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The eldest son of a Russian-born pearl dealer and Australian mother, Bernard Rubin was largely brought up in the land of his birth but holidayed in London. His father was hardly able to speak English when he first arrived in Australia and was a self-made man. By the time he died in 1919 he had amassed a considerable fortune.
World War I
The family moved permanently to England in 1908 and Rubin completed his education at University College London. He served in the artillery during World War I and was severely wounded in France. Unable to walk for three years, he recovered and became interested in motor racing thanks to his friendship with next-door neighbour Woolf Barnato.
Le Mans winner in his second motor race
Rubin first raced at Brooklands in 1928 when the Bentley he shared with J.D.Benjafield finished sixth in a six-hour race. That was the sum total of his previous experience when Rubin entered the 1928 Le Mans 24 Hours as Barnato’s co-driver. They drove the car to the point of mechanical failure in a duel with the Stutz of Edouard Brisson and Robert Bloch. The Bentley held together just long enough for the debutants to win by just eight miles. Surely no one has won Le Mans with less experience than Rubin?
He was in the Bentley team a year later when sharing with Earl Howe although they retired from his second and final Le Mans. Rubin then crashed on the opening lap of the Tourist Trophy and was lucky to escape serious injury when his car overturned. He only raced occasionally thereafter – sharing a MG K3 on the 1933 Mille Miglia with Tim Birkin.
Grand prix entrant
Birkin and Rubin bought an eight-cylinder GP Maserati that year and Birkin was first to race the car in the Tripoli GP. He finished in a fine third behind Achille Varzi and Tazio Nuvolari. However, Birkin had burnt his arm during a pitstop and he died of septicaemia some weeks later.
Rubin’s interest was increasingly consumed by flight and he entered a De Havilland Comet in the London to Melbourne Centenary Air Race in October 1934 only for illness to prevent his participation. He married in 1935 and settled down in the Old Cloth Hall in Cranbrook, Kent but died of pulmonary tuberculosis after surgery just 15 months later.