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The London To Sydney Marathon
The idea for the London to Sydney Marathon came about over a lunch between Sir Max Aitken, chairman of Beaverbrook Newspapers, and Tommy Sopwith, racing driver. From the initial idea things moved quickly and an overland route from London to Bombay, shipment of the competitors to Fremantle in Australia on the P&O liner Chusan, and a tough route across Australia to the finish in Sydney - a total of 10,000 miles - was soon devised. After a huge publicity build-up the London to Sydney Marathon started from London's Crystal Palace, where massive crowds turned out to witness the start of the adventure. The BMC cars were seen off by Lord Stokes and were very much the pre-event favourites. Overland to Bombay passed without incident for most of the crews, but when they arrived in India huge crowds turned out everywhere to witness their passing. Paddy Hopkirk recalls, "it was like driving through a sea of people - all immaculately dressed in their best white robes. "You had to swerve the car to get them to pull back, and sometimes you couldn't get out of the car to service it - while of course people would also pinch bits off the cars." The sea voyage on the Chusan was apparently memorable for the wonderful food and great parties. The London to Sydney Marathon was a great success and started a short-lived fashion for very long rallies, but none of the subsequent events matched the toughness and drama of the original event which came to be known as "The Long Drive".
The complete article from which the above was extracted may be found at http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/motors