Le Mans Renames Street In Honor Of Bentley Boys As Part Of Marque’s Centenary Celebrations
The Le Mans 24 Hour race taking place this weekend is paying a series of special tributes to Bentley as part of the inimitable marque’s 2019 centenary celebrations. And it’s led by the City of Le Mans going so far as to rename a street in honor of the all-conquering “Bentley Boys”. Bentley is marking its remarkable century milestone in a variety of ways during this year, and it’s fitting that the Le Mans event is not holding back on the festivities. Bentley has an illustrious heritage in the famous endurance race, and sitting central in Le Mans folklore are the Bentley Boys. This is the name given to a group of wealthy and dashing young men who dominated Le Mans in the 1920s with five victories between 1924 and 1930–including four consecutively from 1927. As well as this, after more than seven decades away, Bentley returned to Le Mans in the early part of the 21st century, and made it all the way back to overall victory, in 2003.
And today, on the eve of the latest running of the 24-Hour race, the City of Le Mans renamed one of its major streets, the Rue de Laigne, as “Rue Des Bentley Boys”, in honor both of Bentley’s Le Mans heritage and its 100th anniversary. The renaming ceremony was led by the Mayor of Le Mans, Stéphane Le Foll, and he was joined by Auto Club de l’Ouest president Pierre Fillon, Bentley’s director of motorsport Brian Gush, its head of heritage collection Robin Peel as well as several current-day “Bentley Boys”.
The Bentley tribute at Le Mans will not end there, as in addition an unprecedented line-up of 25 historic and modern Bentleys from across the last century will be driven on the parade lap of this year’s race, on Saturday. They will be led by the all-new and recently-unveiled Flying Spur grand tourer, which was released to mark the Bentley centenary and will be making its global dynamic debut at Le Mans as well as acting as the pace car. The parade will also include the 2003 Le Mans race-winning Speed 8, the 1925 3 Liter ‘Speed’, the 4 ½ Blower, the 3 Liter Team Car, a Brooklands and a Continental GT3-R, as well as the EXP 2.
The EXP 2 is the oldest surviving Bentley, and although it never raced at Le Mans it is the most successful racing Bentley ever with 11 first and seven second places to its name. The all-wheel drive Flying Spur will be driven by Chris Craft, Bentley’s member of the board for sales, marketing and aftersales.
There also on the Friday at Le Mans, next to the track’s Dunlop Curve just after the startline, will be a static display entitled “Bentley Through The Decades”, showing a host of legendary Bentley models including previous Le Mans racers. This will include Bentley Motors’ Birkin Team Car; the famous 1927 3-Liter No 2 Team Car from the 1930 race, the 1926 3-Liter Team Car No 8, as well as the EXP 2 and the Speed 8 2003 Le Mans-winner. The Bentley homage will all be topped off by a new display in the trackside 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum, which will showcase a replica Speed 8 and Speed 6 and will run until September this year.
Images courtesy of Bentley Motors