1930 Pilan Le Mans Chassagne Birkin Kensington

The Bentley years 1928-1930:

By the time Jean Chassagne joined the ranks of the ‘Bentley boys’ (age 47), Bentley’s reputation in endurance racing was unequalled and his successes in Le Mans legendry. It is therefore interesting to contemplate the implication of this union between Chassagne the old racing master with his erstwhile competitors. That Chassagne was not ‘passed it’ was made abundantly clear in the first Le Mans he took part in for Bentley sharing a car with another racing legend Henry Tim Birkin. The fifth overall achieved whilst no doubt respectable tells little of the heroic performance Chassagne exhibited in this race, which to a very large extent exemplify the man. Birkin having suffered a rim collapse at Arnage abandoned the car which was not equipped with a jack and returned to the pits where “Old Chassagne” took two jacks under his arms famously commenting “Maintenant, c’est a moi” “he ran the 3 miles to the ditched Benetley, jacked the car up, changed the wheel and drove on”. W. O. Bentley awarded Chassagne with a silver Trophy in recognition of this extraordinary fit

In 1929 Le Mans Chassagne was sharing a Bentley with Francis Clement; the Bentley team holding virtually from the beginning the first four positions. Back with a Ballot at the Grand Prix Chassagne retired with a mechanical problem.

W. O. Bentley was against supercharging his 4.5 – litre cars and it was left to Henry Tim Birkin sponsored by the Hon. Dorothy Paget to initiate the construction of a team of Blower Bentleys designed by Amherst Villiers and built at the Birkin’s Works, Welwyn Garden City. At the 1930 Brooklands Double Twelve Chassagne shared Birkin’s favourite Blower Bentley but the Mechan’s frame broke and the car retired. Again sharing a car with Birkin at the Le Mans Grand Prix d’Endurance, the car put up the fastest lap at 89.69mph overtaking Caracciola at nearly 120mph but retired on lap 138 with a broken valve. The Bentley Works Team was retired but the Birkin Blowers were entered in the 1930 Phoenix Park Irish Grand Prix where they had a close race with the Mercedes 7 litre supercharged; Chasssagne car suffered from lubrication problem. This was to be his last recorded race.