Bentley’s Blower Continuation Series will compete in a handful of historic races in 2023.
Bentley is building 12 continuation cars based on the 1929 Blower that Sir Henry Ralph Stanley “Tim” Birkin made famous in the 1920s and 1930s by racing all over Europe, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Named after its supercharged 4.5-liter inline-4 engine, the Blower was never as successful as Bentley’s standard naturally aspirated cars, but it became an icon of the golden age of Bentley racing.
It’s only fitting, then, that a Blower will return to the track. Bentley plans to use for the track Car Zero, the prototype built ahead of the 12 customer cars for validation purposes, according to a company press release. The schedule includes a race at the U.K.’s Donington Park circuit April 29-30, followed by a June 29-July 3 outing at the Circuit de la Sarthe that hosts the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a race at Spa-Francorchamps Sept. 28-30.
The Le Mans historic race will mark the first appearance of a factory-backed Bentley entry since 2003, when the Speed 8 scored the brand’s last 24 Hours of Le Mans victory. Granted, historic racing is a bit different from a true factory racing program. Some of the customer cars, eight of which have been completed so far, are also expected to race there, according to Bentley.
To build its first Blowers in almost a century, Bentley scanned every last part of “Team Car #2,” otherwise known as chassis HB 3403, from its heritage collection, a car the automaker considers to be the most famous Bentley in the world. A digital model was created from those scans, and specialist firms were recruited to make new versions of the original parts. Assembly is being handled by Bentley’s Mulliner personalization division.
Blower Car Zero got some additional modifications for racing in the 21st century, including a rain light, external mirrors, towing points, a fire extinguisher, and a battery isolation switch. This qualified the car for a Historic Technical Passport, which makes it eligible for FIA-sanctioned historic races. Drivers will be a mix of professionals and journalists with racing experience, according to Bentley.
Car Zero recently completed a six-hour endurance test at Goodwood. Driver Stuart Morley guided it through 380 miles at an average speed of 83 mph. Bentley expects similar conditions in racing, which the automaker aims to use to prove the quality of its craftsmanship.
“By going racing with Blower Car Zero, we will prove the performance, authenticity, and durability of our Continuation Series by taking on the original competition,” Mulliner CTO Paul Williams said in a statement, “and give our customers confidence that they too can take their continuation cars to the track.”
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