The Top Gear Race to the North was a three way race between a Jaguar XK120 car, a Vincent Black Shadow motorbike, and No. 60163 Tornado, a brand new mainline steam locomotive completed in Britain in 2008. The race saw the car, bike and locomotive, race from London, England, to Edinburgh, Scotland, a journey of around 400 miles. Eighteen months in the planning, the race was filmed in secret on 25 April 2009, to be shown on 21 June 2009 on the UK's top rated motoring programme.
Dubbed A1 versus A1, the race involved Tornado, based on the design of the 1949 Peppercorn A1 Class post-war British Railways express passenger locomotives running on the East Coast Main Line, pitted against the 1949 models of Jaguar car and Vincent motorbike, both being restricted to using the A1 primary road, rather than the modern day M1 Motorway.
After choosing their form of transportation out of a hat, car enthusiast Jeremy Clarkson chose to run the race on board Tornado, leaving motorbike fan Richard Hammond to drive the Black Shadow, with Jaguar fan James May in XK120. The race was to be the centrepiece of the first episode in the 13th series of Top Gear.
The race saw No. 60163 Tornado, capable of over 100 mph but restricted to 75 mph, break a number of records for preserved steam locomotive operation in Britain, including the first 'non-stop' all-steam-hauled passenger train from London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley in 41 years, and a first for the steam preservation era, the run having last been achieved by Tornado's fellow LNER Pacific type locomotive and national icon, No. 4472 Flying Scotsman, on 1 May 1968, with steam on British Railways having officially ended on 4 August 1968.
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