Van Dyke Picture Corporation (UK - 1947)

This documentary, simply entitled Speedway, was one of the last films to be directed by Sam Lee who, according to the British Film Institute, died in 1951.

In addition to covering a meeting between Wembley and Bradford Odsal, it afforded a unique look behind the scenes at the way a major speedway club was organized in the 1940s. It was a major undertaking that can only really be compared with the way a modern Premier League football club is run today.

We see the gymnasium and physiotherapy facilities provided for the riders - who were the highest-paid sportsmen of their day - the workshops, the vast administrative machinery, the recruitment of riders, the maintenance of the race-track and the organisation needed to cope with the tens of thousands of spectators who turned up every week.

This film is truly a reminder of the tour de force that speedway racing in Britain used to be.

Gerry Wilmot

The instantly recognizable commentary voice in the film was provided by Gerry Wilmot. Born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada he is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's fastest sports commentator.

Wilmot began his broadcasting career as an Ice Hockey commentator on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. During World War Two he was a CBC war correspondent from London for which he was awarded an MBE.

In 1944 and 1945 he compered a number of Expeditionary Forces variety and music programmes. Wilmot worked on Radio Luxembourg in the mid-Fifties before moving to the island of Bermuda where he was involved in the management of one of the local television stations.

From there he went to Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) where he worked for the Independent Television Company which was owned and operated by Richard Meyer’s group and a sister to LM Radio. In 1962 Gerry moved to LM Radio to replace Rob Vickers who had moved to Johannesburg. When LM Radio closed, Gerry was one of several Radio Club employees who were absorbed by the SABC and he became a music programme compiler on Springbok Radio. He died in Johannesburg in 1978.

Biography courtesy of Lourenco Marques Radio

Speedway at the MOVIES SpeedwayFiction Speedway like it used to be! Home 6 SpeedwayFiction presents a unique look at speedway life in England just after the war

A packed car park as tens of thousands turn up to the old Twin Towers

Superstars of their day, the riders are  pampered like today’s football heroes

Administration dealt with the club’s fixtures, rider trials and contracts, correspondence from the 50,000 registered supporters and a host of other matters

In the well-equipped workshops, the machines were cosseted almost as much as their riders


The film also gives a brief but rare and precious glimpse of one of London’s bomb-site cycle speedway tracks. If you watch carefully, you can even spot a London Transport tram moving off in the background during one racing scene.

Even in the days of crushed cinders, track maintenance was a painstaking and time-consuming business for an army of dedicated staff.

Split Waterman watches the racing before he takes his first ride