Art Lesson in the Coventry Trackshop
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A fully revised and updated version of this blog entry now appears in my new paperback book Shifting Shale (Methanol Press £20) published in June 2007.
All my blog entries from 2006 are included in this book along with many other accounts from my travels that I withheld from the blog. These include the SRA Dinner, Brighton Bonanza, Riding with the Ref’s at Sittingbourne, the Corduroy Revolution at Reading and many, many more!
A fuller description of this book is below
Shifting Shale: 2006 A Race Odyssey
Like the modern-day gladiators of motorcycle speedway, author, observer and minutia obsessive Jeff Scott goes round in circles, Shifting Shale – just like his fearless heroes.
Only the shale he is shifting is not the pinky gloopy stuff which adorns the tracks in the rundown stadiums of broken dreams but his masterwork – a 320,000 word analysis of what once was “Britain’s second largest watched sport” (after football).
Entitled Showered in Shale, this epic tome published early in 2006 received plaudits like no other speedway book and, taking his author role seriously and ignoring the edict of one who said “I’d like to write and be published, but I couldn’t bear the endless rounds of book signing”, he sets off around the tracks once more to ‘press the flesh’, meet his public and most importantly, sell some books.
So, not only is this another unique speedway observational book – but a book that will appeal to anyone who has promoted their own work. Scott sets up his stall in the shadows of these mostly decaying yet hugely attractive full-of-triumph-and-tragedy corrugated arenas to sell his wares. His only weapons are charm, humour and unsold volumes.
And it is mostly from this table-side vista a freshly askew insight into the joys of watching four riders race four laps on an uncertain surface on a methanol guzzling 500cc two wheeled monster with no brakes. It’s a spectacle that defies logic insomuch as firstly, four riders try to squeeze into the first bend when there is only space for one and secondly, to turn each corner, the rider actually accelerates and steers to the right. Although he’s turning left …
Which, in effect, is the power of this new book – built as a blog, but now read as a book. Reading Jeff Scott, there are no brakes. To stop, you have to throttle off and put your foot down. But the buzz is so captivating, it is a very hard thing to do.
And when he leaves his tableware to the elements and wanders into the pits, the bar, car park, centre green or up to the referee’s box, once more, you are actually there.
Elsewhere, he enjoys being a guest of Sky Sports at the prestigious Speedway Riders Association end of year bash, a day astride an actual speedway bike at Sittingbourne Speedway, comparing sales figures with legendary former riders, hobnobbing with riders on the Isle of Wight ferry and even spending the night sleeping with two speedway riders at the Norfolk Arena …
It’s dafter, funnier, deeper and a ‘must have’ companion to his masterpiece Showered in Shale, and his other books – the hilarious When Eagles Dared or the poignantly photographed Shale Britannia.