Bentley 1928 Le Mans Poster

Bentley 1928 Le Mans poster
This Bentley 1928 Le Mans poster celebrates team Bentley’s second Le Mans 24 hours victory, and the first of three consecutive victories for Woolf Barnato.

 

Rubin_Barnato

 

Bernard Rubin (left) and Woolf Barnato, after the race.

The sixth Grand Prix d’Endurance over the Sarthe circuit at Le Mans was won by a 4 ½ litre Bentley, driven by Woolf Barnato and Australian-born co-driver Bernard Rubin, covering 1,658 miles at a record average speed for the course of 69.11 m.p.h. This gave Bentley back-to-back victories, after their triumph at the 1927 event, and was the first of a trio of consecutive successes for Bentley owner/driver Woolf Barnato.

The race produced a thrilling Anglo-American duel as Bentley were challenged by the eight-cylinder Stutz, driven by Édouard Brisson and Robert Bloch. But despite trading positions constantly through the night, the Bentley crossed the finish line six laps ahead of the Stutz, who averaged 66.42 m.p.h. But it was touch-and-go for both cars; the Bentley suffering from radiator leaks and overheating, and the Stutz losing its gears.

barnato_rubin_bentley_1928_le_mans

 

Woolf Barnato’s Bentley ahead of Édouard Brisson’s Stutz.

Millionaire Woolf Barnato began to dabble in motor sport, alongside his many sporting interests, in 1920 and having become seriously impressed with his three-litre Bentley, he bought the company in 1926. After paying off its debts, he invested cash to develop more powerful machines, and W. O. Bentley found himself with sufficient funding to design and engineer a new generation of cars.

His enthusiasm for the marque and love of fast driving continued until he was obliged to announce, in July 1931, that he could no longer support the company and a receiver was called in. The Great Depression had hit the sales of high-end automobiles, and so, in a sealed bid of £125,000, Rolls-Royce took over the company, and their racing days were over.

I have been intending to draw a new Bentley Le Mans poster for some time, mostly because I find the brief racing life of the company and the fantastically romantic lives of their drivers so compelling.

I began drawing the car several months ago, with no particular idea as to the final design of the poster. But I did want to create a follow-up to the 1930 Bentley Le Mans poster I have linked below. Then I decided to place the car in a dawn setting, to further emphasise the gruelling 24 hour aspect of the event. Plus, I find the colours in this poster rather lovely.

For the text, I turned to a type style I have been working on for a year or more. This new hand drawn font is my own original design, and one that I intend to develop further.

You can view this poster HERE

You might also like to see the Bentley 1930 Le Mans poster HERE

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment

Name *

Website

 

 

 

Geo Ham, The Prince of Speed.

Geo Ham, The Prince of Speed. George Hamel, better known as Geo Ham, was one of the most well known and best loved of the poster illustrators between the wars, and an enormous influence on my own work. His Monaco posters from the thirties and forties are probably his best known work, and are still among the most popular of the reproduction vintage motor racing poster market. Original prints of these posters sell through major auction houses and fetch prices of tens of thousands of pounds. The image featured above for the 1934 Monaco Grand Prix told the viewer everything they need to know at a glance: the simple, well designed text gave the event and date, and the illustration showed the sun blushed elegance of the Grand Casino, the tranquillity of the Mediterranean and the dynamic, thundering power and speed of the approaching racing cars. Thrilling.

Hamel was born in the medieval French town of Laval, in the Loire Valley, on 18 September 1900. His passion for speed probably began when he was eleven years old and he witnessed an aeroplane landing close to the town. Then just two years later he saw a race organized for cars and motorcycles in Laval, and he was hooked for life. At the age of eighteen George Hamel moved to Paris and attended the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs, and two years later he had an illustration published on the front cover of the car magazine ‘Omnia’ which he signed with his new pseudonym Geo Ham.

He began getting his illustrations and fine art published on a regular basis by 1923, particularly in the magazine L’Illustration, and by the 1930s was already established as the finest in his field. He was also a prolific book illustrator and worked as a press reporter on motor racing events and aeronautic displays. Geo Ham was commissioned to create the now iconic Art Deco paintings, prints and posters for the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and many other prestigious European Races. A highlight of his life was competing in the 1934 Le Mans race in a 2 litre Derby L8, and although fuel problems forced his withdrawal, the experience only added to his passion for racing art.

Geo Ham continued to illustrate cars, planes and motorcycles well into the early 1960s. But by this time photography began to replace painting as the illustration of choice among advertisers and publishers, and gradually the name of Geo Ham “The Prince of Speed” became forgotten.

