On Saturday, November 30, the 80th anniversary of a historic endurance race was recreated by members of the Benjafield’s Racing Club
Held in the sunny climate of the Circuito Ascari, Benjafield’s 500 2017 harked back to the famous pre-war Brooklands 500. Staged every year between 1929 and 1937 on the UK’s first permanent race circuit, the handicap event pitted all-comers against the incumbent field of Bentleys, which ruled the roost at the time. Divided into classes, contestants would then clock up 500 miles around Brooklands in the fastest time possible.
The Benjafield’s 500 of today follows the same format and thus attracts a diverse grid, including a 1931 Talbot 105 team car that actually competed in the original Brooklands 500 in 1931. Among other entries, it was joined by a 1932 Alvis Speed 20 SA and the famous ‘Number 10’ factory Bentley racer from 1925 driven by club founder Dr J. Dudley Benjafield in period.
Benjafield also established the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) in 1928 as a gathering of British racing drivers to welcome other wheelmen from overseas. The first event was a 500-mile race at Brooklands taking place in October 1929. Slower cars set off first, faster cars last, but all had to aim to complete 500 miles quicker than any of the other competitors hence it was dubbed ‘the fastest race of its kind the world has ever seen’.
‘While the spirit of the Benjafield’s Racing Club is deeply rooted in fun and friendship, the racing shows that no love is lost when a chequered flag is there for the taking,’ an event spokesperson confirmed. Eight hours of racing in the Spanish sun saw victory going to Robert Abrey and Julian Riley in the 6 ½ litre Bentley with second place going to Martin Overington and Eddie McGuire in the 1929 Bentley Blower and third to Matthew Abrey and Robert Fellowes in the 1925 Bentley 3 4 ½ litre.
Benjafield’s organiser Chris Lunn said: “Benjafield’s 500 is a fantastic re-enactment of a historic race that is as much a social event as it is a race. It’s about people coming together to celebrate an almost 80-year-old legacy all in the spirit of driving some of the greatest cars ever made. Benjafield’s Club events are notoriously good fun, as you might expect for a club where entry is strictly limited to those who have done something either very good or very bad.”