The 2011 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run (LBVCR) was a fitting tribute to the 125th anniversary of the first automobile.
Jutta Benz, the great-granddaughter of Carl Benz, opened the 115th running of the event driving a replica 1880s Benz Motorwagen. It was the 1897 Marot Gardon Tricycle of Matt Roberts, however, that was the first vehicle to arrive in Brighton. Three hours and 25 minutes after leaving the startline in Hyde Park, it crossed the finish line on Madeira Drive, despite a detour due to an incident in Streatham.
After his first attempt at the Run, 1992 Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell said that it had been “Brilliant! Fantastic!” The ex-F1 and CART champion, who acted as chauffeur to his friend the Minister for Transport Mike Penning MP, added: “It’s a true testament to what it’s all about. It reminds you how far the car has come.”
The day before there had been another reminder of how far technology has come with the Brighton to London RAC Future Car Challenge. Sixty-five low-emission vehicles lined up for the second running of the event, ranging from electric and hybrid cars to hydrogen-powered machines. The overall winner of the event, in which 1996 World Champion Damon Hill took part, was ex-F1 designer Gordon Murray’s electric T.27.
“This is the only event in the world that demonstrates real cars in real conditions,” he said. “Last year we won with our petrol car, the T.25, and this year with our electric car, both of which clearly demonstrate that lightweight is the biggest tool we have for reducing emissions.”