Pitstop had the opportunity to sit down with Tony Loxley to discuss his latest book Speedway: The Bikes, the Cars and the Heroes of the Track...
What attracted you to Speedway?
I first was attracted to Speedway when I was very young. I used to go to the Speedway with my parents when I was just a little boy. We’d go to the Sydney showground – I suppose that was the late 60’s. The television coverage of the day back in the 60’s also illustrated my love of the sport. From there, Mum and Dad stopped going to the Speedway for a while and then in 1977 I saw an advertisement in the Parramatta advertiser about a new track at Parramatta that was opening called Parramatta Speedway. I guess a combination of seeing the advertisement, and seeing the TV advertisements and things like that did something inside me which I can’t explain! My enthusiasm was tickled right from the start and I knew that was going to be the sport of my future. I had always been a big rugby league and rugby union player and played a lot of sport, but girls and football are important but after a while it was Speedway racing that became all consuming!
Who are your favourite Australian Speedway drivers?
Garry Rush is always a driver who comes to mind when people ask me that question. I don’t think there has ever been a better driver in motorsport. He could do anything, and he did do everything. He was successful at everything that he did! Steve Brazier, Dick Britton, Billy Sanders on the bikes, Doug Tieman, Dog Robson in the sidecars, Grenville Anderson in the sedans, Barry Pinchbeck, John Fenton, George Tatnell – all those guys in the midgets. I had a multitude of drivers that I followed but if it was one particular driver it would be Garry Rush, but followed very closely by Steve Brazier. And of course everyone loved Peter Brock in road racing, but that is another story.
How did you go about writing this book?
I have written and published many books over the years. This time, I wanted to be involved with a major publisher to make sure we got this book out to the general media -- I needed to go with a company that had that expertise. So I sent an email to Alan Whittaker - who is a well known journalist and well known book writer - I sent him some covers and information on my previous books. We got together and had a meeting, and he liked what I had done prior. I showed him a copy of the Tasman Cup 1964-1975 and Ghosts in the Bull Pens - Speedway Racing at Sydney Showground, and pretty much straight away he said yes. The publisher loved the selection of images I gave them – and hey presto, we got a book on Speedway!
There are so many amazing photos’ in this book – where do you get these from?
A lot of them are from the photographers themselves. Some I have taken myself – I have been photographing since 1980 – makes me an old guy! The others were private collections, or collections I have accumulated myself. So from a variety of sources, but all of the images are absolutely stunning! I think we have a great selection covering just about every race track in Australia.
You’ve written so may iconic books- Tasman Cup 1964 – 1975, Speedway by The Freeway , Ghosts in the Bull Pens - Speedway Racing at Sydney Showground among others – what else is in the pipeline?
Well we just put out Caged Heat, which I am proud to say Woodslane is supporting us with their distribution. We want to do Part 2 -- Vern Schuppan. Talk about iconic, Vern Schuppan is one of our most famous race car drivers ever. He won Le Mans, and was rookie of the year at Indianapolis, and god only knows what else he has won! He has raced Formula One – everything! I was honoured to receive an email from him a couple weeks ago reaffirming that he wants to do a book with me in a similar genre to Tasman Cup. So lots of photographs, lots of memorabilia, not too much of a personal history, but basically told in an illustrative way. I also look to do Part 2 of Caged Heat because I really believe that this book, and the popularity of sprint car racing around the world at the moment will be a great success.
There are so many subjects out there that you can cover. The great thing about our books is that they are the perfect of photographs and captions. Let’s face it, today 60-70% of people prefer that. Reading is not what it used to be. Before there was television we were sitting in front of the radio, now we all sit in front of the television, or if you want to expand that, we sit and look through our mobile phones. That is what our lives have become! So books that are very similar to the way that we live our lives, through the television or our phones, will be very successful. In our books, the photographs are lavish, there are lots of them, and people seem to like that more and more! We’ve got a really good mixture there. In fact, I think we’ve got the perfect scenario for today’s books.
View Tony Loxley's publications here