New Speedway Novels
Details of some new speedway based novels by author Michael Hansen.
Going Back (ISBN: 978-0-9574214-0-0)
BRITAIN has entered the last twelve months of Harold Wilson's premiership, inflation is running at almost 25 per cent, the IRA has mounted another bombing campaign on the mainland and Manchester United are winning promotion back into Division One of the Football League.
The year is 1975 and London is the capital city of the speedway world. Nineteen year-old Joe Barnes, beginning his first full year in the Gulf British League, wears the number seven race jacket for Wimbledon Dons. He and his childhood friend Rick Tyson are living a dream. Throughout that hot South London summer, the fast-gating teenager and his talented mechanic will learn their trade.
From Exeter to Belle Vue, from Saddlebow Road to Eskilstuna, Joe will find that the world of speedway is made up of a rich kaleidoscope of characters: some are the salt of the earth but there are those he will hope never to encounter again.
The young East Londoner will befriend Bill Baxter, who rode in the first ever speedway race, fall for Mary, the TV researcher who will get him his first big break, come to the aid of flatmate Tony, the slowest gater of the Hackney Hawks, and watch in tears as Rick lies dying in a pool of blood on a London street.
A whirlwind first season that will take him from the Weslake works at Rye to the studios of London Weekend Television, is one Joe Barnes will never forget. Who can blame him for Going Back?
Escape to Plough Lane (ISBN: 978-0-9574214-1-7)
ONE of the highlights in the early part of the 1976 season is the visit of a team from the USSR. These riders from the Communist Bloc are rare visitors to Britain, with their old-fashioned black leathers and their two-valve Jawa bikes.
For Nikita Baranov, one of the youngest in the Soviet side, it is a dream come true. He longs to ride against the best in the world and to taste the freedoms of the West. The problem for Joe Barnes is that Nikita is not going home. Defection, Cold War intrigue and the ruthlessness of the Soviet authorities make for a breathless and danger-filled start to the season ...
Black Lightning (ISBN: 978-0-9574214-2-4)
At the end of the 1976 season, idly rummaging in the workshop of veteran Australian Bill Baxter, Joe Barnes discovers a set of diaries written by Britain's first black speedway rider. Sam Richards came to England in 1948 on the S.S. Empire Windrush in the first wave of immigrants from the West Indies. But why hasn't Joe heard of him? And where is he now? Bill explains that Sam got caught up in the events of 1958 when West London erupted in what became known as the Notting Hill Riots. He was convicted of murder and sent to prison. Although he should have been released by now, Sam had been killed in a prison disturbance some years ago. Was it just a tragic end to a promising career that began at New cross and ended at Wimbledon?
Getting to know Sam through his diaries, Joe is far from convinced that things were quite as they seemed. Could the real tragedy be that the young Jamaican had been the victim of a miscarriage of justice?
Driven by the certainty that something is wrong, Joe has to look beyond the diaries to the characters he meets in them. To Sam's only living relative, his sister Dorothy; to Lloyd, whose squalid room he shares on first arriving in England; to Lennie, the teenage Teddy Boy whose body was found in Sam's flat; and to Morris Archer, veteran racer who still runs the motorcycle shop where Sam worked.
But at a distance of almost twenty years, is it too late for Joe to discover the truth?
This article was first published on 30th September 2012
"Brilliant books - the right mix of social history and speedway. Essential reading for Dons supporters especially. "
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