He died in June 1972, and only twelve people attended his funeral.

His influence on my own work can be clearly seen in the Alfa Romeo Le Mans poster here, the Ferrari Mille Miglia here, the Bentley Le Mans poster here, and The Bugatti Type 51 Monaco poster here.

1930 Le Mans and the fabulous Bentley Boys.

The Le Mans race of 1930 was Bentley’s fourth successive win, and the last in which the company would compete. After catastrophic financial losses following the 1929 Wall Street crash, and the subsequent collapse in the luxury car market, Bentley pulled out of competitive motor racing and under the burden of increasing company debts, sold out to Rolls Royce in 1931. But their brief racing history had been a glorious one.

In the 1930 event Woolf Barnato was seeking his third successive win in three starts, (he remains the only driver with a 100% record of wins to starts at Le Mans) this time partnered by Glen Kidston. These men, two of the most notorious of the Bentley Boys, were most remarkable characters. Prodigiously wealthy Barnato was the heir to a fortune gained in the Kimberly diamond mines in South Africa, and an all round sportsman, excelling in just about every sport that took his interest. He won prizes in power-boat racing, was a keen amateur boxer, horseman, athlete and even kept wicket for Surrey cricket club. The 24-hour champagne fuelled parties that he hosted at his country house in Surrey became legendary.

But fast driving at the wheel of a Bentley was his real joy. On one occasion in March 1930 he accepted a bet to race the famous Blue Train from Cannes to Calais, but upped the stakes by saying that he could reach his London club before the train arrived at Calais. Setting off from the bar of The Carlton Hotel at 6pm he arrived at the port of Boulogne in time for the 11.30am sailing to Folkstone and reached The Conservative Club in St James’s at around 3.30pm, 4 minutes before the train arrived at Calais, winning his bet.

Glen Kidston was possibly even wealthier than Barnato, his riches coming from shipping and banking, and was a born adventurer, narrowly escaping death on several occasions, including motor boat and motor cycle crashes. As a naval officer in the First World War he survived being torpedoed three times, and as a submariner survived running his vessel aground in the North Sea. In 1929 he was the sole survivor when a commercial airliner crashed en route from Croydon to Amsterdam, suffering severe burns. In April 1931 Kidston set off on a record breaking solo flight from Netheravon airfield in Wiltshire to Capetown, South Africa, completing the journey in just 6½ days in his own specially adapted Lockheed Vega monoplane, averaging 131 mph. However, his luck ran out on the return trip when, only a year after his Le Mans triumph, his borrowed de Havilland Puss Moth broke up in mid-air while flying through a dust storm over the Drakensberg mountains, and Glen Kidston was killed.

These two daredevil romantic heroes lived sadly short lives, but packed into those years adventures that us mere mortals can only dream of. Oh, and did I mention that they were both dashingly handsome?

You can find further details of this poster here, and please take a few seconds to share this page with your friends on your chosen social network. Thank you.

Alfa Romeo Le Mans poster

I’ve been trying for some considerable time to incorporate one of the beautiful Monet compositions of poplars on the River Epte, painted while he was living at Giverny, into one of my posters. The particular painting I’ve shown here, part of a series that was painted through the summer of 1891, I love to see quite regularly at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, an hour or two from where I live in suffolk. I love the majestic sweep of the trees that suggests such elegant motion.

But after many false starts I finally found the composition that worked. This very dynamic image of the fabulous 1931 Alfa Romeo eight cylinder 2300 dropped straight into my drawing of the trees like a dream. This car seems to have won just about every race it entered, and the Alfa Romeo team was able to call on the very best drivers of the time, much like Ferrari can now. Here I feature this magnificent beast winning the 1931 Le Mans 24 hour race, beating the mighty 7 litre Mercedes-Benz SSK designed by Ferdinand Porsche into second place, with the very successful driving pair of Lord Howe and Henry Birkin of Great Britain behind the wheel. The two “Bentley Boys”, who had turned to Alfas after Bentley ceased racing, went on to achieve even more success with Enzo Ferrari’s team at Alfa.

I’m sure that many purists will argue that this is not an accurate representation of the Le Mans circuit, and they would be correct, but I tend to be a bit more dieselpunk in my approach to the composition of a piece of graphic design, and prefer that it be elegant, dynamic and visually pleasing rather than historically precise. I’m looking for a composition that will grace the most modern apartment as well as an automobile enthusiast’s garage.

For further information on this poster, and indeed the rest of my collection, please visit my website here.