It can now be told that the remarkable entry of 462 pre-I905 cars for this year’s Brighton Run was decimated to 418, after 44 drivers had either failed to report at the start or had been non-starters. But the formidable total of 359 successfully completed the 58.8-mile journey, (the retirements are set out below) which included the hilly scenic section necessitated for two years due to roadworks on the A23 and retained this year, although some of the lower-powered carriages-sans-horses found this difficult and passing impossible, on these minor roads south of Gatwick, from Pease Pottage to Burgess Hill.
But this typically British event otherwise went off well, the weather cold but dry, in spite of some delays in getting clear of Hyde Park, queues at the new Gatwick coffee-stop, and at the finish as arriving crews were interviewed. For some, problems intruded early. A 1901 Stirling dog-cart from S Africa was difficult to start and B Ripley lost ten minutes because his 1904 Darracq ran out of petrol a few feet from being flagged to start. But it is to the credit of the pre-1900 primitives that 25 out of 36 made it to the Pylons by 4pm, including No 1, P Dawe’s 1895 Benz Victoria with but one 5 hp cylinder to propel it. At the opposite extreme, the five racing cars were also successful, the 1902 “Paris-Vienna” Renault, the National Motor Museum’s 1903 Gordon Bennett Napier, an ex-Brooklands Mercedes, Ed Rowan driving Don Meyer’s formidable Peerless and Johnny Thomas, on his second “go” on the 1902 GB Napier. Ben Collings had a quick run on the Majzub Mercedes — but, like father, like son, so fast that he upset the RAC, which illogically listed him as a non-finisher!
Very definitely this is NOT a race but it is always interesting to know who got to the Mayorial welcome on the Madeira Drive first.
This time it was Roger Heminway’s 1901 Type-E Renault, although it was overheating and had to be pushed for the last ten yards. Second, “clocking-in” correctly, was the Thomas GB Napier. Third in was the 1901 Lanchester of G Pilmore-Bedford. That great sportsman and “press-on” driver HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of the Veteran Car Club of GB, had a successful run on the RAC’s 1901 four-cylinder Mors. The RAC joined the VCC in organising the Run in 1930. For the past three years sponsorship has come from Benson & Hedges and it was rather hard on them that their Jim Elkins’ Introduction in the programme faced a Government warning on the dangers of smoking! The £3 programme was well illustrated but rather unnecessarily included pictures of non-veterans, such as the Rover-BRM, a Police Wolseley and 1966 Ford Cortina GT, in publicising a classic car paper and the Heritage Motor Centre. And in it Elkins perpetuated the now-expected Red Flag abolition in 1896 gaffe!
The Chairman of Ford of Britain, Ian McAllister, enjoyed the Run, in the 1904 10 hp two-cylinder Type-C Ford driven by J Darlow, and got in a little plug for the Mondeo at the finish, saying the veteran’s suspension was not quite up to the same standard. . . The 10,000 spectators said to be lining the Madeira Drive saw the Darracq “Genevieve” complete a trouble-free journey for which a major restoration had prepared it, but fortune failed to shine on other celebrities. John Dennis, grandson of the founder of the Dennis company, cured a leaking fuel tank by the time-honoured chewing-gum method. But Nick Mason (Panhard), Nigel Corner (Peugeot), Mrs Goding, the VCC Secretary and her husband (De Dion), Mr and Mrs Langton (Peugeot and Panhard), and Malcolm Jeal, Chairman of the VCC’s Dating Committee (De Dion combination) being among the retirements, Jeal losing much time over an elusive condenser disconnection, nor did Von Pien’s 1897 Benz from the Daimler-Benz Museum in Stuttgart make it this time.
The full list of the unfortunates who failed to finish is: P Briggs (1895 Peugeot), N LeLong (1897 Beeston tricycle), M Von Pien (1897 Benz), R Riley (1897 Daimler), A Doering (1897 Roberts Electric), E Baldock (1898 Leon Bollée), K Foulkes-Halbard (1898 Orient Express), S Langton (1898 Peugeot), P Lumsden (1899 Locomobile), I Hennessy (1899 Locomobile), J Leitch (1899 Begot et Mazurie), M Jeal (1900 De Dion combination), J Worsley (1900 Renault), R Hounslow (1900 Mobile steamer), R Eastmead (1900 Stephens), M Crump (1900 American steamer), J-P Flury (1901 Darracq), D Sheppard (1901 Panhard-Levassor), R Hemingway (1901 Renault), N Mason (1901 Panhard-Levassor), P Clarke (1902 Oldsmobile), K Curry (1902 Oldsmobile), Dr Dyke (1902 Steammobile), T Dickson (1902 Delahaye), A Hamilton (1902 Siddeley), A Mackay (1902 Arrol-Johnston), P Radford (1902 Arrol-Johnston), Mrs Langton (1902 Panhard-Levassor), R Shaw (1903 Rex), P Taylor (1903 Oldsmobile), N Corner (1903 Peugeot), R Banner (1904 De Dion), J Pullen (1904 Wolseley), J Studdard (1904 Wolseley), J Arthur (1904 De Dion), G Marsh (1904 Panhard-Levassor), G Hollanby (1904 Star), R May (1904 De Dion), C Dane (1904 De Dion), D Smart (1904 Elmore), M Coding (1904 De Dion), J Davies (1904 Cadillac), D Starks (1904 Cadillac), G Boland (1904 Ford), T Henley (1904 Turner-Miesse), J Cooke (1904 Humber), Sir J Rogers (1904 Darracq), S Southall (1904 Lagonda), B Lally (1904 Lanchester) and A Ferguson (1904 Gladiator). W B