirby. Kirby who owns her own Bentley, usually Hill Trials and Climbs, has never raced before and took her ARDS exam specifically for this race. Eddie McGuire invited Rachel, knowing her confidence with Bentley car anyway. What a brilliant sight to see Rachel’s and another black/orange signature sticker on these Bentley racing cars.
I asked Rachel what was the most frightening part to the race?
“Down by what reminds me of the Henley river loop, I had two Bentleys behind me, either side of me.”
What did you do I asked?
“I just carried on.”
I was so proud of Rachel, such a simple sentence but fully, I mean fully loaded. Any of us who have raced, (I have only raced twice) know the feeling.
I need to apologise to David Brabham for being so bossy and telling him to get down to the paddock immediately, If he wanted to see the babble of Bentleys and Le Mans heroes before they all sifted apart, and apologise for the high level of inadequate photos – I really forgot to compose and got so utterly immersed in the Le Mans start then waited for the driver changes and just got very excited! They’re not the worst I have taken in my life! And anyway, who else has used a beast like the 1966 135mm F2.8 Leica M Elmarit for track shots? I had to transfer to my trusty 75mm F1.4 M Summilux the end!
I would like to thank the British Racing Drivers Club allowing me access to park and to utilise the members Club House for refreshments, a place of calm and to be able to meet other racing drivers.
Enjoy the gallery, sorry for blurriness, lack of composition and some total muck ups… but I hope it creates the atmosphere for you. As usual all photos for sale.. contact me for further details.