6/8/1887 - 20/1/1957
Record updated 06-Aug-20
Doc Benjafield was a bacteriologist and motor racing enthusiast who won Le Mans in 1927 with fellow 'Bentley Boy' S.C.H. 'Sammy' Davis.
Joseph Dudley Benjafield, MD was born in Edmonton UK. He attended London University and received his MD from University College Hospital in 1912. Specializing in bacteriology, he served in Egypt during World War I and later used his expertise combating the great flu epidemic of 1919.
Benjafield had a passion for motor sports, which started with boating, but moved on to automobiles in the 1920s, following the accidental destruction of his beloved motor launch.
As a bacteriologist, Dr Benjafield was a close friend and adviser of Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin. He realised the seriousness of the burns that Tim sustained in the Grand Prix of Tripoli in 1933. Though sadly he was not able to prevent him succumbing to them.
Upon purchasing a Bentley 3, he started racing in 1924 and 1925. Benjafield's success led to him being offered to drive a company racer at the behest of Bentley founder W.O. Bentley. He competed in a 1927 24-hour race with co-driver and fellow "Bentley Boy" S. C. H. "Sammy" Davis; while their car was badly damaged, they frantically made on-the-spot repairs and wound up winning the race.
His home in Wimpole Street was close to that of Barnato, who had a separate house on the same row. London Taxi drivers knew this as “Bentley Corner”. Benjy held informal dinner parties there for the Bentley Boys, together with other enthusiasts who included the Duke of Kent, when the racing season was over, and it was during one of these evenings that the idea of the British Racing Drivers Club was formed. Benjafield became the first Treasurer of this Club, which now owns Silverstone and runs the British Grand Prix.
Benjafield continued racing until 1936. He died in 1957.