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Motorcycle Team Duo Complete Famous London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

21st November 2023


The RM Sotheby’s Royal Automobile Club’s 83rd London to Brighton Veteran Car Run was held on 5th November. Veteran cycles and motorcycles are a recent addition to the Run and for this year’s event Brooklands Museum’s Motorcycle Team set itself a project to enter a motorcycle and pedal cycle as a team effort. After many months of dedicated preparation and an early start of 6.45am in Hyde Park, grandfather and son-in-law duo John Bottomley and Phil Kirby, both Volunteers of the Motorcycle Team, set off for their challenge, successfully arriving in Brighton around noon.

John rode the iconic 1903 Dreadnought, hailed as the first motorcycle built for competition, which was kindly loaned to Brooklands Museum from the Vintage Motor Cycle Club (VMCC). Not only did the VMCC grant permission for its use, but they also supplied the original owner’s coat for John to ride in. This very fittingly earned John the winning award for “Period Motoring Attire”, for the person wearing appropriate period dress symbolising the veteran era, at the St James’s International Concours the day prior to the main event. ITV News was quick to interview John after the Run for his daring feat on the Dreadnought as it proved quite the challenge on the day, including five kilometres of pushing the bike to start it at various points.

Phil rode a 1901 pushbike out of Brooklands Museum’s Raleigh Collection which Raleigh kindly provided permission for its use. Speaking after the event he said it was the most challenging bike he had ever ridden in 40 years of cycling and that he was glad Raleigh had made great advances in bike design since 1901.

Speaking of his experience John Bottomley said,

“This project was made possible by the wonderful support of the Brooklands Museum Motorcycle Team volunteers over many months for which I am very grateful as well as their support on the actual day. It is very satisfying to restore the bikes to their former glory and showcase Brooklands Museum as having a very living Collection. It was the most challenging but rewarding event that I’ve ever had the privilege to take part in.”

Andrew Lewis, Collections Manager at Brooklands Museum, said,

“We would like to congratulate John and Phil, as well as the Motorcycle Team for their tremendous efforts, in completing the prestigious Veteran Car Run. Our volunteers are an integral part of the Museum, caring for many Collection items with their expertise, which we value greatly.”

Both machines are on display in the Museum for visitors to get up close to and if you visit on a Thursday there could be a chance to meet the riders themselves and hear their personal experience first-hand. Visit to plan your visit and look out for the video documentary being prepared by the Team on Brooklands Members TV YouTube channel, BMtv.