DVD Review: Speedway in the 80s
Following on from their recent Speedway in the 70s DVD, the good folks at Retro-Speedway have turned their attention to the 80s in this new production.
Each season is covered in chronological order, though not all are covered in the same level of detail. In particular there's very little on 1987, in truth an unremarkable year save for the two-day World Final in Amsterdam. By contrast 1982 is well served with footage from the LA coliseum, the World Pairs from Liverpool and Joey Owen's NLRC win.
Owen was one of the National League's biggest stars in the early 80s, his domination only coming to an end when his career was ended through serious injury in 1985. This film allows us to see him in action one more, including a great battle with Ivan Mauger during Joe's testimonial meeting at Newcastle. We also see him in the colours of the Ellesmere Port Gunners, taking on the Berwick Bandits at Berrington Lough. These kind of clips will appeal to those who spent the 80s watching lower league action.
There is (in general) more focus on the early eighties, a genuinely more exciting period in the sport's history. The Danish domination of the world racing scene in the later years partly responsible for this. Erik Gundersen was a major part of this and his horrific crash at Odsal is included, along with footage showing how he battled back to health. Truly inspirational stuff and a timely reminder of just how dangerous the sport can be.
Interestingly the quality of the footage actually seems to decline over the course of the decade, the television quality pictures giving way to lower budget production companies by the end of the 80s. An indicator of the massive decline the sport experienced over these years. The 80s did see the beginning of the home VHS revolution, opening up many new sources from which the producers could find track action.
The wide variety of footage available means that this video is less reliant on 'talking heads' and photographs than some of Retro-Speedway's other productions, though these are still used to good effect throughout.
It's difficult to think of a decade in which the sport endured so much tragedy. The deaths of Kenny Carter and Billy Sanders in particular casting a shadow over the sport. Both are covered in this DVD, including the news bulletin that reported the tragic events at the Carter family home on May 20th 1986. Those who perished in track crashes are also mentioned � from high-profile deaths like Denny Pyeatt to novices like Mike Walsh. A nice touch.
This DVD is targeted squarely at the nostalgia market and it will bring back memories of some of the sport's long-forgotten controversies. The 1981 Overseas Final when Penhall sacrificed his own chances of winning to allow his compatriots to progress; the 1984 test match between England and USA when Michael Lee's toys came out the pram due to the new starting regulations and Billy Sanders incredible rant at the fans after the 1983 Australian final. The race fixing allegations from 1984 are also addressed, though the successful defence used by the riders at the time is rather exposed by some of the revelations contained in this film.
Running to more than four hours, this double DVD will appeal to all speedway fans. There's plenty of great racing action, informed comment from those that were involved and just enough nostalgia to transport you back three decades.
How To Order
By Phone : 01708 734 502
By Post : Send a cheque for £16 (payable to Retro Speedway) (add £2.50 if outside UK) to:
103 Douglas Road
Online : At Retro-Speedway.com
This article was first published on 18th November 2012
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