Story and Photos by Jonathan Sharp
From a total of 450 entries submitted for this year’s Royal Automobile Club/Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran car run, 49% were of French manufacture. Starting from Hyde Park at 7:02 am (sunrise) 405 cars headed off to Brighton to celebrate the 121st Anniversary run of the passing of the light locomotives on the highway act of 1896. This act of Parliament raised the speed limit for light locomotives weighing less than 3 tons from 4 to 14 mph, and also abolished the requirement for the vehicle to be proceeded by a person on foot carrying a red flag.
Due to major roadworks on the normal route through South London, this year’s event had to be rerouted through Reigate in Surrey before rejoining its traditional route south to Brighton. Tragically a major accident involving a 1902 Benz and three modern cars occurred on Reigate hill resulting in the loss of life of one of the occupants of the Benz.
To qualify as a finisher the entrants must make it to Brighton by 4.30 pm. Of the 405 Veterans that left Hyde Park 315 made it to Brighton before the cutoff time. This year rather than just heading into the center of Brighton to catch the cars as they arrive, I decided to head slightly inland to catch the cars as they arrived at Clayton Hill which is the last major challenge for the cars before they join the main road into Brighton. It was a beautiful bright sunny autumn day but very cold especially if you happen to be sitting out in the open in a Veteran car without a heater. As the weather was nice the Veterans were joined on the route by many other classics vehicles; hot rods, custom cars, Mods on scooters and even three Vintage Bedford Buses taking part in the run to raise funds for the BBC Television’s Children in Need appeal. BBC Radio 2 DJ and petrol-head Chris Evans was driving one, and BBC TV The One Show presenter Miss Alex Jones was at the wheel of another. After spending a few hours out in the country I headed back into Brighton and joined the crowd applauding the Veterans as they arrived at the finish.
Half the fun of watching the Brighton Run is in observing the participants and drivers. Jonathan Sharp captured a wide range of interesting emotions this year, and we featured a special section devoted to the people of the Brighton Run. Click here to see miles of smiles.
On the road
On the beach at the finish