» Issue 31: Spring 2002

Boanerges to Brighton in record time

It was five o'clock in the morning on 4 November when the heavy mahogany doors yielded slowly to our weary arms. Bo' stood there proud in gleaming polish and brass, undaunted by the task ahead, his sweeping curves and running boards defiant to a journey he knew so well. The crank handle spun easily in the new phosphorbronze bearings and the Sons of Thunder pounded, sound ricocheting from building to building. Let the challenge begin!

At the start line, Bo' and passenger Sir Richard Sykes (Rector) waited imperiously for the off. The flag dropped; first, second, third then fourth gear with sedate acceleration towards Hyde Park Corner.

London flashed merrily by in the bright winter's morning. Bo' glided to a stop alongside Sir Ray Tindell, blipping the throttle of his veteran in a playful challenge. Bo' roared off the line, easily beating his opponent but the newer car came back strongly, just ahead at the next junction. The drivers turned and smiled at each other, swapping courtesies through the next six intersections -the way motor-loving gentlemen have spent their time since the advent of the motor car at the turn of the last century. Sir Richard smiled at the overtaking manoeuvres, 1902 style.

Driver Tom Williams and Co-driver Damon Williams on the way to Brighton

Bo' reached the lunch stop, all ready for refreshments. During a 45 minute wait for the lunch, carried by the support team, to catch up, Sir Richard's sandwiches were generously shared around. Last years' driver, Damon Williams, now replaced Dan Lehmann as co-driver and leg two began. Bo' thundered away, anxious to claw back the lost time, sweeping straight through the official VCC tea stop, attacking each incline with an eagerness sorely missed in the previous few years.

Charging down through Brighton, bus lanes were ignored with the finishing line in sight. The crowd roared and a Boomalaka was ringing to the right. A triumphant car and driving crew crossed the line a fraction before 2.30pm, to be met by the Mayor of Brighton and assembled press. Sir Richard passed a 'letter of welcome to office' from the Lord Mayor of London and Bo' moved on to a hero's welcome. Sir Richard and the drivers, meanwhile, enjoyed the sweet taste of Chateau Talbot with Dr Shaun Crofton.

Ideal weather, company and a truly magnificent vehicle on the eve of his 100th birthday served to make this a most unforgettable day. It doesn't get much better than this, yet the sights are set yet further for the centenary event on 22 June and the Centenary Run - London to Paris - starting on 23 June. Is this youthful exuberance or complete madness... We'll see!


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