Devotees of speedway literature owe a lot to Norman Jacobs for reviving speedway literature with the assistance of Tempus and new technology. However the genre largely consists of club histories and rider biographies, with a few exceptions like John Berry's "Confessions...".
Now we have something completely different. The nearest comparison is with Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch" (a book I loved, despite having little interest in football, because it so clearly portrayed the obsession of the fan). But whereas Hornby's book deals with his own obsession Scott's book is only partly about his own interest. What this book is really does is paint a picture of all those who love the sport: the fans, promoters, referees, track staff, riders' wives.
The book doesn't always paint a favourable picture of our sport (decaying stadiums, sparse crowds, an ageing fan base), but helps articulate why we have a relationship with the sport. And in many cases it is an obsessive one!
Except for a few controversial incidents the racing takes a back seat. More typical are the observations of the minutiae. (For example the author's encounter with world number 2 Greg Hancock in Tescos with its musings on the contents of his shopping basket.) Above all though it recounts conversations (some formal interviews, but mainly casual encounters) with the people who make speedway tick. This is speedway how I feel it.
Ultimately this is social observation. Whatever speedway looks like in 30 years time it will undoubtedly have changed (or died out if it hasn't adapted). For anyone in 2036 who wishes to understand those changes and get a real feeling for what speedway used to be like in 2005 then this will be a must to read.
This book looks at speedway in Britain from a fresh and interesting perspective. Jeff Scott travels to each speedway track in the UK and shares his observations on the places he visits and people he meets. He reproduces, seemingly from memory, many of the conversations he had and these offer some amazing insights into the sport. Scott seems to model himself somewhat on Louis Theroux, he plays the naive interviewer who draws more from his subjects than they might have preferred to give away. It's not difficult to imagine some people cringing when they see their casual asides reproduced several months later in such an enduring form. The most interesting characters in the book tend to be those on the fringes of the sport, those involved in casual duties or who attend purely as spectators. They seem to be more willing to offer an honest comment than the riders and promoters who, with some notable exceptions, seem rather more cautious in what they'll say. I can't recommend this book highly enough, it makes for excellent reading in the present day and will perhaps be of even more interest as a historical piece in future years.
This is probably the best speedway book ever written, it's definitely the best speedway book I've ever read. Part travelogue, part social comment Scott digs deep into the aspects of speedway that are all too often ignored in the usual autobiographies - the people who keep the sport alive, the communities that speedway tracks exist within and the pure enjoyment that can be found in the spectacle of four men, a dirt track and 4 powerful motorcycles with no brakes. Whether it's a rained off meeting at Sheffield or a chance encounter with a world champion in a supermarket queue Scott conveys the enthusiasm of a fan, the attention to deatail of an obsessive and the humour of the terraces. Speedway has been waiting for a book like this for years, embrace it and treasure it!
May I recommend this book by Jeff Scott to you all.
It is a simply fascinating and unique observation of the current speedway scene in Great Britain, described with a unique and entertaining use of the English language.
Descriptions of the various locales and communities in which the tracks reside add valuable social background. The praise and acknowledgment of the often unseen efforts of the people involved at the tracks is the most endearing for me. These good people rarely get the praise they deserve in ensuring the sport continues. Their views, along with the supporters views also included, are very entertaining. The riders who risk life and limb providing us with entertainment and the promoters viewpoints are, as always, very interesting.
I feel it is a most noteworthy and colourfully described account of the social infrastructure of speedway in Great Britain in the current age.
I cannot find anything I don't like about this book, it is simply a pleasure to read.
Congratulations to Jeff, and I hope his efforts get the just reward they deserve.