London to Brighton should be easier than California to Florida

(October 31, 2013) LONDON — When Joy Rainey tackles the Veteran Car Run in her 1904 Oldsmobile in November, it ought to be a breeze. Her faithful Curved Dash Runabout might only have a comfortable top speed of 25 mph, but the 60-mile trip from London’s Hyde Park to Madeira Drive in Brighton should be a great deal easier than the car’s last outing… more than 2,650 miles from coast to coast across America.

Joy took 31 days in April and May this year to complete the mammoth trip from California to Florida, undertaken to raise money for charity. And the Olds, a 7 horsepower single cylinder model, never missed a beat throughout the epic journey despite some treacherous weather, poor roads and modern traffic — including some seriously ‘big rigs’ — whistling past at three times the speed of the American-built veteran. In fact the only problem of note concerned the mudguard brackets which needed a spot of welding after vibrating loose over some washboard road surfaces, while Joy found the tiller steering hard work, especially when battling through side winds. Highlights were many, however.

They included the reassuring chuff-chuff-chuff of the engine, the scenery — with speeds reduced to a walking pace going up hills, there was plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings — and the people the team met en route. “Everyone was so supportive. We even "gate-crashed" a drag racing meeting along the way and were allowed to drive up and down the strip to huge cheers from the crowd,” said Joy. “After surviving that trip, getting to Brighton ought to be easy,” she admitted, “but it never pays to be complacent. I failed to make it all the way in 2001, the first time I did the Veteran Car Run. But that was in a car I borrowed from a museum and it hadn’t been used for a while.”

Despite a high octane motor racing and hill climbing background, that first London to Brighton Run gave Joy a taste for this slightly slower branch of the sport. She bought the Oldsmobile in 2006, completing the Run successfully in 2006 and 2007. “Then my partner, Trevor Hulks, and I decided to re-enact a coast-to-coast US crossing made in 1903 in a similar Oldsmobile by pioneering drivers Lester Whitman and Eugene Hammond,” said Joy.

Trevor set about rebuilding the car for the journey but tragically succumbed to cancer before the pair could undertake the trip. “It took me a while to summon up the courage to do it without him,” said Joy, “but I’m so glad I did. It was a fitting tribute to Trevor and helped raise much needed funds for Cancer Research UK.” The trip has given her a taste for long distance driving in the Olds. After this year’s Veteran Car Run, she is planning a slightly longer expedition… from Adelaide to Darwin in her native Australia. “Back in 2004, I did the London to Sydney Marathon in a ‘modern’ (a 1970 Morris Minor) and loved the Outback so much that I vowed I would return one day.”