In this non-race, the first to arrive was D Nicholls’ 1899 1¾ hp Romain tricycle. HRH Prince Michael of Kent’s 1902 24 hp Panhard-Levassor Roi-des-Belges had trouble at Brixton and hadn’t arrived when we checked in. Lord Montagu was greeting arrivals at the finish; the National Motor Museum had three entries of which he had driven the 1903 22hp Daimler tonneau. As last year, there was a long narrow diversion near the finish, because roadworks on the A23 have still not been completed!
OIdest car competing, Mrs Ruth Ellis’s 1892 2hp Panhard on iron tyres, with tiller steering and hot tube ignition, successfully made the journey. But Prince Michael of Kent had clutch, engine and overheating problems and the Panhard-Levassor (or Packard-Levassor according to The Times) was put on a trailer at Gatwick, but driven over the finish line. Lord Montagu had a good run, with Jonathan Palmer as his codriver, who said the Daimler was more challenging than an F1 Honda-McLaren.
First car home was Kevin Wheatcroft’s 1902 Panhard, followed by Johnny Thomas’s Napier. An American-entered De Dion retired after about 25 yards but Ford’s British Chairman came in trouble-free on the 1904 Model-C Ford, but the sister car seized up just before Gatwick. The 1903 Brown had inlet valve trouble, but Brian Ferguson took the head off and was going again in 1½ hours. Benson & Hedges Special Events Director drove a 1902 Columbia Electric and had a fine run.
This year 14 of the finishers were reported as his the regulations. They are named as: Robert Brooks, D Harper, Colin Crabbe, D Nicholls (who arrived first), S Fearn, Ben Black, R Loder, Johnny Thomas (who came in third), Kevin Wheatcroft (second home), M Hughes. B Dobson, K Schildbach, G Grime, and R Crosby. In the good old days drivers were encouraged to go as quickly as they liked but things have since become more serious; however, the RAC/MSA should inform us of the nature of these crimes, and the action taken.