In 1962 Gavin, along with a few close friends, decided to put leaflets out under car windscreen wipers, in the village of Longton asking for anyone interested in forming a motor club to attend a meeting in a local pub. Sure enough, a small group attended the meeting and in doing so Longton and District Motor Club became a reality. It was registered with the RAC in the autumn and primarily with Gavin’s drive and enthusiasm the club grew and developed.
Key personnel who helped him from the beginning included names many present members will not know – but Tony Bostock, Ed Hardman, and Ted Gardner were the ones under Gavin’s guidance and between them forged the future for the sport in the area. The black horse badge of the club came from the sign of the Black Horse pub on the Liverpool Road at Hoole, as a result of his moving our meeting place there, after outgrowing the original venue.
Gavin was the first Chairman of the club and saw it take on car shows, autotests and ‘plot and bash’ road rallies. His interest in the rally scene became a major part of his life. Clubs were clashing over dates so another idea of his was to form the SD34 Group of clubs to iron out the problem – it worked, and the Group is still going strong.
He also became involved with the Ford Motor Company’s efforts to encourage local distributors to run rally departments, and he was taken on to run the Thomas Motors of Blackpool efforts in this field. He also made it into F1 managing the Surtees team for a season.
Although Gavin had drifted away from being able to attend the Longton club he presented it with a superb trophy on its 21st birthday – The Founders Cup which is still presented annually to date.
Over the years Gavin diversified into different ventures including tile companies (those of you old enough will remember the ‘Lees for Tiles’ SD34 Inter-Club League) and agencies for powerboats, spending a lot of time abroad.
Gavin was a moving force behind the Longridge Motor Racing Circuit which was initially used for Karting. At Gavin’s instigation the track was widened and then used for sprints. His ultimate aim was to get full circuit racing there and this was accomplished when the RAC granted a licence to the track; initially entries were limited to 6 cars. Later entries were increased to 8 then ten cars with Formula Libre being a highlight. Finally motor cycle racing was allowed before the circuit finally closed.
Many of the Longton & DMC’s early members and officials learned a great deal from Gavin and the organisation owes its existence to him. His funeral will be held at Lytham Crematorium on Monday 11th February, followed by lunch at the Ship Inn at Freckleton. Longton & DMC will be making a donation to the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, Royal Preston Hospital.