The Airfield Circuits of Great Britain & Northern Ireland
The Tracks, Darley Moor to Full Sutton
Aerial photos and details of Darley Moor, Davidstow, Debden, East Fortune, Edzell, Elvington, Fairwood, Fersfield and Full Sutton airfields and tracks.
Ashbourne, Derbyshire | Track Length: 1.50 miles, 2.41 km | Direction: Clockwise | Track Used: 1965-Present
Opened in 1943, RAF Darley Moor was a training base, and following the war it was used until 1954 for ordnance servicing and storage. The site is still used as a civil training airfield.
It was opened as a motorcycle track in 1965, and continues to this day.
Darley Moor Aerial
Camelford, Cornwall | Track Length: 2.60 miles, 4.18 km | Direction: Clockwise | Track Used: 1952-55
Davidstow Moor was an RAF Coastal Command base, operational from 1942, and closed at the end of the war in 1945.
Motor racing began at Davidstow Circuit in 1952 on the layout shown below. In 1953 the circuit was shortened to 1.85 miles, and a chicane was added at the end of the main straight. This layout was used again in 1954, and finally in 1955, after which the circuit closed.
Debden, Essex | Track Length: 1.40 miles, 2.41 km | Direction: Clockwise | Track Used: 1962-65
RAF Debden was opened in 1937 and was initially used by RAF Fighter Command. The airfield was transferred to the United States Army Air Force in 1942, until the end of the war, and has since been used as a glider base, a radio school, and an army barracks.
The site was first used as a race track in 1962, and continued until 1965, when a competing car managed to spin through a fence and reach a public road. The cost of installing barriers, and concerns over using an operational airbase for motor racing caused it's closure.
East Fortune, East Lothian | Track Length: 1.65 miles, 2.65 km | Direction: Clockwise | Track Used: 1970s?-Present
East Fortune was established as a fighter and airship airfield in 1915, becoming an RNAS station in August 1916, and then an RAF station in 1918. In 1920, the airfield was closed and listed for disposal, but the site was reactivated during the Second World War, closing again in 1946. The airfield enjoyed a brief revival in 1961, when almost 100,000 passengers used it as an alternative to Turnhouse Airport which was closed for construction work. Since 1976 the site has hosted the Scottish National Museum of Flight.
I can't tell you much about the history of motorsports at East Fortune, other than that the track currently hosts motorcycle races and track days.
East Fortune Aerial
Edzell, Angus | Track Length: 3.00 miles, 4.83 km | Track Used: 1959 & 2004-Present?
Edzell airfield was first established during the First World War, and was disbanded in 1919. During the 1930s it operated as a civilian airfield, but the outbreak of the Second World War saw its return to service in 1940, as RAF Edzell. The airfield closed again after the war, until 1960, when it was used by the United States Navy as a tracking station until it's closure in 1997.
Edzell hosted a single confirmed race meeting in 1959, which gained virtually no publicity, as it happened during a national printing strike. When the US Navy moved onto the base in 1960, the racing was stopped. The track is supposed to have also held track days and motorcycle events since 2004, but this is unconfirmed.
Elvington, North Yorkshire | Track Length: 1.70 miles, 2.74 km | Direction: Clockwise | Track Used: 1962-63 & 1970-Present
RAF Elvington was originally a grass airfield, but it was entirely reconstructed with three hardened runways in 1942. In 1952 the base was taken over by United States Air Force who built a new 3,094 m (10,151 ft) runway, which was the longest in the north of England, with the intention of operating the base as a Strategic Air Command dispersal airfield. However the airfield never became operational as a SAC base and was abandoned by the US Air Force in 1958. Elvington retained its status as an RAF relief landing ground until it was finally closed in March 1992
There were two recorded race meetings held in 1962 & 1963, and in June 1970 Auto 66 Club held a Motorcycle Road Race meeting at Elvington, with a second meeting in September. The following season these were upgraded to National Status events.
Because of its huge runway, Elvington has hosted many land speed record breaking attempts, for a wide range of vehicle classes. Famously, or perhaps infamously, Elvington Airfield was the location of a serious crash involving the Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond, when the jet powered car he was driving crashed while travelling at 280mph (450km/h).
Gower Peninsula, Swansea | Track Length: 1.71 Miles 2.75 km | Direction: Clockwise | Track Used: 1952-54
Opened in 1941, RAF Fairwood Common was built on common land, and operated as a fighter station until 1949, when the site was decomissioned. In 1957 the County Borough of Swansea took over the aerodrome and Swansea Airport was officially opened.
Fairwood hosted a series of races between 1952 and 1954.
Diss, Norfolk | Track Length: 2.00 miles, 3.22 km | Direction: Clockwise | Track Used: 1951-52
RAF Fersfield, originally known as RAF Winfarthing, was opened in 1944, and was allocated to the United States Army Air Forces, but was transferred to the United States Navy for operational use. The airfield is perhaps most notable as the base for Operation Aphrodite, a secret and failed plan to use remote controlled bomber aircraft against German V-1 flying bomb sites and submarine pens.
Precious little is known of the track layout, with no contemporary diagrams, and a single scant description. Most sources use Peter Swinger's more recent suggestion in his book "Circuits - Then And Now". However, as far as I can tell from aerial photos, this would have required the cars to leave the tarmac and run across the grass at the end of the main staight, which seems unlikely. So the configuration below differs from that suggestion by sticking to the runway and perimeter road at the first corner. It's a guess, just like every other suggestion, but hopefully a more plausible one.
Full Sutton, East Riding of Yorkshire | Track Length: 3.20 miles, 5.15 km | Track Used: 1958
RAF Full Sutton opened in 1944 under RAF Bomber Command, before being switched to RAF Transport, and then RAF Flying Training Command. The airfield was then placed on care and maintenance until 1959 when it became a US nuclear missile site, operating until 1963.
The airfield was used as a race track for just one year, 1958, before the nuclear missiles arrived. Unfortunately, the remains of the northern quarter of the airfield and circuit were obliterated when a maximum security prison was built on the site, opening (if that's the right word) in 1987. Evidence of the western quarter of the track has also been removed and the land returned to agriculture. So, that only leaves us with half a circuit which we can accurately map.