Drivers ready for the off at Gamston

A man holds aloft the flag ready to start a motor race at Gamston airfield.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 24th March 2013, 8:44 am
Archive Corner
Archive Corner

This week’s Archive Corner photo recalls the heady days of motor racing at the site.

Little did the drivers who crowded onto the airfield in the late 1940s and early 1950s think that planes would one day rule the runways again.

For, like so many other airstrips redundant after the Second World War, Gamston had become a mecca for car and motor cycle racing enthusiasts.

The roar of wartime Wellingtons was soon forgotten - replaced by the throb of Bugattis, Maseratis, Coopers and ERAs.

Drivers such as Reg Parnell, Mike Hawthorne, Dennis Poore and Bob Gerard became the new heroes of Gamston, along with Bill Bodice, Dennis Parkinson, Pip Harris and Bill Mundy, riding Norton, Vincent, Velocette and Rudge machines.

But Gamston was far from being dead, it was just sleeping.

In the 1950s, the RAF re-opened the base and Meteors and Vampires from nearby Scofton could be seen doing daily ‘circuits and bumps’ along the strip.

But as the years went by, the old airfield gradually fell into disrepair and the once busy runways became little more than a training ground for learner drivers looking for somewhere quiet to practise their three-point turns and reversing technique.

But with the approach of the Millennium, Gamston was once again given a new lease of life when a commercial airport was established, used regularly by business people and flying and gliding enthusiasts.

The base that had been home to 2,000 Australians awaiting repatriation at the end of the war, had come to lfe again.