Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blowers Not Just for Boys

No other car is so associated with men as the Blower Bentley. The phrase "Bentley Boys" is used in almost every mention of these cars. But is should be known that there was a female member of this boys club. A Mrs. Mary Victor Bruce.

Some highlights of hers include motorboat records for crossing the channel. And setting a record for lapping at Montlhery in a Blower Bentley and other auto records, mostly in ACs.

For more detailed history of Mrs. Victor Bruce. Check out this site.

And you should read more because any lady who says, "”Speed has always fascinated me since my first pony bolted. Going slowly always made me tired.” deserves a bit of respect.

In car and portrait image from Female Racing Drivers by Jean Francois Bouzanquet, cig card image from Flikr mando maniac.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fancy Yourself A Bentley Historian? is the web-based resource for tracking down your desired vintage Bentley.

I used it often while writing Hunt for the Blower Bentley. And visit it often for pure entertainment.

There you can search every W.O. Bentley by chassis number. Find reference materials. Get information on how to repair your early beast. Or even help others identify their own Bentley mysteries.

All in all, a fantastic enthusiast run site. And the place to start to see if you can do better than I or others in finding out what happened to supercharged Bentley SM 3912.

Another option is the Bentley Driver's club itself. Here you can contact the club historian and get all the info you need. Or want. Or that they have.

Happy car hunting.

Wings & Wheels Concours Photo Essay

I don't know my biplanes from my bombers or my trainers, but add a squadron of planes to a grouping of classics and you have a beautiful display.

This was held at Centennial Airport and was an event to benefit childhood brain cancers, an worthy cause for sure.

Enjoy the photos with prototype MGs, Vignale Cadillacs, Nashs, Gullwings and McLarens and more.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

944 Active Aero or Cheeky Wink?

There I am, leading the 944 national champ and my engine builder Dave Dirks, into the almost 90 degree left-hander at the end of High Plains Raceway's short straight. Or starting straight. The corner highlighted by the red circle in the above track map.

Now, I removed my headlight motors and armature, but left the wiring and bulbs in place in case ever needed. And, my car is already at legal minimum weight.

But I never did affix the headlights in place. But should I.

I always noticed both headlights popped up on hard braking. And finally got an image to prove it. This snap was taken by Mitchell Taylor, the son of a fellow racer, Chuck Taylor. Click the photo for a much larger image.

Gives the car a bit of McLaren style active aero on a shoestring budget.

That is how I like to think of it. Not that it is just winking at the corners with my dodgy bodywork.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blower Bentley Racing Prowess

I don't think I ever really get into the history of why Bentley developed a Blower in the first place. Not important to the story. Besides, the missing Blower SM 3912 was not fitted with a racing body. It had a two-seater Phillips drop head coupe body fitted. But, besides the point. Even in the '30s the consumer buyers of cars wanted to have as close to the racing version of a car as possible.

So, with that in mind, I've got a link to a bit of history on the characters who started the whole supercharged Bentley thing. Lots of it do with a Tim Birkin, who loved the Blown cars and used one to raise the Brooklands lap record to nearly 138MPH in 1932! Egads it must have been a ride going near to the top speed of a Porsche 944 in fancy tractor.

Check out the story at

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

SPEC 944 Race Video

Just finished up a long, hot, crowded and incredible weekend of racing at High Plains Raceway.

Yes, this writer actually races. Not many of us do.

I had a very good weekend for being rusty from not racing all season. But the car ran great even in 95-plus degree heat. Thanks to the mocal oil cooler.

My rustyness really showed up in qualifying where I was a second and a half off my race pace. In the races I consistently put in a top five lap time. But couldn't qualify in the top five. Ugh.

The video above shows me running in 4th, that is my green car, until 10:20 or so in the video where the sunglare had me miss my braking point at the end of the long straight. Things happen fast at 120MPH but luckily I was able to keep it straight but fell back to 7th. As one of my co-races put it, you had "6 wheels off at turn 4 and 5".

