Bentley Marks Birkin’s Anniversary With Mille Miglia Run
In 1930, Bentley was a seriously dominant force in motorsports. The company had won most of the runnings of the 24 Hours of Le Mans up to that point, thanks in large part to the big “Bentley Blower” race cars. The cars packed big power from their supercharged engines, but were still very easy to control. So when Tim Birkin, fresh off his own Le Mans win in 1929, decided to take on Alfa Romeo’s dominance of the Mille Miglia, spirits were high at Bentley. It was believed that Birkin would easily win the thousand-mile endurance race, but a lack of “due preparation” meant that he never even started the race.
Now, 85 years later, it seems that the missed opportunity is still bothering a few people at Bentley, because Richard Charlesworth —Bentley’s Director of Royal and VIP Relations- will pilot a 1930, 4 ½-liter Bentley Blower at Mille Miglia over the course of 4 days. It’s not the same No. 2 “Birkin Blower” which failed to start the race in 1930, but it is a period-correct machine, easily verifiable as the most successful race car in the company’s history.
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Why it matters
The Mille Miglia is no longer the flat-out hardcore endurance race that it was from 1927 to 1957. It is now a classic car event which is still timed, but much less prone to fatal crashes. In order to participate, a car has to be the same model as one that participated in the original version of the race, with the 1930 Bentley 4 ½-liter Blower getting a pass because Birkin did technically qualify. It will (theoretically) be up against such prewar racing legends as the original Alfa Romeo 8C and the Bugatti Type 57C. It should be an impressive and incredibly valuable procession to watch.