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Book Review: Who Gates Wins by Jeff Scott

Jeff Scott is back with a second book devoted to the traveling circus that is the Speedway Grand Prix series. It's a follow up to last year's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Speedway Grand Prix, this time covering the 2019 season.

Scott is a vociferous critic of the SGP series, so many will be surprised that he devoted a second summer to following the events around Europe. It's quite a commitment in terms of finance and time, so perhaps he secretly enjoys it a little more than he'll admit?

There's chapter on each of the rounds, with the focus on the people, locations and happenings, rather than on the race action itself. Trying to describe races entertainingly is always difficult, particularly when many are run of the mill, so this is a sensible approach.

There are many tangents explored along the way, such as the soft furnishings in the Iversen household, the probable financial benefits of publishing a speedway world champion's autobiography and shoddy merchandise as exemplified by leaking snow globes.

The difficulty that the book finds is that the aforementioned Hitchhiker's Guide was already a detailed critique of the SGP world, so many of the observations will feel familiar to those who read the previous book. Many of the same characters are lampooned and the same eccentricities and foibles are highlighted.

It's inevitable that he'll cross paths with some of his targets throughout the season and these encounters lead to a couple of the funniest tales in the book. The prospect of sitting next to Scott on a flight was too much for one journalist, who went to hilarious lengths to engineer a seat swap. A chance meeting with a well-known sponsor in a hotel lobby was similarly awkward. Although Jeff wasn't quite arrested for stalking, the sponsor was alarmed about the monstrous amount that he knew about him.

Nobody writes about speedway in quite the same way as Jeff Scott. He takes an analytical approach, noticing things that others miss. He writes at length and in detail, in a style that's generally more broadsheet than tabloid, though he's never afraid to drop in any juicy tit-bits of gossip that he picks up.

Scott has been writing his books for many years now, so there's a good chance that you'll already know if his style works for you. There's not much praise for the Grand Prix organisers (past or present) in these pages, nor for many of those who earn a crust through their association with the series. There is, however, a deep rooted love for the sport of speedway and a clear frustration that it's not currently showcased to best effect.

Who Gates Wins can be ordered from the Methanol Press website.


This article was first published on 1st November 2020

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