Speedway!

One of those awesomely crazy types of racing that really should have been popular in the US, but for some reason never caught on (even though rumor has it the sport may have been invented in the US back in the very early days of motorcycling). It’s such pure motorsport — engine, frame, wheels, rider — going all-out on a rough track inches away from other riders.

Of course, the bikes do look a bit wimpy, so that may be why Americans were more drawn to Dirt Track as the burly he-man version of the “go fast, powerslide, go fast” style of racing.

In the UK though, Speedway is big. Back in the post-war years Speedway was so big there were dozens of weeklies covering the events. Speedway News, Speedway World, The Broadsider, Speedway Gazette, the list is pretty amazing.

So, why am I writing about Speedway? Well, back in the 1940’s some kid must have been crazy about Speedway because he created the massive scrapbook you see here. Measuring nearly two feet tall and full of about 100 pages of stories, photos, and autographs, it’s an amazing compendium of the sport. It is also a school in proper moto journalism. The writing is wonderfully precise, honest, and just a bit lyrical. It makes me ache for the days when print news was king.

We acquired the book from the estate of a racer who competed in the Portland flat-track scene back in the day. This acquisition was a bit of an afterthought, we’d gone there to purchase a couple of bikes from his widow and happened to ask at the last minute if she had anything else moto-related she wished to sell. A rummage through a dangerously full closet elicited a cool old helmet and this book. No one knows how it ended up on this side of the pond, but we’re very glad to act as its caretakers for now.

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