The Royal Automobile Club is a British private club and is not to be confused with RAC, an automotive services company, which it formerly owned.
It has two club houses: one in London at 89–91 Pall Mall, and the other in the countryside at Woodcote Park, Surrey, next to the City of London Freemen's School. Like many other gentlemen's clubs in London today, the Royal Automobile Club now permits women to be members.
It was founded on 10 August 1897 as the Automobile Club of Great Britain (and, later, Ireland).〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Royal Automobile Club website )〕 The headquarters was originally in a block of flats at 4 Whitehall Court, moving to 119 Piccadilly in 1902.
During 1902 the organisation, together with the recently formed Association of Motor Manufactures and Traders campaigned vigorously for the relaxation of speed limits claiming that the 14 mph speed limit imposed by the Locomotives on Highways Act 1896 was 'absurd' and was seldom observed. The organisations, with support from the Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, had considerable influence over the forthcoming Motor Car Act 1903 which originally proposed to remove all speed limits for cars while introducing the offence of driving recklessly. In the face of considerable opposition a speed limit of 20 mph was retained in addition to the creation of the offence of driving recklessly, dangerously or negligently.
In 1905, the Club organised the first Tourist Trophy (TT) motorcycle race, the oldest regularly run motor race. The Club became the governing body for motor sport in Britain. King Edward VII's interest in motoring led to the command in 1907 "that the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland should henceforth be known as The Royal Automobile Club".〔 In 1911 they moved to the current address, part of the site of the old War Office; the club house was (and remains) one of the largest in London, with a frontage to Pall Mall of 228 feet and a depth, in the centre, of 140 feet. It cost over a quarter of a million pounds and is described in the ''Survey of London'' as "a polished essay in the late French Renaissance manner".
The RAC was responsible for organising the first British Grand Prix motor race at Brooklands, Surrey in 1926 and also runs its sister organisation, the MSA (formerly RAC MSA).
In 1978 during a re-organisation the 'Associate Section' was established as a separate company RAC Motoring Services Ltd, which was owned by the organisation.
In 1991 the RAC Foundation was split off as the research arm of 'RAC Motoring Services'. When RAC Motoring Services was sold in 1999 the Foundation was granted a legacy and was subsequently established as a charity to research and promote issues of safety, mobility, economics and the environment related to motoring.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=History )〕
In September 1999 members sold RAC Motoring Services to Lex Service plc, who renamed themselves RAC plc in 2002. RAC Plc was then acquired by Aviva plc in March 2005 for around £1.1 billion.〔http://www.racnews.co.uk/index.asp?pageid=13 RAC History〕
As of 2009, the membership subscription is £1,125 per year, with a £405-755 rate for younger members. The entrance fee is on a sliding scale, ranging from an additional £940 (for the youngest members) to £1,600 (for most members).〔
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