July 27, 1948 – Bentley Boy Woolf Barnato dies

On this day in 1948 British auto racer “Bentley Boy” Woolf Barnato passed away at the age of 52.  Barnato began his racing career in 1921, just two years after Bentley was founded, when he imported a Locomobile from the US to race at the Brooklands Easter meeting. Not long after he was given the chance to drive a prototype Bentley 3 liter, and he became hooked on the brand. His love of Bentley led to him heavily investing in the company, a move that would save the company. 

Using a large inheritance he purchased a controlling share of the struggling Bentley Motors in the mid 1920s, saving it from bankruptcy. It would be from behind the wheel of a Bentley that Barnato would win the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times, in 1928, 1929 and 1930. These victories helped to secure the future of the company. Also in 1930, he drove a Bentley in the Blue Train Races from Cannes, France to London, England – and won – as part of a bet made with friends at a bar.

Illustration of the Blue Train Bentley

From 1940 to 1945, Banato served as a Wing-Commander with the Royal Air Force, responsible for the protection of aircraft factories against Nazi Luftwaffe bombing raids. He passed away in 1948 following complications with a surgery related to cancer. He was buried at St Jude’s Church in Englefield Green, Surrey.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Close Menu

If you enjoy This Day in Automotive History, please consider making a fast and secure PayPal donation. Thank you for visiting!