The world’s world’s longest running motoring event - the London to Brighton Veteran car run - is on Sunday (November 5).
The event dates back more than 112 years and a bumper entry of more than 450 horseless carriages will leave Hyde Park as dawn breaks, ready to tackle the epic 60-mile drive from capital to coast, through various parts of Sussex.
The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, which dates back to 1927, was founded to commemorate the Emancipation Run of 1896, which celebrated the new-found freedom of motorists granted by the ‘repeal of the Red Flag Act.’
The Act raised the speed limit to 14mph and abolished the need for a man carrying a red flag to walk ahead of the cars whenever they were being driven.
The vehicles will be making their usual stop in Crawley (the Honda garage in London Road) but also travel through Handcross, Staplefield, Cuckfield and then down to Brighton, giving the public plenty of opportunity to watch them go by.
And the weather forecast is for dry but chilly conditions on Sunday.
Acknowledged as the longest running motoring event in the world, this year has a French theme in honour of the country’s contribution to motoring’s early days – in 1903, for example, France built 30,000 cars – more than half of the world’s total production in that year.
Fittingly, almost half of this year’s entry are of French-built cars, and include an 1893 Peugeot Type 14 – the oldest vehicle on the Run and the first car to have been driven on Italian roads.
Renault, like Peugeot, a name familiar to today’s motorists, was another of motoring’s pioneers. The company, a long-time supporter of the Run, has entered a recently restored Type C from 1900, while other French marques represented include De Dion Bouton, Mors, Bolide and even a patriotically-named Napoleon.
Celebrities taking part
Among the celebrities taking part this year are adventurer Charley Boorman, who will be driving a 1904 Rover 8hp from the British Motor Museum to promote men’s health during and ‘Movember’.
As in previous years, BBC presenters Chris Evans and Alex Jones will be following the run in a fleet of classic buses all carrying successful bidders who raised money for the BBC Children in Need charity.
Due to on-going road works in Brixton, this year’s Run will take a slightly different route out of London. After leaving Hyde Park, the veterans will drive down the Mall past Buckingham Palace, before heading down Horse Guards Parade on the way to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. It will then cross the Thames at Westminster Bridge before heading towards Stockwell, Clapham Common, Balham and Morden rather than Brixton and Croydon.
Upon leaving London, the run will take in Banstead, Tolworth and Reigate before re-joining the traditional route at Redhill. From here it heads to a spectator-friendly halfway halt at Crawley High Street.
Crawley High Street also marks an important stage on the Run as it’s the start of the Chopard Regularity Time Trial, the only competitive element of the event. Finishing 13 miles away in Burgess Hill, the Regularity Time Trail requires drivers to get as close to a chosen average speed as possible with a Chopard Mille Miglia Chronograph, worth £4,950, awaiting the Trial winner.
After Burgess Hill, the run tackles yet more scenic but demanding Sussex roads, passing through Hassocks and Clayton where it joins the A23 for the run into Brighton and the finish at Madeira Drive.
Aside from the start – the first car will be flagged away from Hyde Park at 7.03am precisely – timings are approximate, but the first cars are expected at the Crawley halt from 8.15am with the last leaving by 2pm. The first car is due at the Madeira Drive finish at shortly after 10am while to be sure of a finishers’ medal, participants need to make it to the finish before 4.30pm.
“Seeing these lovingly maintained cars is more than a spectacle. It’s a piece of living history, a reminder of the fearless motoring pioneers who, literally, paved the way for all of us,” said Peter Read, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club’s Motoring Committee.
The Veteran Car Run is organised by the Royal Automobile Club and is the final act in the Club’s annual London Motor Week – seven days filled with an array of functions and events to suit all motoring tastes.
This year, London Motor Week includes an annual Art of Motoring exhibition, Motoring Lectures, a Motoring Forum, a Bonhams Veteran Car Auction, dinner with FIA President Jean Todt and the Dewar and Simms Trophy presentations, awarded for British engineering excellence.