Red Flag Horseless Carriage Tour enters its second year
BRIGHTON (GTNS) — Even as rain threatened to pour on the vintage cars that had entered Brighton shortly before noon Saturday, the drivers still took time to line up on Washington Street to display the turn-of-the-century-era “light locomotives” for onlookers to see.
Because many of the 12 horseless carriages had open driver compartments, a nearby barn was opened up for the drivers to park inside to wait out the rain before beginning the return leg of the Red Flag Horseless Carriage Tour. The motorists then made their way to the shelter in City Park to have lunch. Mayor Rob Farley stamped many participation certificates. The certificates were first stamped about 43 miles and several hours earlier in New London at the start of the second running of the tour.
“We have people who have come from quite some distance because they know the quality of the event we have started to put on here,” Jeff Krug, chairman of the Red Flag Tour, said.
One of the drivers had made the trip from San Francisco, Calif., to participate in the tour. Four of the drivers were from Wisconsin. The oldest vehicle was from 1909, while the newest was from 1922. Krug said there were two cars fewer than last year, explaining there had been some mechanical issues, so some of the vehicles had not been able to make the tour. He expects there to be more cars in the third event next year.
Gerry Schneph of Johnston and Jim McDonald of Windsor Heights entered their 1922 Detroit Electric car. The carriage was powered by 14 golf cart batteries and set itself apart by not making the distinctive “chug” sound the other vehicles made. The car had a range of about 80 miles on one charge.
“It’s on loan to us from the Quam collection out of Ames,” McDonald explained. “It was taken out of the collection by the Iowa Transportation Museum. A group of us got the car running again – it had been sitting for years. This is the second time we have driven it in the Red Flag Tour.”
With a cruising speed of about 25 mph on the flat, the car found itself leading the pack several times. The tour, however, is a test of endurance and not about who reaches the end first. McDonald said that his father had collected antique cars while he was growing up. As a child, he said he was an expert on Model T Fords. He now has 14 cars.
Schneph said he has only two antique cars. He said that the value of older cars is that it teaches the driver to slow down and look at the countryside.
“It takes your pace back to a different pace in life,” Schneph said. “You think about things differently. You think if you were in a horse and buggy, it would have been a lot slower. It is all relative.”
Wes Ranard of Newton drove his 1920 Model T center door into town shortly before lunch. He had driven in the tour last year in a 1910 Sears. He said that the run had gone smoothly, although there had been a few drops of rain along the way.
“The scenery is beautiful,” he said. “We had some nice stops. It was fun running with the other cars.”
He and his father, Larry Ranard, both agreed the Model T was much easier to run than the Sears, and the top speed of the vintage Ford is 35 mph compared to 20 mph in the Sears. They expect to use it during next year’s event.
Doug Rohde of Manitowoc, Wis., entered the tour with his 1910 Devion Bouton from France. This is the second year he ran the vehicle on the tour.
“We enjoy the run and the hospitality,” he said. “Everything is first class.”
The event is a re-enactment of the 1896 burning of the red flag and tour between London and Brighton, England. The law repealed a red flag law stating a vehicle could travel no more than 2 mph in town and 4 mph outside of town. The law also stated that a person precede the vehicle on foot waving a red flag. After the law was repealed, the vehicles could top their speeds at 14 mph.
“I think it is an awesome opportunity for people to see what the past was like,” Farley said. “I have noticed we have some other cars from this period that have come out. You get to see a big comparison. I think it is a wonderful thing they have chosen Brighton to do this with. I think it is a wonderful opportunity.”
He said that during the first year of the tour, the people of Brighton didn’t know what to expect from the tour. After having hosted the halfway mark for two years, Farley hopes the event will continue and get bigger.
Krug said the tour would be held again next year.
“We plan to do this and grow it every year,” he said. “We have more ideas that we are going to try to do. We love to see the communities’ involvement, and we want to see them capitalize on what we are doing.”