DVD Review: Memories of Belle Vue Speedway - The Hyde Road Years
Launched to coincide with the start of the new era at Belle Vue, this double-DVD box set looks back on the glory days at Hyde Road. It's a four hour treasure trove of archive film, photographs and interviews. The magnificent "Tokyo Melody" theme tune plays over the opening and closing credits, an evocative piece of music that will immediately transport loyal Aces fans back through the decades.
Hyde Road was the home of the Belle Vue Aces from 1929 until 1987, so there's plenty of ground to cover and many legendary riders and meetings to discuss.
Early stars included Eric Langton, Jack Parker and Bill Kitchen. Interviews with all three have been tracked down and included. Langton shares some memories from the first World Final and his belief that he had a gentleman's agreement with eventual winner Lionel Van Praag. Parker's interview is illustrated by a marvellous selection of vintage photographs, while Kitchen tells us about the wartime speedway at Hyde Road.
The DVD highlights the remarkable statistic that 170 wartime meetings were staged and that not one of them was postponed or abandoned. Kitchen recalls that the same core set of riders would ride each week, supplemented by whoever was home on leave or who could be freed up from their war work.
The producers have benefited from the earlier work of Roy Nichol from Aces-on-Video who tracked down lots of interesting footage for his "Aces of Yesteryear" series. The best bits from those earlier productions have been cherry-picked and interspersed with other archive footage and newly recorded content.
An extended interview with Peter Collins is amongst the new and exclusive content. 'P.C' (looking well after his health troubles) started his association with the club as a fan, running wild on the terraces with the Morton brothers and his other mates. He shares his memories of watching the club's other famous 'P.C.' - the legendary Peter Craven - and other stars from the fifties and sixties.
After the post-war boom, new stars started to emerge and Craven was perhaps the greatest of them all. He was known as the "The Wizard of Balance" and he lives up to that moniker in the clips we see of him.
Ivan Mauger was the King of Hyde Road in the late sixties and early seventies. In audio interviews he looks back on this spell, the most successful of his long career, with great affection. He's captured on film at various stages of his career - riding for the Aces, returning to ride for Exeter and in his "Farewell to Britain" meeting in 1985. The film from that meeting allows us to see many of the sport's other legends in six-rider races around the famous Belle Vue circuit.
Other big meetings featured include the BLRC, the Golden Jubilee from 1978, the Northern Riders Championship and testimonials for Soren Sjosten and Peter Collins.
Collins himself progressed from young fan to teenage sensation and he discusses his career at length, often referring to his great mate Chris Morton, whose own career ran in parallel and was only slightly less successful. Morton, now playing a lead role at the new track, is also interviewed and we see his own thrilling track exploits on the DVD.
Expert opinion suggests that the best ever race at the track was the race-off between Peter Collins and Anders Michanek for the 1973 KO Cup. Unfortunately no footage of the race exists, but we do hear an audio commentary of the race, accompanied by a series of still photographs. The palpable excitement in the commentator's voice suggests that the magnificence of this races has not simply become exaggerated through time.
The legendary venue closed at the end of the 1987 season, the land having being sold to A.D.T Car Auctions. This was clearly a source of much regret for Collins, Mauger and Morton - though the money on offer was simply too much for Stuart Bamforth to turn down.
Thankfully Peter Collins was able to negotiate a move to the neighbouring greyhound circuit to keep the club alive. Perhaps in years to come a similar production will be made to cover the Aces' time at Kirky Lane? That circuit is presently unlamented, but perhaps history will be kinder to the 1988 to 2015 era in years to come?
How To Order
By Phone : 01708 734 502
By Post : Send a cheque for £16 (payable to Retro Speedway) (add £2.50 if outside UK) to:
103 Douglas Road
Online : At Retro-Speedway.com
This article was first published on 3rd April 2016
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