Bangers and Smash

There are many ways to send a perfectly good car to an early grave, the most obvious is to give it to a company rep. Less apparent, but lots more fun is to take it to Haxenbury Airfield on the third Sunday of the month and enter it into a contest with the bargain basement Schumachers of East London. For here, on two miles of windswept concrete, the wannabe Formula One drivers of tomorrow pit their skills against each other practising the black arts of banger racing.

Haxenbury Airfield is at best a cold, desolate place. Geographically and economically juxtaposed between the burgeoning, commercial district of the Vale Enterprise Park and the old, now nearly defunct, Haxenbury Industrial Estate, it represents a sad reflection of the best hopes and worst fears of that greatest of decades, the 1950s. In the pantheon of ridiculous planning decisions, Haxenbury must rank up there with Birmingham’s spaghetti junction, Milton Keynes and the age-old decision to site the Capital City in the most vulnerable part of the UK.

Situated some fifteen miles from East London and marginally less accessible than the City of London airport, the airfield has no discernible commercial or military purpose. It must have been the fantasy of some long forgotten Alderman serving the adjacent market town of Holt-on-Corner to have an airport. Perhaps he or she believed it would enhance the status, prosperity and expectations of a town long over reliant on the twin pillars of rural life, the market and the public house. Whatever, the Alderman was wrong and Haxenbury Airfield suffered a graceless death in the early sixties, existing henceforth as a vivid concrete scar in the middle of rustic Kent’s timeless beauty. That is, until recently when some bright sparks decided to transform it into a Wide-Boy Imola with an Estuary accent.

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