We’ve Clement Freud MP and restauranteur Joseph Berkmann to thanks for what’s now known as the ‘Beaujolais Run.’ It would have been back in the 1970s when the two friends, having had dinner and consumed a fair bit of wine, challenged each other to see who could get a case or three of the new Beaujolais back to Britain first. At that point, the now famous 'Run' was born.
While it’s no longer a race, the Beaujolais Run is still a competitive navigational rally for classic and modern vehicles. The aim now is to have a bit of fun and to raise a lot of money for charity. Last year’s run benefitted the RAF Benevolent Fund and happened to intersect with the Official RAF 100 Centenary too.
All the teams entering the Beaujolais Run committed to raising a minimum of £1,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund and had to find the shortest route possible between Champagne and Macon. There were two classes entrants could have elected - one driven by paper maps and the other by GPS. One of the entrants could make a reasonable case for being in a class of its own. Answering to the team name of ‘I’m Brian and so’s my wife,’ and powered along by a very heavily modified Ford P100 with a five litre power plant, Darren Standing’s team drew its inspiration from another timely event in the RAF’s history - the 75th Anniversary of the famous Dambusters.
Darren picks up the story, “As it was the 75th anniversary of the famous Dambusters Squadron, permission was sought to represent and pay tribute to 617 Squadron. This was agreed by the RAF and set the theme for this years Run, with all teams given one of the Dambuster call Signs representing the 19 aircraft that took part in the raid. The start was at the historic RAF Scampton, the first Home of the Dambusters and where they set off in 1943 for the raid on the German Dams. These days Scampton is the home of the famous Red Arrows and so we were given unprecedented access to both the historic Lancaster Bomber Hangar and the Red Arrows operational Hangar. We were all flagged away at 10:00am on the 10th November, on Runway 22 by the current Red10 Squadron Leader Adam Collins and so the 2018 Beaujolais Run and official closing event for the RAF100 began.
“Our route saw us loosely follow the path of the Dambusters crossing into Holland via France and Belgium where we would lay wreaths at two memorials in Holland as the representatives of 617 Squadron. The first was the last resting place of Wing Commander Guy Gibson and the second at a Dutch airbase where the remains of aircraft AJ-S for Sugar crashed in 1943. As you can probably imagine, being Remembrance Sunday, it was a very poignant and emotional affair and we all felt deeply honoured to be paying our respects to those brave souls.
“Monday saw us arrive in Reims, France ready for the competition days which start on the Tuesday at Champagne Taittinger and involve two days of navigation taking us to the finish on Wednesday in Macon. The aim is to navigate there by the shortest route possible and there are two classes for either traditional map reading or using modern sat nav equipment.
“The vehicle we used this year was a 1984 Ford P100 pickup truck that was based on the Cortina saloon. Ours is heavily modified from standard and runs a 5 litre V8 among other modifications. Because of this years theme I came up with the idea to create a mobile memorial to the Dambusters by wrapping the truck. I approached a military artist for permission to use one of his paintings as the basis for a memorial and then spoke with Alex at GPG to check on the feasibility of doing this. The finished result is fantastic and has been well received wherever we’ve been with the truck and I have to thank Alex for the superb job of applying the wrap and yourselves for the excellent materials.”
Metamark is delighted to have contributed a little MD-X to the cause and we’d add that GPG’s wrapping work looks stunning on the big Ford - we’re sure it turned heads. I’m Brian and so’s my wife won the event for the second year on the trot and we’re delighted about that too. Same time next year?