Updated: Mar 9, 2022
This Bentley Le Mans 1928 poster celebrates the sixth Grand Prix d’Endurance over the Sarthe circuit at LeMans.
The 1928 race was won by a 4½ litre Bentley, driven by Woolf Barnato and Australian-born co-driver Bernard Rubin. The pair covered 1,658 miles at a record average speed for the course of 69.11 m.p.h. As a result Bentley gained back-to-back victories, after their triumph at the 1927 event. And it 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.
Millionaire Woolf Barnato began to dabble in motor sport in 1920, alongside his many sporting interests. Then he bought the company in 1926 having become seriously impressed with his three-litre Bentley. After paying off the Bentley’s debts, he invested cash to develop more powerful machines. Now W. O. Bentley, the founder and previous owner, 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 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 intended to draw a new Bentley LeMans poster for some time. That is 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 mellow 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.