DVD Review: History of the World Team Cup
Retro-speedway are back on the international stage in this new DVD - The History of the World Team Cup. Featuring race footage from many World Team Cups, this DVD is a magnificent chance to see many of speedway's greats giving their all for their country.
The World Team Cup ran from 1960 (after a successful trial event the previous year) right through until 2000. It then became the World Cup and was run by BSI in conjunction with their Grand Prix interests.
Understandably film from the 1960s is hard to come by, but throughout the 70s and 80s the meetings were frequently filmed in full colour and often with expert commentary from the legendary Dave Lanning.
The seventies were undoubtedly a golden age for British Speedway and this is reflected in the excellent results the British team enjoyed in the competition. Buoyed by the breakthrough of hot prospects like Peter Collins and Dave Jessup, the team dispensed with riders from other parts of the Commonwealth and tracked an all English team.
This team of young Brits took on and defeated all-comers in the 1973 final at Wembley, Peter Collins leading the way with a full maximum. This meeting is often remembered for the disastrous performance by new World Champion Jerzy Szczakiel, but this DVD offers an interesting insight into the problems he faced. Barry Briggs was on co-commentary duty that night and mentions that Jerzy's machine had suffered major damage prior to the meeting and had to be rebuilt with spares provided by Briggo himself. Perhaps we can belatedly cut Jerzy some slack for his lacklustre performance that night in light of this 'new' evidence?
That footage from Wembley in 1973 is one of the real highlights of the DVD. Lots of great riders, fantastic action, taking placing in front of the famous twin towers and all captured in good quality cover film. What's not to like?
The 1974 final from Katowice was another great one for the English Lions, John Louis leading the way with an immaculate maximum as they gather 42 points (their highest ever score in the final). Again there's colour footage of the triumph to be enjoyed.
It's not just the finals we get the chance to see either, there's footage from a good number of qualifying rounds thrown into the mix also. This gives us the chance to see England take on the likes of Australia, New Zealand and America as they try (and generally succeed) to reach the final.
One year in which England failed to make the big night was 1979 when New Zealand shocked the world by winning not only their qualifying round but the final itself. Ivan Mauger took great delight in that particular victory, after being marginalised by the decision to go with English riders only those few years earlier but eventually allowed to compete under his own national flag. Even today it's difficult to understand how the Kiwi team were good enough to win the title, the motivational skills of manager Barry Briggs must have been well to the fore.
This is very different from the 'memories of...' DVDs that Retro-Speedway produce, the focus here is definitely on the track action rather than on interviews. That's not to say there aren't interviews - many big names pop up to add a bit of colour, including Barry Briggs, Chris Morton, Norman Hunter, Michael Lee and Ivan Mauger.
Into the 80s and we see Michael Lee and Bruce Penhall battling in a fierce exchange as England complete one stage of that year's Triple Crown - team, pairs and individual champions.
The DVD offers another chance to watch many of the great American riders of the 80s, including on their home turf in the two finals that were held at Long Beach. The girls on the parade tracks make today's Monster start-line girls look like maiden aunts.
The mid to late eighties belonged to the Danes and we see their great riders making mincemeat of the opposition on more than one occasion. Studying the body-language the of Danes is also interesting, not quite the '...and all for one...' mentality of the Americans or the Aussies. Hans Nielsen looks positively uncomfortable when Ole Olsen puts his arm around him in celebration one year!
One World Team Cup final that will forever remain etched in many minds is the 1989 final at Bradford. We see the horrific crash that ended the career of Erik Gundersen, which to this day remains painful to watch. That England went on to win the meeting mattered little at the time and it remains a hollow victory for those involved.
The years beyond 1990 aren't given the same level of coverage as the preceding couple of decades. During some of those years the competition was merged with the World Pairs Championship and was reduced to two men teams. There is footage from 1992, 1996 and from the last WTC in 2000 (when Loram fell challenging Rickardsson in a run-off for the title) and it's interesting to see the likes of Tomasz Gollob, Henrik Gustafsson and Carl Stonehewer on the same DVD as the legends of decades earlier.
While lacking the immediate appeal of a DVD about your own particular club, there's enough here to interest even the most demanding speedway fan. Lots of great races, heaps of nostalgia and all packaged up into a quality production that lasts just over four hours.
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 28th September 2014
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