Circus Life - Australian Motorcycle Racers in Europe in the 1950s
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the size and weight of this book, delivery to Australian addresses will be $15.95 by StarTrack Courier
Where could a keen Australian motorcycle racer go in the 1950s to get more racing with less travelling and be able to make a living at it? Europe beckoned and large numbers of Australians packed their leathers and headed north. Most worked in multiple jobs and all worked hard to raise the 1500 pounds ($3,000) they needed to finance the trip and pick up a new racing bike - that represented three times the average gross annual income for a working man in 1950. Having reached Britain - the first stop for most - they found that they could race virtually every weekend and would be paid starting money on top of any prize money they might win. compared with the few meetings they could race at in a year in Australia (5 or 6 was the practical maximum) with massive travel and no payment, Europe was heaven on earth for the Aussie racers.
Many travelled to Europe, most made a good living, some became works riders, others died. This huge book tells the story of the Australians who joined the Continental Circus. It is a stunning tribute to the forgotten men of Australia's motorcycle racing fraternity.
From the co-author of Australian Motorcycle Heroes 1949-1989 and the author of The Aussies & 2 NZ Blokes
Foreword by Australia's 1969 world 250 champion Kel Carruthers
Background on 40 Australians who raced in Europe from 1948 to 1960
Which sport saw the first Australians compete behind the Iron Curtain? In the 1950s, which profession allowed a welder from Prahran and a toolmaker from Belfield to earn 15 times their regular weekly wage?
Welcome to the gypsy world of the Continental Circus private entrants warts and all with the joys, camaraderie, heartache, laughs and low acts. It was a time when rider usually had to be truck driver, mechanic, cook and start-money negotiator as well. And management help? You wish! In the 1950s, it was considered un-Australian to push your own barrow.
Travel with the young men criss-crossing a still rebuilding Europe, racing for a living some on the road with their mates, others with their new brides. Drift a Manx Norton flat out with Bob Brown at Spa-Francorchamps. Learn the Isle of Man Mountain section with Maurie Quincey. Take on race organisers over starting money with Jack Ahearn and Keith Campbell. Cure an electrical problem with your teeth and mend a broken gear linkage with fencing wire. Cross the mine fields into East Germany, where one wrong move could put you in a gulag. Experience the highs, lows and scary hospitals stories even the men who lived them reckon people would not believe.
The product of eight years' research and writing, Circus Life goes far deeper than the typical 'who won what and when'. It puts you on the grid at long forgotten public-road circuits like St Wendel and Hedemora; in the van trundling across Europe in high summer and behind the Iron Curtain on the oil-stained roads of Brno.