|The Gurney-Nutting coupe featured in this painting by Terence Cuneo |
was not the vehicle that won the famous race.
In March 12, 1930, a group of motoring enthusiasts was discussing the Rover motor car’s ad, claiming that its Light Six was faster than the famous express train Le Train Bleu. Captain Joel Woolf “Babe” Barnato, a well-known playboy millionaire, chairman of Bentley Motors and the winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1928 and 1929 boasted that he would have no difficulty outrunning Le Train Bleu in his Bentley Speed Six and bet £100 on his claim.
The next day Le Train Bleu left Cannes, for London’s Victoria Station, while Barnato and his relief driver left the Carlton Hotel in his Speed Six. Despite challenges along the route they arrived at the St. James Street Conservative Club four minutes before Le Train Bleu had even reached the ferry at Calais, France. Captain Barnato won his bet; however, the French authorities promptly fined him a sum far exceeding his winnings for racing on public roads. Bentley Motors was also excluded from the 1930 Paris Salon for conducting an unauthorized race.
A year ago a recreation of the Bentley "Blue Train" Speed Six went up for auction: