Book review: Speedway in the raw

Book review: Speedway in the raw

Speedway racing in Australia in the 1970s went through great change, with sedan racing coming to the fore and speedcars retreating. Then at the end of the decade a new force emerge - sprintcars.


It was also a time of gritty Australia versus England bike Test matches, mad three-wheeled sidecar racing, and a growing professionalism across the sport led by the entrepreneurial and imaginative Mike Raymond at Liverpool Raceway.

Today, the 800-horsepower sprintcars still dominate. Bikes are battling locally, even though Aussie Jason Crump is the reigning (and three-times) world speedway grand prix champ

This spectacular growth time in the sport has been captured by Tony Loxley in a new hard-cover book, Full Throttle, which Raymond has generously described as the best publication on local speedway ever published.

Sub titled Images of Australian Speedway 1970-2009, the book extends to 272 pages of glossy A4 horizontal-sized paper. The memories of crazy characters and raw courage - and sometimes silliness - leap out of every spread.

Though, with 600 photos included, the book purports to be largely pictorial, there are also some 118,000 accompanying words in the form of forewords from Ivan Mauger, Barry Graham and yours truly, plus in many cases lengthy captions that tell the story behind the pics.

A mild criticism is that some of the beautiful images deserve to be run larger than allowed by the three-to-a-page format widely used. But Loxley says he wanted to get as many of the photos into the book as possible.

In colour and black-and-white, Full Throttle is published by Renniks and is available from all good bookstores at a cover price of $74.95.

Loxley, a superb photographer, is responsible for some of the more memorable images between the covers. But he is the first to give credit to the work of others led by David Cumming, who shot at Liverpool for many seasons.

Loxley has taken up the challenge of preserving speedway's rich and diverse history in a tangible way. He collects so much that needs to be retained in the sport, and Full Throttle represents much of what could easily carelessly disappear in a bin to the local tip. He's not stopping here either.

Loxley is already well advanced on his next historical tome, The Place of Pace - Liverpool City Raceway 1967-1989, another mainly pictorial collection highlighting the popular Sydney suburban oval track which attracted everyone from Gough Whitlam to AJ Foyt.

Loxley is interested in colourful stories or memorabilia from competitors who rode and drove at LCR to enhance the upcoming 250 page book which covers the operating life of one of Australia's most successful motor sporting venues. Contact the author at tloxleyspeedway@internode.on.net

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