That was Saturday, on Sunday I had my best racing, moving up from 9th to finish 5th. And avoiding quite a bit of contact.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How Does a Blower Bentley Work

So, what made the Blower Bentley's so special? Well, the blower hung off the front which upped the horsepower, and halved the gas mileage.

No matter, here is a link to a video from the show Massive Engines which explains how the supercharged 4 1/2 litre Bentley worked. Love the sounds!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My New Faston Hanks Novel. Free Sample. We're Going After A Blower.

It's been 8 years since I wrote my first novel, Hunt for 901. I took some time off from writing books, but picked it up again 18 months ago when I found out about the perfect missing car to be the star of the new novel.

A missing Blower Bentley.

I'll tell more, but here are the links to pre-order it. Or, at the very least, do go ahead and 'like' it. It would mean a lot. Links for around the world:

Germany -
Japan -
UK -
Canada -
France -

There were 50 Blower Bentley's produced. That is a fact. Of which, 49 are accounted for. That doesn't mean 49 still exist as some were wrecked or rebuilt into other cars, but there was one. Serial number SM 3912 that was last heard of in 1939.

I've pulled many of my Bentley facts from the work of Michael Hay.

So, this new novel builds on the limited facts around SM 3912's previous owners and the modern day hunt for it.

With alternating chapters between WWII and the present day hunt by automotive archaeologist Faston Hanks, Hunt for the Blower Bentley is a page turning thriller.

If you like WWII history or novels, you'll like this book. If you like cars, I think you will love it.

I've listened to my readers and upped the pacing and left behind a lot, but not all, of Faston's love of food.

It is without a doubt, many, many times better a book than 901.

Hope you enjoyed the prologue.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mk Jaguar Differential Fluid Change. Stinky.

The 62 Jaguar was leaking fluid from the rear differential at a decent rate. Especially after a long run when the gear oil would get nice and warm.

I suspected, and still do, that the culprit was the drain plug.

So, with unknown oil in the diff, I set about draining and then filling it with new oil.

I choose valvoline 80/90 as it is ok'd for hypoid style gears, exactly the type of gears that the MK2 puts the power to the ground with.

It was not a bad job. Except for being careful not to strip the male-end soft-metal drain plugs. I used a new crescent wrench to get them off. When replacing I used a thread sealant, this has helped me stop pesky oil leaks in the past.

The filling is always a bit messy, but a 6-inch length of clear house made it a bit easier to get the fluid in.

How'd it work? Don't know. It is too hot in Denver to be driving that thing. Like wearing a wool suit with a leather vest is how it feels on summer days.

And, if anyone can explain why gear oil stinks like burnt hair mixed with old french fry oil, I would love to hear it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cars & Coffee Boulder / Lafayette, CO 8/6/11 From Electric to Elite

I chose to trailer up my race car and put a sign in to try and recruit some folks to join, or at least look in to, 944 SPEC racing. I saw a few laughs from the people who prefer to polish their cars, but no real serious interest.

The highlights to me at this gathering were the electric Beck Porsche Speedster. Usually I am a small fan of replicas. But, this to me has all the right things about a replica going on. Pure electric power in the light and stylish Speedster body. Well done.

The other highlight was the lovely Lotus Elite. Just take a gander at that narrowing roofline and tidy Coventry Climax. So delicate. So fragile. Like the lead actress in the Black Swan.

Oh, and I threw in the Pagoda Benz because they are often overlooked but make a very practical classic. And in maroon it is especially fetching.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Actually. It is Creepy. & This is 300th Post.

Actually, your van, sir, was not creepy. Until you went and put this message on the back. I caught this at a stoplight in Lakewood, CO.

And, I have a bit of a problem with the sentence anyway. The word 'just' is an unnecessary modifier. Better to say, "It's not creepy, it's European."

Finally, no van can be a 'creeper van' unless it is a windowless panel van. Geez.