Boycott for Brighton Run?

The Veteran Car Club of Great Britain and a great many of its members are, in my opinion absolutely correctly, objecting to the IMS/MSA change of dating for veteran cars in this year’s Brighton Run from pre-1905 to pre-1907.

The Times has announced that up to 150 entrants are considering boycotting the Run as a protest against the participation of what it quaintly refers to as ‘boy racers from 1907’, although the Run is not a race. The VCC is angry that it wasn’t consulted before the change was introduced.

Motorsport Now!, the MSA’s magazine, has a piece entitled ‘Edwardian Car Owners’, in which it sees nothing wrong with extending the age limit of Brighton Run veterans. It says that this means “more Classic Car owners can take part in this world-famous event” and “those elegant Edwardian vehicles that were left behind in previous years can be part of the procession”. Mr Andrew Coe, the MSA’s Chief Executive, sees a mix of veteran and Edwardian vehicles as a financial gain, as elevating entries by an additional 200 to around 600 gives an extra entry-fees profit of some 120,000.

What an astonishing way to view a 75-year-old event, renowned the world over, intended to commemorate the repeal of the Red Flag Act in the days of pioneer motoring!

Apparently, the VCC Committee was not informed of this, but the MSA announcement appeared in their pages in Veteran Car, the Club’s magazine, which its editor Elizabeth Bennett was therefore unable to kill. Already an advertisement for a powerful 1905 Delaugere ‘now eligible for the Brighton Run’ has appeared.

The accepted cut-off year for a genuine veteran car has been 1904 ever since the 1928 Run, and this is accepted universally. In 1930, when the Sutton Coldfield and North Birmingham AC had a run for old cars, the main prizes were awarded to pre-1905 vehicles, and at Brooklands the Daily Sketch observed the same dating for the races it put on there with the permission of the BARC. The same date was observed also for such races held there in 1939.

In 1930, the AC de France held a a run from Lisieux to Pont l’Eveque for ‘the ancients’, i.e. really early cars; in 1931, a 1906 Hotchkiss was only allowed to act as a follow-up for any veterans needing help. Motor Sport remarked ‘that if only they would build that Channel tunnel we could make the London-Brighton Run a London-Paris Run…’

Now those true veterans are to be mixed with more sophisticated motors, a stupid and sad change after so long a period when good sense has prevailed.

The Vintage Sports-Car Club originally observed a cut-off date for vintage cars of pre-1931, but from 1936, following a suggestion by E K H Karslake in Motor Sport in 1930, added a 1905-18 class to embrace those exciting racing cars such as the 1912 Lorraine-Dietrich ‘Vieux Charles Trois’, the 1908 GP Itala, 1910 10-litre Fiat and 200hp Benz, etc. Some long time afterwards, the VCC decided also to include Edwardians for certain of its events, but never for the Brighton Run it had shared with the RAC.

This latest unwanted and unnecessary change in Brighton Run dating has raised vehement objections from many. Steve Cropley, editor-in-chief of Autocar, is dead against the change. He thinks the motorsporting world will be surprised that the British, of all people, are willing to chuck away traditions in this way as, if the pre-1907 dating is adopted, he believes everything will change and that the famous Run ‘will lose much of its point’.

I am sure that the majority of VCC of GB members and veteran-car owners far afield all agree. As I do.

Perhaps VCC owners with post-1904 cars could be persuaded to refrain from entering this year’s Run?