Beaujolais Run honors dam-busting Royal Air Force mission

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Some of the early entrants pose with vintage RAF aircraft | Beaujolais Run photos

On May 16, 1943, 19 Lancaster bombers flew from the Royal Air Force base at Scrampton, England, on a mission to break the German dams at Mohne, Ederf and Sorpe, destroying two hydroelectric powerplants and several factories in the process.

As if the mission wasn’t daunting enough, the planes had to fly 60 feet above the lake surfaces at precisely 220 mph and drop their loads exactly 425 feet from the dam walls.

The mission will be celebrated November 10-16 during the first leg of the annual Beaujolais Run, which also will be the final official event of the RAF centennial. The event, open to eclectic mix of classic cars, daily drivers and modern supercars, will raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

Because of the tie-in to the RAF centennial, participants on the auto rally are being granted access to “restricted locations” in England and on the Continent, organizers announced.

Beaujolais Run poster

“In the style that is synonymous with the event, it will unravel, in a respectful, and fun way, the story of the 133 brave airmen that took part in this amazing feat whilst raising funds for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund,” organizers said in an announcement. 

“This year’s Run will visit poignant RAF and Royal Dutch Airforce locations; as well as taking in the delights of Holland, Belgium and France.”

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The cars on the Run are organized into teams for the drive through the Champagne, Burgundy and Beaujolais wine regions. They also will return to the UK, and by the shortest route possible, with the first of France’s 2018 wine harvests, which will be released at midnight on Thursday, November 15.

“We are the original Mad Dogs and Englishmen car event; now in our forty eighth year,” noted Rob Bellinger, the Run director.

 “As such we could not let the 2018 end, without our own unique tribute to the great bravery shown by 617 Squadron and the sacrifices made by those on all sides. 

“It is fantastic to be able to commemorate in such a positive way 100 years of the RAF, by raising money for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund at the beginning of it’s own centenary year.”

For more information on the event, including entry details, visit the Beaujolais Run website.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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