The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is organized by the Royal Automobile Club. Participating cars must have been made before 1905 and are not permitted to exceed an average speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). The event is not really a race, though anyone who arrives before 16:30 is rewarded with a medal. The event starts at sunrise in London’s Hyde Park, and mostly follows the old A23 road to the finish at Madeira Drive on the seafront of Brighton – covering a distance of 54 miles (87 km). Halfway through the Run, there is an official resting place in Crawley.
The first Run was organized, on November 14, 1896 by Harry Lawson, a pioneer in the automotive industry pioneer and the founder of the Daimler Motor Company Limited. It was named ‘The Emancipation Run’ as a celebration of the recently passed Light Locomotives on Highways Act of 1896, which liberalized motor vehicle laws in the United Kingdom and raised the speed limit to 14 mph (23 km/h). Since 1878, the speed limit had been 4 mph (6 km/h) in the country and 2 mph (3 km/h) in the city, and an escort had been required to walk 20 yards (18 m) ahead of the vehicle with a red flag.
On the first Run, a total of 33 cars set off from London for the coast and only 17 arrived in Brighton. Two American cars also took part in the Run, marking the first appearance of American motor vehicles in Europe. The next full-distance Commemorative Run was held in 1927, and for most of the years since then, except during the war years, and when petrol rations and coronavirus restrictions were in place.
Many Formula One racing drivers have taken part in the event, including Stirling Moss, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill. In 1968, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco also participated in the Run. More interest than usual was aroused in1971, when Queen Elizabeth II was a passenger in a 70-year-old Daimler, originally owned by her great grandfather, King Edward VII and once driven by her father, King George VI. The car has been on many Runs since then, usually driven by Prince Michael of Kent.