Monday, 16 May 2022

Motoring showcase gave me enduring love of cars

MY enthusiasm for cars, like many people, comes direct from childhood: one of my most vivid

MY enthusiasm for cars, like many people, comes direct from childhood: one of my most vivid memories was our annual visit to the London to Brighton Veteran Run.

My father would call us very early from our beds on the first Sunday in November to make the annual pilgrimage to the Serpentine in London to witness the run’s start.

I notice from the details I have of this year’s event — which marks the 120th anniversary of the first so-called Emancipation Run from London to Brighton held in November 1896 — that the start begins just before seven in the morning.

So those early rises were not a figment of my young imagination. To get to London before the run began we must have left Emmer Green where we then lived at around 5.30am.

But it was always worthwhile and probably instilled in me my enduring love of classic and vintage cars. This year’s anniversary is indeed significant. The Emancipation Run marked the passing into law of the Locomotives on the Highway Act, which raised the speed limit for “light locomotives” from 4mph to 14mph and abolished the need for the vehicles to be preceded by a man carrying a red flag.

As tradition dictates, the run –— which has been organised by the Royal Automobile Club since 1930 — takes place on the first Sunday, which this year falls on November 6. More than 400 three- and four-wheelers — all built before 1905 — will take part.

The Royal Automobile Club was founded in 1897 and its history mirrors that of motoring itself.

King Edward VII, sealing its status as Britain’s oldest motoring organisation, awarded the club its royal title in 1907. The club’s early years were focused on promoting the motor car and its place in society, which developed into motoring events such as the 1000 Mile Trial, first held in 1900.

In 1905, the club held the first Tourist Trophy, which remains the oldest continuously competed-for motor sports event.

The club promoted the first pre-war and post-war Grands Prix at Brooklands in 1926 and Silverstone in 1948 respectively, whilst continuing to campaign for the rights of the motorist, including introducing the first driving licences.

The London to Brighton Veteran Run is just one element of the Royal Automobile Club’s London Motor Week — a seven-day celebration of motoring, which includes an art exhibition, motoring heritage lectures, a motoring forum and a motoring books awards evening.

The penultimate event comes the day before the veteran event and is the Regent Street Motor Show, on November 5, which turns the capital’s top shopping street into a motoring showcase that puts the spotlight on veterans and modern cars alike.

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