Motorcycle Racing


Anybody who has any interest in motor racing in this country will know that most of the major circuits in this country started off as airfields, Silverstone being the obvious example. However very few people know that Haddenham could well have become Britain's premier motorcycle racing circuit soon after World War Two.
With the closure of Brooklands to racing due mainly to the large number of aircraft being built there by Vickers, the British Motor Cycle Racing Club, (‘Bemsee’), was soon looking for a new circuit. One of its members was Guy Lawrence the Director of Chartair and he came up with the proposal of using Haddenham’s perimeter track for racing. Although narrow it was of a good smooth surface and had easy run-offs onto grass in the case of a competitor losing it on a corner. The proposal was snatched up and a number of meetings and other grander plans were made. Unfortunately from the word go residents of the local village made their objections known even to the point of calling those who might possibly attend "the scum and riff-raff of London". There were also objections to the fact that the meetings were to be held on Sundays, which was later to be one of the reasons for Haddenham racings downfall.


The first proper meeting was held on April 3rd 1949 although a little testing had been done the year before. This meeting was a huge success with some quoting crowds in excess of 40,000! There were six races in all with the winner of the 350c.c. race being none other than Geoff Duke on a Norton at a speed of 63.41 mph. Also racing was Jack Surtees who rode in the sidecar race on a Vincent H.R.D. ( 2nd at 56 mph).

Due to the narrowness of the perimeter track most of the field started off on the grass.
Note the distinct lack of barriers!

Harry Johnson remembers coming down with Geoff Duke and staying overnight in Thame and that Geoff beat Les Graham who was riding an AJS. George Ewer was the Sales Manager for G.K. Rae Ltd who had entered a ZR.350cc AJS for the T.T. races and came to Haddenham for the second race meet so that their rider, L.W. Parsons could get acquainted with the bike. George lived at Denham at the time and often practised at Haddenham and believes he beat the lap record at one time but the timing was unofficial. ( The official lap record was actually made by George Brown on a Vincent HRD during the May 15th Meeting at a speed of 71.59mph).

There were four national race meetings held during 1949 and extensive plans were being drawn up for the next year, but more vociferous complaints plus financial losses due to not being able to charge entry to a sporting meeting on Sunday’s soon led Chartair to become disillusioned. This led them to fall down on promises of widening the track and so they and the race organisers had a falling out and no further racing was done at Haddenham.
Evidence of these days can still be seen from the large entrance gates which still stand next to the A.418. Also there are the remains of an entrance tunnel which runs under the perimeter track to allow access to the centre of the track whilst racing was in progress. It was built just before the cancellation of future meetings. Although full of rubble and stinging nettles it is still in place!


In The Beginning




Glider Training




Ferry Pilots


Closing Down


Airtech Ltd


Motorcycle Racing


Arms Smuggling etc


Upward Bound

Acknowledgements, Bibliography, Links, Files Etc


©Copyright Peter Chamberlain, 2009, 2010, 2011