Idris Elba breaks an 88-year-old speed record in a production Bentley


Idris Elba has broken the 88-year-old “flying mile” speed record at Wales’ Pendine Sands, a seven-mile stretch of beach that was used in the early decades of the 20th century as a place to run two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles at top speeds.

And he did it in a Bentley.

Nope, no rocket car here: The actor averaged 180.36 over the course of a mile in a Continental GT Speed, busting automotive journalist Malcolm Campbell’s 174.8 mph record set in 1927. And Campbell was in a race car at the time, not a two-door, 626-hp coupe without modifications.

This particular type of mile is measured after a car gets up to speed and is run twice in the space of an hour, in opposite directions on the course, to account for wind. Pendine is known for its tightly packed sand, and is still used for motor-sports events.


The feat was attempted as part of an upcoming four-part Discovery Channel series, “Idris Elba: No Limits,” in which the car aficionado will take on different competitive speed challenges, the network said.

Elba’s top speed was 186.4 mph. For comparison, the U.S. top-speed record for a production car -- albeit a specialty one bringing 1244 hp -- was set in February 2014, according to Jalopnik, in a Hennessey Venom GT that hit 270.49 mph on NASA’s track at Kennedy Space Center. That wasn’t a speed maintained for a mile, though -- they had to stop because they ran out of room on the track.

The general term “land speed record,” however, is something quite different. A vehicle powered by jet engines has held that title since 1997, according to Guinness World Records, after British driver Andry Green got the Thrust SSC moving faster than 763 mph in Nevada. Technically, the Thrust SSC is a “car” -- but not even Elba is likely to be driving that baby to a red-carpet premiere any time soon.

The 42-year-old star of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” isn’t new to the world of shows about cool car stuff: He previously hosted “Idris Elba: King of Speed,” a three-part docu-series that aired last year on the BBC.

Of course, pulling off a stunt like the Flying Mile record is right in line with talk that Elba might be cast as the new James Bond. But the actor has said it’s truly just a rumor -- one he blames on Daniel Craig.

“About four years ago he said Idris Elba would be a great Bond and then it started to creep,” he told the Hollywood Reporter last month. No meetings were ever held, Elba said, and with the story taking on a life of its own, “If there was ever any chance of me getting Bond, it’s gone.”

Now, if anyone wants to attempt to beat Elba’s record, there’s a high price to entry, in addition to getting permission to run on the Pendine Flats. The price for this particular Bentley starts at $234,400.

It does, however, get 21 mpg highway.

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