In a grand tribute to the centenary celebrations of the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, Bentley marked its presence with the return of the iconic 2003 Speed 8 race car.
The Speed 8, a legendary symbol of the modern Bentley era, took part in a dynamic demonstration that enthralled fans and enthusiasts. This special appearance served as a prelude to the upcoming participation of a new Works Bentley at Le Mans, featuring a pair of Blower Continuation Series cars set to compete in this year’s Le Mans Classic.
The Triumphant Return of Speed 8 Chassis 004/5
A momentous occasion unfolded as Speed 8 chassis 004/5, the very car that claimed victory in 2003, made its triumphant return to the track during a centenary parade. Guided by Guy Smith, the driver who secured the chequered flag two decades ago, the car gracefully rolled its wheels on the circuit once again. It was a nostalgic moment for fans and a testament to the enduring legacy of the Speed 8.
Works Bentley Returns to Le Mans Classic
The forthcoming Le Mans Classic will witness the return of a Works Bentley to the iconic race for the first time since the historic victory in 2003. The Grid 1 race will feature a pair of Blower Continuation Series cars.
Both a factory-owned Blower Car Zero and a customer car will take part, with the former leveraging its recent debut test race at Donington Park in the UK. These entries mark not only Bentley’s official return to Le Mans racing since 2003 but also the revival of a Works-supported Blower’s presence on the track, harkening back to its inception in 1930.
“This car delivered Bentley’s first Le Mans victory since 1930, and became the springboard for my racing career, and so it’s incredibly special to me. While I’ve driven it a couple of times since 2003, this is the first time it’s been back to Le Mans and driving it here brought back so many memories and emotions. It feels exactly the same as it did when it crossed the line twenty years ago. Bentley is part of Le Mans, and Le Mans is part of Bentley, and it’s been an amazing weekend of celebrations of 100 years of history here.”Guy Smith
Rejuvenation of Bentley’s Heritage Collection
As part of an extensive effort to revitalize Bentley’s Heritage Collection, Speed 8 004/5 recently underwent a comprehensive rebuild, meticulously restoring it to its original, pristine condition prior to its historic victory. This remarkable vehicle is one of eight cherished motorsport treasures within the Heritage Collection, all meticulously maintained in working order. Alongside these, the fleet boasts 37 road-going counterparts, each set to become road legal by the year’s end.
Speed 8 Takes Centre Stage
For the remainder of June, the revered Speed 8 will take up residence at the Le Mans Museum, captivating visitors with its awe-inspiring presence. It will remain on display until the commencement of Le Mans Classic at the end of the month.
Bentley enthusiasts can look forward to a remarkable exhibition at Le Mans, where the Speed 8 will be showcased alongside the race program. Furthermore, this summer, the Speed 8 will make several dynamic appearances, captivating audiences before finally returning to Crewe.
There, it will proudly stand alongside its sister cars from 2001 and 2002, as well as the entirety of Bentley’s esteemed Heritage Collection. These cherished vehicles will be housed in three purpose-built areas, perfectly integrating them into any visit to Bentley’s campus.
The return of Bentley’s iconic Speed 8 to Le Mans for the centenary celebrations showcases the brand’s enduring legacy and commitment to motorsport excellence. From the triumphant demonstration of the 2003 race-winning Speed 8 to the eagerly anticipated participation of Blower Continuation Series cars in the upcoming Le Mans Classic, Bentley continues to captivate racing enthusiasts worldwide. With a rejuvenated Heritage Collection and an unwavering dedication to preserving the brand’s heritage, Bentley ensures its place as a true legend in the realm of motorsport.