courtesy Royal Automobile Club
The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run must be a lot of fun. Pink Floyd’s drummer, Nick Mason, has driven in it every year since 1985 and has finished all but two times. He’ll be driving a 1901 5-litre Panhard et Levassor Roi des Belges this Sunday, one of many classic cars owned by his company. Now there’s a garage I’d love to tour.
Yep, he’s a gearhead, and has been for years. About the Panhard, bought specifically for doing the London to Brighton run, he says, “Big-engined cars from this era are not that common, and the great thing about the Panhard’s 5-litre engine is that the car can tackle a steep hill even when loaded to the gunwales with friends, family and mechanics.” He should know, he’s used it on the course 18 times already.
About the run itself, he says, “I suspect I was, like most people, guilty of assuming the run was mainly an excuse for dressing up, but experience has taught me that considerable skill is required to keep these brutes going in a straight line, let alone coaxing the gearbox into surrendering another gear. Entering Madeira Drive in Brighton gives you as great a sense of satisfaction as a chequered flag.”
He adds, “My passion for cars and motor racing predates any involvement with music. My father, a director for Shell’s documentary film unit, used to take me in his 4 1/2 litre Bentley to the vintage car events he was competing in, and some of my happiest childhood memories include the smell of leather, hot oil and blended racing fuels, accompanying the ticking sound of hot metal.”
Definitely a gearhead.