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Racing is in our blood

Charlie Bennett served his apprenticeship first as a rivet boy, helping to build the first iron battleships down the Victoria and Albert dockland shipyards, then to the Canning town based Mansfield cycle company, frame building at the brazing hearth. Charlie Bennett built his first motorcycle at these barking road premises, around the year 1907, this machine was belt driven, single speed, and solely a track racer with Bailey dropped handlebars, saddle over the rear wheel, pad on the top frame tube for the riders chest. This racer was fitted with a French Buchet engine, bore and stroke square at 76 x 76 centimetres, overhead push rod operated inlet and exhaust valves, with coil ignition using a dry cell battery. On the Canning town banked racetrack in august 1907 this bike with Charlie Bennett riding it covered eight miles in nine minutes. It seemed this bike was ahead of its time. Charlie Bennett was noticed and fitted up with a 5/6 horsepower “Indian” from the American factory. He rode this in the Isle of Man and on Brook lands alongside other famous old riders, including Billy Wells, Bert Colver, Walter Bentley, the two Collier brothers, Harry Martin and Guy Lee Evans. - Winner of the 3 mile & 5 mile motorcycle races at Tunbridge Wells, August 1st 1904 on a 'Kerry' motor. - TT race 1910 at Brooklands, won by Charlie 'Wag' Bennett at average of 61mph - 1910 two cylinder Indian 70 by 83 cubic capacity, equals 638, 59 miles 870 yards. (British record)


Phantasm Ford Pop

Where it all began…Frank & Mick Bennett were spectating at another drag race at Santa Pod when walking the pits they saw a for sale sign on a Ford Pop named Mean Streak. A deal was done there and then and we’d bought our first race car. We took the car home and set to work giving it a quick overhaul and then first event out we won the event! Great feeling. The car originally ran a 350 cubic inch small block Chevy and we ran this for a few seasons until we down sized to a 302 cubic inch small block Chevy screamer, this gave us a better weight break advantage and enabled us to continue winning for years. In 1985/6 we spent the whole winter working on the pop and gave the car a 4-inch roof chop and also a 4-inch complete body chop and channel, the outcome was extremely low and more stable. We sold the car in 1987 to import a NHRA Top alcohol funny car from the USA.


The Early Fiat Topolino Years

Imported from the USA in 1987 as a legal NHRA methanol funny car, we spent a few years building the car up as we didn't buy the motor and since we used Small Block Chevy power in the Phantasm Pop the obvious choice was to go Big Block Chevy in what was to become a Fuel Altered. We then competed in Top Alcohol Championship, we did this for a good few years but due to our extremely limited budget we were never going to be a force in the class. We ran a standard iron 427 block, standard GM forged crank, iron heads and a supercharger which probably made about five pounds boost on a good day. Then in the mid 1990’s - we started to race in a new class, the Supercharged Outlaws, in which we had great success and really enjoyed every single event. Then in 2001 our crank of twelve years had enough and broke in the best possible way, everything out the bottom but thank god it didn't touch our new ally block. On that run we still managed a 7.400 at 99 mph so it was on a flyer.


Ford 23T Altered

Bought back in early 2004 by Luke Bennett as a complete car. We raced for one event as we bought it but then during the 2005 season totally rebuilt the car from the ground up. The outcome was a very different looking car. Racing for the 2006 season the car finished with a best E.T of 11.14 at 125mph. Power came from a Rover V8 with a manual gearbox, it made for very fast and wild launches but slowed the car down due to gear changes, but it was left as was a running car and we wanted the car out on track asap. During the season the car also won the Wild Bunch best altered, it was sold on at the end of the 2006 season as in February 2007 Luke Bennett bought his new car which is currently being built up.

Bennett Racing patriarch Lenny Bennett passed away on 12th March 2012 at the age of 86. He taught us all true engineering, getting every last ounce of horsepower from a part, repairing and not throwing away, making and not buying. Lenny will be remembered by racers and the like from years past, as he was the Crew Chief of the Phantasm Ford Pop which we very successfully raced in the 1980s. Also, of course, he was a father to five, grandad to fourteen and great grandad to seven. A truly great man, very dear to us all, who will be greatly missed. Without him, we wouldn’t race.

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