Book Review: Classic Speedway Venues
Here at Speedway Plus we've always been keen to bring you pictures of the world's speedway tracks, so we were delighted to hear of Philip Dalling's latest book - Classic Speedway Venues. Dalling is a well-respected speedway journalist and (to declare an interest here) an occasional contributor to this website.
Dalling set out to tell the story of the UK's speedway tracks, from both the past and present. To that end, he spent the early months of the 2013 season touring the country's tracks for research purposes. He's combined that new knowledge with his own extensive experience to produce this impressive new work.
Despite Philip spending months travelling the circuits, this isn�t a travelogue in the Jeff Scott style. It�s strictly about the tracks themselves, but his first hand experience definitely allows him to write from an informed view point.
The book doesn't intend to be a comprehensive guide to every track to have staged speedway, that ground having been well covered by Robert Bamford's Homes of British Speedway. Instead it covers a selection of the 200 plus tracks where speedway bikes have been raced.
The book runs to 144 A4 pages, all beautifully encased in a high quality hardback, complete with dust jacket. This book wouldn't look out of place on any coffee table.
The pages are beautifully illustrated by photographs taken at the tracks over the years. Many are bang up to date, taken during Dalling's tour of the tracks in 2013. Others were provided by some familiar names to Speedway Plus readers, including Peter Colvin, Brian Longman and Kathy Hitchen.
There�s a nice mix of modern stadia and great classic tracks from the past � for example the long demolished Norwich and Nottingham are followed by the modern Plymouth and Redcar circuits. This allows the author to write about the sport in both a modern and historical context, giving him a chance to compare and contrast the sport's fortunes over the years.
Speedway tracks are hosted in a variety of different types of stadia and this is reflected in the way the tracks are grouped together in this book. The groupings are National Stadia; The London Arenas; Provincial Greyhound Stadia; The Football Grounds; Purpose Built and multi-purpose respectively. The section on National Stadia is a fine reminder of some of the great stadiums in which bikes have been raced in an anti-clockwise direction.
For each track featured there is a brief history of the venue, some description of the facilities themselves, a few tales of times gone by and some of the author's personal recollections.
This isn't a book aimed squarely at the dedicated speedway historian, its appeal should prove much wider than that. There's something in here for even the most casual speedway fan, or for those with a general interest in sports grounds.
How to order:
£19.99 from Halsgrove Publishing
£19.99 from Amazon
This article was first published on 17th November 2013
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