As many as half a million spectators will line the route of the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run this November, when the longest running motoring event in the world sets off on its annual adventure from London to Brighton (Sunday, November 1).
Like the hardy teams piloting their amazing horseless carriages from the capital to the coast, the spectators brave whatever the weather conjures up to salute motoring’s pioneers: every car taking part was built before 1905.
Best of all, every vantage point along the 60-mile route offers completely free viewing allowing everyone to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of more than 400 veterans as they ‘put-put’ their way to Brighton.
Although the Run follows more or less the same route as last year, there have been a few changes to make it even better for participants and spectators alike. The first cars will start at Hyde Park Corner at first light (6.54am) where the route takes them through Wellington Arch and down Constitution Hill to pass Buckingham Palace before they head down The Mall.
From The Mall, the cars will turn right onto Horse Guards Road before turning left onto Birdcage Walk, heading towards the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge. Once south of the river, the cars will turn right onto Lambeth Palace Road before turning left by the Palace towards the Imperial War Museum where they join the A23 to head south towards Croydon, Purley, Redhill, Crawley and on to Brighton.
One popular viewing point just south of Redhill is at the A23 Brighton Road crossroads with Hooley Lane. This is a long incline that really tests the cars’ stamina: the first cars are expected here from 7.50am until around 11.30am.
Like last year, the participants will benefit from a pit stop in Crawley, courtesy of Harrods and Gatwick Honda. The dealer will clear its forecourt and service bays of modern cars to allow drivers and mechanics to fettle their steeds while passengers enjoy a warming drink. Due to lack of spectator viewing points, the time control checkpoint has been reintroduced into nearby Crawley High Street to allow fans to get up close to the cars. This will be the vantage point for spectators.
A knowledgeable commentary team will be on-hand in the High Street to give spectators some background on each car as it passes through. The first cars are expected to head off from 8.15am with the last leaving at about 1.45pm.
As the journey continues, the next popular vantage point is the village of Cuckfield where the pubs open early – for teas, coffees and soft drinks. Cars will be passing through here between 8.45am and 2.30pm before heading through Burgess Hill between 8.55am and 3pm and reaching their destination at Brighton.
Another change this year sees the official finish moving to Madeira Drive, the site of the traditional ceremonial finish. The first cars are expected from 9.54am and all will be able to use bus lanes on Brighton’s Grand Parade to ease their passage to the sea front.
The event also attracts owners of classic cars who head out in support of the Run. MGs, Morgans, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys gather outside The Jolly Tanners and The Victory Inn by the village green in Staplefield as their owners cheer the veterans through. Members of the Panhard Club GB and Lotus 7 Club do the same at Handcross, just south of Crawley.
“Interest in the Veteran Car Run is higher than ever and the minor changes we have made to the route are designed not just to make life easier for the participants – you’ve got to remember these cars are all over 110 years old – but also to make it even more inviting to spectators,” said Clerk of the Course, Neil Carr-Jones. “For anyone interested in the history of motoring and how the invention of the horseless carriage has shaped our lives, this is the greatest show on earth.”
There will be even greater spectator involvement on the Run this year. A social media campaign on the day will encourage spectators to vote for the crew dressed in the best period costume. The crew with the most nominations will win the Best Period Dress award!
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