Owner and founder of the leading name in vintage Bentleys, William Medcalf Vintage Bentley, will perform timed runs of the famous Hillclimb at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in a unique 1936 Bentley single seater.
William is more than used to racing monstrous vintage Bentleys from the 1920s and 1930s, having competed in events around the world from Goodwood to Le Mans, but this will be the first time he has taken on the world-famous Festival of Speed.
Wally Hassan was arguably the greatest Bentley mechanic of his generation; after the company was sold in 1932, Hassan was retained to work directly for Woolf Bernato on his personal cars. Barnato decided to build an 8 litre Bentley Brooklands outer circuit single seater (later to be known as the Barnato-Hassan). The purpose was to take the outright record at Brooklands. Bill Pacey approached Bernato and asked if his ‘mechanic’ could build him a 4 ½ litre version at the weekends.
As a result, the Pacey-Hassan was born, but with one unique design feature only later admitted by Hassan. When he built the engine, he fitted several compression plates to the block. For the 1936 season when the car was successful, fresh handicaps were applied which were known to be quite harsh.
Hassan would pull the engine down to make sure everything was at its best, and when he reassembled he would forget to fit all of the compression plates! The handicappers were astonished that the car remained so competitive for so long.
The practice of pulling the engine down and checking it had proved fruitful. Eventually when all the compression plates were exhausted, the car was no longer competitive in that form. Hassan then moved on to supercharging the engine for the 1937 season. The Pacey-Hassan achieved an ultimate lap of 129.03.
Post-war, the car was fitted with two-seated coachwork and by the 1970s it had been returned to its original form – it has been raced extensively and very successfully ever since.
The car is now looked after by the team at William Medcalf Vintage Bentley. Using their extensive expertise, the Pacey is now reported to produce over 230bhp. Remarkably, the Pacey-Hassan was employed as a safety car at the Benjafield’s Racing Club’s 24 hour race in Portimao. The mind boggles!
More recently the car was seen at the Brooklands Double Twelve event where original Brooklands cars were reunited to officially reopen to start finishing straight which had been hidden since 1939.
Medcalf has competed in and won the likes of the Peking to Paris, The Flying Scotsman rally and raced in the Benjafield’s 24, Le Mans Classic and many more around the globe, and will use that knowledge to make his first Festival of Speed run as spectacular as possible for spectators.
William Medcalf commented: “This is my first Festival of Speed drive and I am looking forward to it immensely. The Pacey-Hassan is a bit of an animal with lots of torque. It looks to be a very narrow course of quite a polished tarmac with lots of different cambers going on. Finding grip in the wet could be an issue but I’m sure we can please the spectators with some sideways action and lots of noise. I’m sure spectators young and old will enjoy seeing the car being driven hard.
“It will be an honour to fire up the Pacey-Hassan in the grounds of the Lord March estate and to demonstrate that the car is every bit as good today as it was 81 years ago at the most celebrated speed event in the world.”
The Pacey-Hassan will compete in Pre War Cars and Bikes sessions (batch 1, Class 2) as part of a timed run.
Hill runs will take place:
Friday: 08.30, 13.10
Saturday: 09.20, 16.20
Sunday: 09.15, 18.00