Another brilliant Banbury Run – and it’sstill the biggest and best in the world!

Almost 500 riders took part in the Vintage Motor Cycle Club’s 68th Banbury Run, open only to VMCC members on pre-1931 machines, on Sunday, June 19 – down a little on the 600 or so during the halcyon days of a few years ago, but still living up to the event’s tag of ‘the largest gathering of veteran and vintage machines in the world’.

Starting from what has now become the event’s home, the British Motor Museum (formerly the Heritage Motor Centre) at Gaydon, Warwickshire, 487 riders (with No. 488 a late entry) set off along three carefully-tailored routes.

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Tim Reynolds’ Norton, used by Jimmy Shaw in the 1921 Senior TT, takes centre stage before the Banbury Run gets under way, with Alison Hunt’s 1928 Scott Flying Squirrel tucked in behind.
It was Ian Hood’s third run on this 1926 ‘Big Port’ AJS, but pillion rider Dan’s first. “It’s more like a trampoline than I expected,” said Dan, but he added: “It’s the best fun I’ve ever had.”
Mike Wills’ fully-loaded 1911 Bradbury leads out Jacqueline Bickerstaff’s 1898 Léon Bollée.
Ivan Rhodes prepares for the start on the 1927 AJS H6 that he bought for £20 56 years ago. He explained that the bike had been ridden by Howard Davies, Bruce Main-Smith, Olga Kevelos and VMCC founder Titch Allen.
Chris and Mary Harris are pictured with a 1929 Ariel Model F. Chris is often seen aboard a Scott, but said that the Ariel was much more suitable for pillion duties when Mary comes along!

Route A is for mainly veteran (pre-1915) machines; route B for early vintage (1915-24); and route C for late vintage (1925-30). Routes for the latter two classes include the famous Sunrising Hill, part of the test route of several manufacturers during those periods.

It remains the favourite place for spectators to congregate, and still presents a challenge to the riders, particularly those of the lower-powered motorcycles.

As well as being the run’s start and finish point, with an excellent commentary as the riders depart, Gaydon hosts a sprawling autojumble that’s busy all day long.

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This year’s commentator was visiting American enthusiast Paul D’Orleans, who runs the website and is a columnist for OBM’s sister title, Classic Bike Guide.

Tony Baxter had the honour of being the first person to complete the Banbury Run on a Brooklands Museum motorcycle, and after crossing the line on this 1927 Sunbeam Light Tourist, he said: “It was wonderful to see so many old machines out on the road doing exactly what their makers intended.”
Barlosz Bergandy pushes his 1929 Peugeot Special Sport to the line with a smile.
Talk about chuffed! Richard Wiseman (1926 Model P Triumph) leads a group of riders to the finish.
After the finish, Martin Taylor said he was very pleased with the performance of both this unique 1921 Kenilworth standing scooter and his legs, although he admitted having to push it up Sunrising Hill. Originally owned by a Coventry man, it was consigned to the garden shed after he came off, and Martin’s grandfather bought it for £2 after seeing it going into a skip in the 1960s.
The last men to set off ride back in together, with Gary Hoyle (Rudge) leading the way from Matt Little (Sunbeam).

The nature of the event means there’s only a very short period when things go quiet, just enough time for a quick tour of the museum and a bite to eat before the motorcycles start rolling in again, and the riders start to tell their diverse stories of the day.

One of the oldest entries was Jacqueline Bickerstaff’s 1898 4hp Léon Bollée tandem tricycle.

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This 1913 3½hp 430cc Wanderer won Gordon Hallett the Sheldon Trophy for the machine with the most technical interest.

We are grateful to James Robinson and Martin Gegg for this report and photos. There will be more about the Banbury Run, including a full list of results and more pictures, in next month’s OBM.

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