London to Brighton veterans will return to town’s High Street enabling local residents to see the cars close-up
An innovative change to the route taken by the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run last year was a hit with the hundreds of participants in the world’s longest-running motoring event when, rather than taking their traditional mid-Run stop in Crawley High Street on their way to the coast, the intrepid drivers benefited from a new stop with the Harrods Stop at Crawley held at Honda Gatwick. The dealership had generously cleared its workshops of modern cars to allow running repairs to be carried out on the old-timers, the youngest of which is 111 years old.
The warm and dry surroundings were especially welcome given that few of the cars have any weather protection at all and for most of last year’s Run the weather was cold, wet and windy.
While the participants were happy with the warm and dry environment from which to enjoy their well-earned refreshments, the local community felt rather short-changed. For them, their High Street had long been a fabulous vantage point from which to enjoy the spectacle of these pioneering horseless carriages from the dawn of motoring in action.
This year however, Crawley Borough Council and some members of the local business community have collaborated with organisers to ensure that spectators in Crawley have the chance to enjoy watching the Run up-close once again. Following their discussions with Crawley Borough Council, the organisers have changed the route so that once the cars have made their halfway stop at Honda Gatwick, they will then continue with their pilgrimage to Brighton via Crawley High Street where an official mid-way check-point will take place. This will be the official location for local Run supporters in Crawley and there will not be provision for spectators at the Honda dealership – the focus for spectators is firmly focused on the High Street, in recognition of last year’s feedback.
“Every November these veterans are one year older and almost all need some sort of fettling between Hyde Park and Madeira Drive. The ‘halfway halt’ at Honda Gatwick was warmly welcomed – literally – by the drivers and their passengers as it gave them a chance to make running repairs in the dry, while enjoying a hot drink and pastries courtesy of Harrods.
“Last year they then continued straight to Brighton, missing out the traditional trip down Crawley High Street, which disappointed a number of hardy spectators,” said Clerk of the Course Neil Carr-Jones.
“This year we are addressing that by re-routing the Run through the High Street and installing a time control check point. This means every car will stop for a few moments giving spectators the perfect opportunity to marvel at these incredible machines, take photos and converse with the veteran car drivers and their passengers, many in period costume.”
Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development, added: “We have worked hard with the Royal Automobile Club and the event organisers, Goose Live Events, to bring the Veteran Car Run back to the High Street. This has been a joint effort following feedback received after last year’s event and aims to give Crawley residents, businesses and visitors greater involvement with the Run. We are pleased that we have been able to improve the arrangements for this year’s event and will continue to work with the event organisers to maintain Crawley’s vibrant and exciting involvement with the Run.”
The change of route does have cost implications, with crowd barriers and extra marshals needed to ensure the smooth running of the event. In addition to the support from Crawley Borough Council, a number of local businesses, including Taylor Wimpey and Elekta, have also stepped forward to generously provide support of the checkpoint. However, the opportunity exists for others to help with sponsorship in support of this community event and in doing so enjoy a number of benefits through a local association.
“The stop in Crawley High Street is an ideal chance for local residents and visitors to enjoy the spectacle, and it’s a perfect opportunity for enterprising local companies to become part of this long-running event,” said Michelle Warner, Sponsorship and Marketing Manager, Goose Live Events, which organises the Run on behalf of the Royal Automobile Club.