S.C.H. "Sammy" Davis

S.C.H. "Sammy" Davis

9/1/1887 - 9/1/1981

S.C.H. "Sammy Davis" was already a familiar figure at racing circuits and a seasoned driver when he was invited to partner Dudley "Benjy" Benjafield for the 1926 Le Mans race in Bentley No7. Caught out by rain and failing brakes that year he skidded the car into a sandbank. But he more than made up in 1927 when he again partnered Benjy in the same car, which Benjy had meanwhile bought from Bentley Motors and which was now referred to by its two drivers as "old No 7". The drivers gained the first Bentley Le Mans win in two years and the first of a run of four successive victories. The win has become legendary in the annals of 1920s motor-racing. At the end of the first lap the 4½ litre of was so far ahead, there was nothing else in sight. The race continued into the night, when the leading 4½ litre Bentley came fast through White House corner and hit a French Theophile Schneider. It was immediately followed into the ditch by the two 3 litre Bentleys and another French car. Against all odds, Sammy saved Old No7 (now No3) from terminal damage by slewing the car sideways into the wreckage of the other cars. The Davis/Benjafield car survived and managed to limp back to the pits, wheel buckled, frame bent, headlamp, wing and running board smashed. Lashing the car together with wire and string, it eventually restarted and gradually started gaining on the leading Aries. Old No7 was fourth after the crash but Davis pushed the car up to second and Benjafield then harried the leading Aries until with less than an hour to go, the Aries engine blew, and after 18½ hours of epic driving the Bentley took the flag to win the 1927 Le Mans. With typical modesty Benjafield had handed over the car to Davis for the final few victory laps. The press coverage was tremendous and The Autocar gave a huge dinner at the Savoy to celebrate, with the winning Bentley being driven in as surprise guest of honour. Sammy Davis went on to many more victories, achieving two BRDC Gold Stars for the outstanding British driver of 1929 and 1930 in international motor races.

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