Speedway Fiction

Great stories for speedway fans!


Speedway Fiction

Great stories for speedway fans!



…is the only author writing novels specifically aimed at fans of motorcycle speedway racing.

Sadly, speedway in Britain today is very much a niche sport but it was not always the case. In the years between its introduction in 1928 and the war, crowds at dirt track meetings were huge and speedway riders were some of the highest-paid sportsmen. Again, in the 1970s, speedway enjoyed a revival in Britain and became what was described at the time as England’s ‘second most popular spectator sport’.

These are the periods in which Michael Hansen’s novels are set - when Britain was the centre of the speedway world.

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Earlier articles…

Heavens, the noise!

Cobble Street Speedway Star

Riddle of the Sands

Speedway Beginnings

Speedway Advertisements in 1929

THOSE of you ‘of a certain age’ may recall with fondness the BBC comedy, A. P. Herbert’s Misleading Cases. It ran over three series from 1967 until 1971 and starred Alastair Sim - in one of his rare ventures onto the small screen - as the mildly amused Mr Justice Swallow and Roy Dotrice as Captain Albert Haddock.

Captain Haddock had let it become a matter of principle not to let archaic laws interfere with the way he lived his life and, in taking on what he saw to be injustices, invariably end up having to defend his stance in court.

A P Herbert, otherwise Sir Alan Patrick Herbert, 1890 - 1971

A P HERBERT ON SPEEDWAY Heavens, the noise!

Alastair Sim as Mr Justice Swallow

The series was based on Herbert’s ‘Misleading Cases in the Common Law’, published in Punch magazine and later collected into the book Uncommon Law in which he highlighted and lobbied for the reform of several statutes he saw as being absurd or outdated. Herbert had obtained First-Class Honours in Jurisprudence from New College, Oxford, became an MP in 1935 and was knighted in Winston Churchill’s resignation honours list in 1945. He also had time to write eight novels and 15 plays.

Roy Dotrice as Captain Albert Haddock

In 1928, as the new sport of dirt track racing swept across Britain, Alan Herbert was one of thousands who witnessed it first hand at one of the capital’s venues. ‘What would someone of Herbert’s interests be doing at a speedway stadium?’ you ask. The answer is: ‘enjoying himself enormously.’

If that seems unlikely, we have it from the hand of the man himself.

Even as a spectacle the horrid motor-bicycle wins.  True, it does not jump hurdles, and true, there is not much beauty about the dirt-track; and yet it has a kind of modern, macabre, Stravinskian, Capekian beauty. The vast stadium by night, the track lit brightly at the rim, the sea of shadow in the centre, the mountainous black stands behind packed with a shouting, invisible multitude, the starry sky of London above...

Heavens, the noise!  It is like ten million mechanical drills performing in unison. It swells and falls as the riders take the corners; it echoes about the cavernous concrete halls, drowning the feeble acclamations of the crowd; it dies slowly as the riders stop, and the end of a race seems like the end of a battle.  It is titanic and terrible and monstrous; and yet in that enormous place, made by those monsters, it seems appropriate and right.  And I do believe I rather liked it.

A P Herbert’s Misleading Cases in the Common Law were collected into two omnibus volumes, Uncommon Law in 1935 and More Uncommon Law in 1982

West Ham Custom House Stadium in 1928

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© Michael Hansen 2014