Monday, 22 June 2009

The Steampunk Race of the Century!


Sometimes, questions just arise which need investigating. The BBC programme Top Gear, a show about cars, tends to ask routine questions such as 'will this supercar win a race against this method of public transport from point A to point B', and invariably the supercar wins.

However, one of the recent episodes has taken this question to new and exciting extremes. Highlighting the seepage of steam and dieslpunk into the mainstream, had the best race ever. To wit:

"James grabs himself a gorgeous old Jaguar XK120 sports car while Richard chooses to torture himself on the brutal but rather fantastically named Vincent Black Shadow motorbike. Meanwhile, in an almost unprecedented move, Jeremy decides to take the train. But not just any old train; he's on the footplate of the Tornado, a brand new steam train built to the original blueprints used to create some of Britain's finest locomotives back in the heyday of the railways."
In the spirit of the 19th Century "Races to the North", BBC television's "Top Gear" programme threw down the gauntlet for the builders of brand new Peppercorn A1 Class Tornado and challenged them to a race from London to Edinburgh. On April 25th under the cover of some secrecy, in a thrilling contest that harked back to the great days of the 'fifties, the Cathedrals Express blasted away from Kings Cross at 7.30am on the 25th of April with Jeremy Clarkson on board. Meanwhile Richard Hammond, astride a classic Vincent motorbike, and James May, driving a Jaguar XK120, set off in hot pursuit on the A1 (road).
So, a race from London to Edinburgh featuring a classic motorbike, sports car, and steam train! The power of Steam versus the infernal combustion engine. Could you get more steamy than this!

There are various places where the honourable reader may view the race, and see who wins! Links include the Top Gear site itself (here); youtube (here) and, for those within the UK, the BBC iPlayer (here).

I look forward to the time where the race involves a steamliner, steamtrain, and dirrigible!

The Tornado steamtrain is the product of the project to build a Peppercorn class A1 Pacific steam train from original designs. The Project has been remarkable success, and you should visit their website for details. You can ride behind the Tornado engine by booking seats via Steam Dreams here.

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