The Royal Automobile Club's annual†Veteran Car Run takes place on the first Sunday of every November and commemorates the Emancipation Run of 14 November 1896 which celebrated the passing into law of the Locomotives on the Highway Act, which raised the speed limit for 'light locomotives' from 4 mph to 14 mph and abolished the requirement for these vehicles to be preceded by a man on foot.
The early law required the man on foot to carry a red flag but that requirement was actually abolished in 1878. However, the Locomotive Act was still widely known as the 'Red Flag Act' and a red flag was symbolically destroyed at the start of the Emancipation Run, by Lord Winchilsea as it is today just before the start in Hyde Park of each November's celebration Run by members of The Royal Automobile Club.
33 pioneering motorists set off from the Metropole Hotel in Central London on the 1896 Run to endure the rough roads to the Sussex seaside resort and the Metropole Hotel of Brighton. But only 14 of the starters actually made the journey, and some evidence shows that one car, an electric model, was secretly taken by rail and covered with mud before crossing the finishing line!
The first formal re-enactment of the 1896 Run was staged in 1927 and organised by the motoring editor of the Daily Sketch. The Run has taken place every November thereafter, with the exception of the war years and 1947 when petrol rationing was in force.
From 1930 to the present day the Run has been owned and professionally organised by the Royal Automobile Club of Pall Mall London. In 1936 the Club moved the start of the Run to Hyde Park which has hosted the ceremonial early November Sunday morning assembly ever since and for 2013 celebrates the 77th Anniversary of the start from this Royal Parks venue.
Not a race but an endurance of man and machine the annual event today attracts over 500 automobiles with an eligibility criteria that requires the cars to be of three or four wheel design and certified that their build took place prior to the 1 January 1905.
Many famous celebrities including members of the Royal Family have been seen on the Run and for many years the 60 mile route has been lined with hundreds of thousands of spectators standing in the early winter Sunday mornings to cheer the drivers of this wonderful spectacle of early motoring.
117 years later the†Veteran Car Run is today the world's longest running and greatest motoring celebration event attracting entrants from all over the world. Over 550 entry applications are received with over 25% represented by eligible vehicles shipped to the UK especially for the Run from across Europe, North and South America, Asia and the Australias making the annual Run a truly International event. Over 160 vehicle makes take part and individual values range from around £25,000 to several million!
In December 2010 the Royal Automobile Club won a prestigious Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA) Award for its dedicated promotion of the annual Veteran Car Run and its related protection of early motoring vehicles.
To owners of veteran cars worldwide the annual November run to Brighton represents the high point of the year's early motoring car events and a rare opportunity to take their extraordinary vehicles to a wider audience.