Idris Elba is an actor with many talents, one of which is apparently driving really fast. The British actor has just broken the “Flying Mile” land speed record for Pendine Sands, Whales in the UK. Elba piloted a 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed up to 180.361mph to break the previous record of 174.8mph set by Sir Malcolm Campbell and his Napier-Campbell Blue Bird in 1927. The record was broken as part of an upcoming four-part Discovery Channel series called Idris Elba: No Limits.

When Sir Malcolm set his record in 1927, it was also the world land speed record, but with that record now well over 700mph, Elba didn’t quite manage to break it as well. Neither did he break the UK land speed record, which is over 300mph. What he broke was the Pendine Sands Flying Mile record, and before you go thinking that this isn’t much of an accomplishment, keep in mind how difficult it is to keep a car under control at 180mph on very wet sand. We must also commend Elba for breaking the record so stylishly, behind the wheel of a 616-horsepower Bentley.

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Why it matters

Idris Elba is already famous for such roles as Stringer Bell in The Wire, the eponymous Luther on the BBC show of that name, and Nelson Mandela. That’s an impressive list of roles in which he gave impressive performances, but it will be interesting to see if he starts getting more of the kind of roles which would have gone to Steve McQueen in the past. Elba has already acted as a brand ambassador for Jaguar in the recent past, and it would be great to see him doing more car-centric projects.

It should also be noted that, while Campbell made his record run in a car built specifically for that purpose, Idris Elba used a stock Continental GT Speed, which is admittedly quite an impressive vehicle. The car is big but will hit 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, thanks to an eight-speed automatic transmission and a suspension setup designed much more for fast driving than that of the stock GT. On the subject of the record run, Elba said: “I’m absolutely elated to have broken the ’Flying Mile’ at Pendine Sands. It’s an honour to have taken on the challenge, and to successfully follow in the footsteps of the illustrious Sir Malcolm Campbell.”

2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed

2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed High Resolution Exterior
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Press Release

Idris Elba, star of Luther and The Wire, piloted a Bentley to break the historic ‘Flying Mile’ UK land speed record set by Sir Malcolm Campbell in 1927.

Idris Elba Breaks Historic 'Flying Mile' Record In Bentley Continental GT Speed High Resolution Exterior
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The award-winning actor hit a top speed of 180.361 mph at the wheel of a new Continental GT Speed on Pendine Sands, Wales. This broke the existing record of 174.8 mph set by Sir Malcolm nearly 90 years ago in his legendary Napier-Campbell Blue Bird. The record was independently verified by the UK Timing Association.

Elba, who famously played Nelson Mandela in the multi-award winning Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, said: “I’m absolutely elated to have broken the ’Flying Mile’ at Pendine Sands. It’s an honour to have taken on the challenge, and to successfully follow in the footsteps of the illustrious Sir Malcolm Campbell.”

Despite some challenging tidal conditions on the beach in south Wales, the record was broken in the Crewe-built Continental during filming for an upcoming four-part Discovery Channel series, Idris Elba: No Limits, which will air in July.

Bentley Continental GT Speed

Powered by Bentley’s iconic 6-litre twin-turbo W12 engine, the GT Speed develops 635 PS and 820 Nm for instantly accessible high performance. Coupled with a new ZF eight-speed close-ratio automatic transmission and state-of-the-art engine management software, the GT Speed despatches the zero-to-sixty sprint in 4.0 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.2s), on its way to a top speed of 331 km/h (206 mph).

In the Bentley Speed tradition, outstanding performance is matched by an enhanced chassis with up-rated springs, anti-roll bars and bushes, a lowered ride height (by 10mm front and rear) together with re-tuning of the electronically controlled damping and steering systems.

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