The priceless cars roll into town
Alan Burrows looks ahead to a 100-year-old race that is being resurrected in Preston on Monday.
If you’re on the outskirts of Preston this weekend you could easily be forgiven for taking a second glance.
The Royal Automobile Club, in partnership with the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation, is re-creating the Thousand Mile Trial, which was first run in 1900.
What was the first everBritish endurance and reliability trial, is being reborn to give classic car enthusiasts who own pre-war and veteran cars the opportunity to follow the original trial route, where possible.
Over seven days, they’ll head from the Woodcote Park clubhouse, near Epsom, to Edinburgh and back.
And on Monday, July 14 they’ll be stopping over at the Marriot at Broughton, after a day’s travelling from Woodcote Park, home of the Royal Automobile Club through the Midlands, Shropshire and Cheshire, stopping at Arley Hall near Lymm for a driving test.
The cars will leave on a run up the M6 to Lancaster (Caton) and then up through Cumbria, Dumfries and then on to Edinburgh.
Here’s the origins of the race:
Its 1899 and a large number of the people in Britain had not seen a motor car. In fact people are laughing at the idea that the motor car could become a commercial or practical success.
To show off the motor car an adventure was planned – tour Britain visiting major towns and cities, allowing the public to see and touch the motor car and watch them drive by. The event was planned for spring 1900; One thousand miles as an extensive demonstration trial organised by the Automobile Club. he intent was simple, test human endurance as well as the machinery for reliability and safety.
The idea was a lot simpler than the application.
At this point in time very few enthusiastic motorists (as they were now called) had driven 100 miles in a single day.
No one knew how to draw up a time schedule that could be maintained – how long would it take to drive the required distance each day?
Speed limits at the time were 8mph in towns and 12 mph outside.
Some drivers wanted a 2 hour lunch stop for lunch and liqueurs; others did not want to stop.
To allow the public the opportunity to see the cars up close and personal motor shows were organised in each town and city visited, some just for a couple of hours others all day.
Rest days were built in – driving an open motor car in all weathers was hard work.
Maps were not very accurate.
Sign posts along the way were non existent.
There were no mobile phones and very few static phones for that matter.
Mechanical assistance consisted of what you could carry and repairs you could undertake.
There were few hotels, en route, that were comfortable enough to house the participants Due to all this and many other considerations the event actually took 20 days to complete.
There were 53 trade entries (manufacturers) and 31 private entries of which 23 trade entries and 24 private entries made the finish.
An incredible feat and an event, with hindsight, that was the foundation stone of British Motor Industry.
The Veteran Car Club organised a historic enactment of the Thousand Mile Trial in 2000 to mark its 100 year birthday.
This time the thousand mile journey will take just in six days! “Quite simply, it put motoring on the map,” said Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Motoring Committee of the Royal Automobile Club.
“In 2014, we will be honouring all those adventurous motorists who drove around Great Britain in 1900."
The joint Managing Director at HERO, Tomas de Vargas Machuca, said: “We have wanted to create an event for older cars for quite some time.
“It is clear that pre-war car enthusiasts prefer being on events among competitors with similar cars.
“The 1,000 Mile Trial will be competitive and fun, capturing the spirit of the original event.
“For this reason and to make the event as spectacular as possible we will be encouraging both competitors and marshals to dress in period costume."
“In 1900, when a large number of people in Britain had not seen a motor car, and many laughed at the idea that it could become a commercial or practical success, the Automobile Club organised the thousand mile adventure that would join Britain’s major cities by car.
In 1900 very few motorists had driven 100 miles in a single day.
Tomas said: “After driving an open motor car in all weathers, with no sign posts along the way, no mobile phones and very few static phones for that matter, it took drivers 20 days to complete the route.
“We expect to do it in less than a week, with a dedicated leg for veteran cars an additional feature on the last day.”
Some of the key rides include:
Car number 30: Phillip White/Ian Wallace, Austin Seven Ulster, 1935, 750 cc Phillip is the Director of Marketing for Bristol Cars Limited.
32: Actresses Seren Whyte/ Elise Whyte, Austin Super Seven, 1934, 750cc Seren, 25 and Elise, 22 are currently leading the Historic Rally Car Register Clubman’s Novice series, this is a UK wide championship, they are also the youngest all female crew to compete in historic rallying in the UK.
46: Alastair Caldwell/Catriona Rings Alfa Romeo 6C Supersport, 1938 2500cc. Alastair was the manager for Formula one Legend James Hunt.
2: Robert Coucher/ Duncan Kensington Moir. Bentley 3 Litre 1925 2996cc The very first ever works Bentley to be entered into Le Mans, it is being co-driven by the great nephew of one of the original ‘Bentley Boys’ Bertie Kensington Moir who went on to look after the infamous Bentley Blower team.
29: James Mann/Andrew Mann Lagonda LG45 1934 4500cc. This vehicle has been in the Mann family from the day it was delivered as a works specification racing vehicle. She turns 80 this year and holds the honour of the longest continual membership of the Royal Automobile Club.
There will also be so-called Arrive and Drive vehicles: the Riley Brooklands is being driven by Robert Ingram and Kevin Browne from Australia. The Austin Seven Special is being driven by Seren and Elise Whyte, and finally, the AC March by Tomas De Vargas.