National Drive It Day is celebrated annually on the Sunday nearest the 23rd April and commemorates the Thousand Mile Trial held on this date in 1900.   This Trial was organised by the Automobile Club, forerunner of the RAC, and was suggested by Lord Northcliffe to promote the motor industry and to show the public that cars were a safe and reliable form of transport.   He offered Gold and Silver medals and a prize fund of £452. to be competed for. 


Sixty five cars left Grosvenor Place in London following the route to Bristol, Manchester,  Carlisle, Edinburgh, then south to Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham and terminating at the Automobile Club Head Office in London.   Along the way Hill Climb events and a measured mile speed trial with a rolling start were incorporated.   This was won by The Hon. C.S. Rolls with a maximum recorded speed of 37.63  in his 12hp Panhard.   The Gold Medal was presented to him and the Silver Medal to the only lady competitor, Mrs. Bazalgette in her Benz.   Of the sixty five starters forty five completed the Trial.   It was certainly a test of endurance both for the cars and the drivers, bearing in mind the state of the early roads and the fact that the drivers had to carry out their own repairs.    It took place over three weeks which allowed for rest days, when celebratory dinners were held, and the public had the opportunity to view the cars. 


The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs who promotes the Drive It Day exists to protect historic vehicle owners' rights to use the public highway and is a peaceful demonstration of enthusiasts exercising that right. 


Gillian Beecher