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A Girl, A Bentley And A Racetrack


Being literal to the nth degree, the title hardly does this post of supercar lust, justice.  It should read Lisa and Every Model of Bentley in the current line-up.  From the sleek and throaty sportscar tuned Continental GT V8 to the epitome of mass elegance, the 18’3″ long Mulsanne, as a guest of Bentley Motors, I drove them all, at speed, at Palm Beach International Raceway on one bright and windy Saturday morning.
Bentley Track DayOh and in case this doesn’t illicit an ounce of envy yet…  There were also a few hot laps with five time Le Mans winner and member of motorsport royalty, Derek Bell.  Pinch me, again please.

Bentley CGT V8Bentley Continental GT Convertible W12Bentley CGT SpeedBentley Flying SpurBentley MulsanneHere is my story as one of 24 drivers for the morning session of a Bentley Motors Track Day, though it might sound a bit more like a love letter to Bentley Motors, either way it was a heck of a lot of fun.

Rules First  Bentley Track Day at PBIRAfter the Bentley driving instructors introduced themselves, all with years of racing experience, a quick overview of rules and safety issues held everyone’s attention.

Speed requires judicious control which equates to a much different hand and seat position than crusing the boulevard.  Let me put it into perspective, the control surface of your X-thousand pound car is a only few inches spread across four tires where they meet the pavement… not a lot.  Add extreme speed to the mix and there is no time for less than attentive posture, a lazy grip or reaching. Jon DiVaio Bentley Motors USA“One thing at a time: brake, steer, gas.”  Remember this in your daily driving too.

Racetrack: Bentley Continental GT V8, GT W12 and GT Speed 

A car is an engineering success when it drives as an extension of your mind,  you think, it goes.  Push the pedal and the response is immediate while your mind is completely transformed from being in a luxurious well appointed production car to a race car.  Once you’ve driven one, you’ll know there is nothing timid about a Bentley.Bentley Continental GT Speed & W12Track driving is a combination of skill, ability and being able to effortlessly dance between precise thought and quieting the mind.  While instructors fed personal encouragement and instruction from the right seat, “put the pedal all the way to the floor” in the straights, each car allowed the driver to perform safely beyond their normal comfort zone.  Driving a Bentley provides a confidence beyond one’s skills.  

Ponder this for a moment, these guys (instructors) are putting their lives in the hands of people they don’t even know, some who’ve never been on a racetrack before.  They know nothing about a driver’s skills yet they confidently encourage us to push it.  

When driving a Bentley, a feeling washes over your entire being, trust is inherentBentley Motors at PBIRAll of my track time has been in Porsches, so being behind the wheel of a massive front engine luxury car surprisingly felt no less nimble.  Even the required hard breaking proved precise and adept, no wavy rear action transitioning from a straight to a sharp turn.  Bentley knows how to design track worthy performance into a luxury automobile.  No wonder Bentley is making a return to competition motorsports.

Another testament to the Bentley was none of my typical over-thinking happened once strapped in, no hesitation, no wondering, no fear… just pure focus.  How fast did I go?  Confidently over 100 in complete comfort.  

Drag Strip: Rapid Acceleration 

Oh yes we took the Bentleys on the drag strip.  Why bother with 0-60 mph when 0-100 mph is an option?  The GTC W12 took off like a rocket.  Drag strip with Bentley MulsanneAnd the 5,976 lb Mulsanne, yes we drove this sovereign sleigh down the strip, also like a rocket though a more burly example.

I’m sorry to report, the cars were too luxurious and stable to to allow any feelings of your life flashing in front of you.  But his was the point wasn’t it?  Strength does not require compromise to achieve performance in a Bentley.  

Skid Pad:  The New Flying Spur Bentley Flying SpurHere was our scenario amidst an artful arrangement of orange cones: get this handsome sedan going as fast as possible in a straight line, then make a sharp left (steer) to avoid the imaginary brick wall or child running out in front of you.  

Remember those earlier instructions, steer, not brake and steer at the same time.   Not a gentle steer either, crank that wheel, hard.  First time with the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system off, next with it on.

