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.
Oh 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.
Here 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 After 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. “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.Track 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 inherent. All 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. And 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 Here 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.All 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 limits. I’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.
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.