DISMAL weather could not stop a leading engineering firm in Shoreham from kicking off its latest centenary celebration on Thursday morning (May 14).
Ricardo launched its epic, round-the-world relay race as part of a year-long extravaganza marking 100 years of innovation and design.
The two-month rally will see vehicles drawn from Ricardo’s first century being driven by teams of employees in a tour of the company’s various outlets across Europe, Asia and north America.
The Ricardo100 Global Challenge was formally started by the company’s chief operating officer Mark Garrett, who handed a ceremonial baton to engineers Richard Cottrell and Ben Hassett, the driver and co-driver of the first leg from Shoreham to the Ricardo Aachen Technical Centre in Germany.
Speaking just moments before the heavens opened, Mr Garrett said: “This event is a fantastic celebration of a century of achievement for the Ricardo company. It is also a reflection of the innovative engineering skills, hard work and dedication of its employees, and of their generous commitment to give something back to the communities in which they work through the charities for which they are raising money.”
Each team involved in the relay will be racing for charity, with good causes ranging from Cancer Research UK and Alzheimer’s UK, to Unicef and Great Ormond Street Hospital for children.
They will all drive vehicles of significance to Ricardo’s first century, ranging from electric and hybrid cars, a gas-powered truck, performance motorcycles and a McLaren 12C sports car, to a Le Zebre sedan designed by the firm in 1923.
Focusing on the heritage of the company, the rally route will also be taking in many of Ricardo’s global network of offices and technical centres as well as places of significance to the company.
Such landmarks include the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah where, in 1936, the Flying Spray took the world diesel land speed record, powered by an engine which Ricardo helped to design.
Residents and speed-junkies will be able to keep up to date with the rally’s progress online, by visiting http://ricardo100.com/tracker
Likewise, those wishing to sponsor teams can do so by visiting Ricardo’s website at www.ricardo100.com