At first amongst most drivers the intimidation factor rides shotgun, male or female, it happens.  Try it again, no fear and no worries.  The car can handle it and you safely.  No spinning, jerking, rolling, loss of control or need for over correction – the car does it.  The ESC system compensates for driver input to make sure the driver gets what the driver needs to maintain stable control of the vehicle.  Whispers were heard amongst the other drivers renaming it the “save your ass system” or more affectionately, the nanny.BENTLEY MOTORS PBIRAll in all it was one of the best times we’ve had at a track event.  Every car exceeded expectations, nobody wanted to leave.  With the added surprise of Derek Bell,  we had an unforgettable day.

We had no limits because a Bentley has no limitsJon DiVaio and Lisa SmithI’m going to save the driving with Derek Bell part of the story until February.  Driving with this world renown rockstar of motor racing, is too good not to offer it as its own post.

Thank you to Bentley Motors and their whole crew, but lets also thank those wonderful engineers and craftsmen and women at Crewe, who build a spectacular automobile.  I’ve come away with an unbending affirmation of my new motto: Once You Go Bentley, You NEVER Go Back.

XOXO!

Lisa

Our participation in this driving event was courtesy of Bentley Motors. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting these sponsors that allow us to create new and special content like this for Decor Girl Media.

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10 Responses to A Girl, A Bentley And A Racetrack

  1. Thanks Honey! Can’t wait to go again. XOXO

  2. Oh. My. That’s a pretty race car driver. Were there cars on the track too? I kid. Your post makes me want to make lots of fast left turns in a fabulous car. If experiences are life’s Ace of Cards, the Bentley school looks like a full deck!

  3. Oh yes, not a full track but we went out pretty evenly spaced, to give everyone room to move. Derek Bell was the only one allowed to pass, not that anyone else needed to. 🙂

  4. Great pics. So… Have you gotten a lot if tickets in your car? Seems like it would be tempting to try out what you learned on the hwy.

  5. TYSM! Actually the beauty of driving on the track, is you get your speed and aggressive driving needs out in a safe environment. No need to do it on the road. The more instruction and performance seat time I get, it makes me more careful on the highway… most people have very little training and knowledge about driving a car. 🙂

  6. The thing I really like about you Decor Girl is that you take this great gift we call life and run with it all the way.

    You are a fabulous role model to all people wanting to follow their dreams. You open the door of opportunity and it rewards you with incredible experiences that inspire others to not be shy about grabbing hold of the positive things life has to offers.

    I look forward to your next adventure

    Linda Cole

  7. Wow, thank you Linda, how very kind of you. I just try to be an honest person, treat people fairly, do the right thing and point out what appears to me as obvious on occasion. We have a big beautiful world with so many things to offer, I love being a sponge and am happy others find delight in what I find interesting. 🙂

    Lisa

  8. Oh wow – you lucky girl! I LOVE Bentleys – I have a ’51 Bentley with the steering wheel on the rightthat is sitting in my parents’ driveway, and that they have enlisted me to sell, but it’s nowhere as cool or fast, nor does it have the stability as these do.

    How much over 100 did you actually get? I guess I’m a wimp – 95 MPH and I start wigging out! I can’t even imagine going over 100, but in a Bentley it’s probably so smooth that you don’t even notice the speed. A couple of months ago I went for a joyride in the RR Wraith, and it seriously was like butter.

    You are right, once you go Bentley you never go back…unless like me, you don’t have a choice! One can only dream – thanks for letting me live vicariously through you, even if it is only for a moment!

  9. Ohh, you must email me pics! Gotta love a vintage Bentley.

    Honestly Jeanne, I was taught by one my instructors not to take a detailed look at the speedo while driving at speed. Keep the the eyes where they need to be and all. Smooth was not as relevant as stable and capable. Not that it wasn’t smooth, even with the suspension in track (non-gushy) mode. They are cars which challenge you in the right way, but provide for you beyond your capabilities. A Bentley is a very trustworthy car which just happens to be as beautiful on the inside and out as the mechanical genius under the hood. Yep, I’m still glowing. 🙂

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