Chris Evans will be ‘all aboard’ a vintage bus in Hyde Park early on Sunday morning and bound for the Sussex coast.
The BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show DJ is teaming up with The One Show presenter Alex Jones to drive a classic Bedford bus from the fifties in this year’s running of the famous Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run (Sunday 1 November 2015); a trip, which has raised a significant amount of money for BBC Children in Need.
The pair passed their PCV (Passenger Carrying Vehicle) tests last week and will be joined on the journey by fellow Radio 2 broadcaster Ken Bruce, who will be behind the wheel of a similarly aged 60-year-old Bedford.
Generously, five listeners to Evans’ radio show donated a remarkable £349,628 for the privilege of being passengers in the pair of period coaches. The top bidder, known just as Mike from East Yorkshire, promised £90,000 for himself and 19 friends to ride down to Brighton, while the next four highest bidders will be taking four friends each.
The adventure – dubbed ‘40 Go Bonkers to Brighton’ – will start soon after daybreak on Sunday morning with the two vintage buses joining an amazing collection of more than 400 pre-1905 veteran cars from the dawn of driving on what is the world’s longest-running motoring event.
The Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run celebrates the original Emancipation Run, held on 14 November 1896, which marked the Locomotives on the Highway Act. This landmark Act raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4mph to 14mph and abolished the need for a man walking ahead of the cars waving a red flag.
The first re-enactment of the Emancipation Run took place in 1927 and has been held every year since, with the exception of the war years and 1947 when petrol rationing was in force.
As part of today’s special commemorations, the Run starts before sunrise with a traditional ceremony to rip up of the symbolic red flag – a ritual performed last year by TV personality Paul Hollywood and Olympic legends Sir Ben Ainslie and Sir Steve Redgrave.
With the flag torn, Evans, Jones & Bruce will set out from Hyde Park and follow exactly the same route as the hordes of ‘horseless carriages’. They will travel past Buckingham Palace, down The Mall, through Parliament Square and over Westminster Bridge en route for the A23 and the open countryside. Like the plucky participants, the two buses will enjoy a well-earned mid-trip break at the Harrods Stop in Crawley before heading over the South Downs and on to the finish on Brighton’s Madeira Drive.
Spectators wishing to follow ‘40 Go Bonkers to Brighton’ and savour what is one of the undisputed highlights on the global automotive calendar can find full route information on the official www.veterancarrun.com website. The two buses will also be on public display at the previous day’s Regent Street Motor Show (Saturday 31 October) in central London.