DVD – Spirit of Speed

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by on July 26, 2014

“The Classic Era” of Australian racing

Australia’s motorcycle racing history began around 1901, when two unknown riders with primitive machines that were little more than bicycles with engines slung in them, decided to see who was fastest! Since then, motorcycles and their daredevil riders have formed an integral part of Australian culture. Introduced by former 500cc world champion Wayne Gardner, riding his prized 1925 Australian made Warratah.

Duration 71 minutes
PAL all regions


Buy DVD – The Spirit of Speed

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$34.95 (inc.P&H)

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 “Spirit of Speed” chronicles Australian motorcycle racing’s classic era, from the beginning of the 20th century to the start of the modern racing era in the mid to late sixties.  

Each chapter of this exciting story, told through rare film footage and photographs (much of which has been sourced from private collections), is enriched by insightful commentary from acknowledged motorcycle racing historians, Jim Scaysbrook and Rob Saward, and a host of motorcycle racing greats, including Australian champions Maurie Quincey, Bert Flood, Max ‘Atom’ Rathbone, Linsay Urquhart, Ray Owen and international speedway star, Neil Street.

“Spirit of Speed” examines various aspects of the evolution of the motorcycle and the inevitable pitting of these machines against each other in races. The film features the first velodromes and speed trials of pre World War 1, reliability trials, grass track, aerodrome meetings, speedway and scramble; and introduces the road and track meetings, which preceded the high-tech forms of racing we enjoy today. The efforts of Australians at the Isle of Mann are also covered.

A main feature of the film is the quality and quantity of stunning archival film footage, which includes Ballarat Park (1946), Fisherman’s Bend (1947), Phillip Island (1937), the Reliability Trial of 1936, Jack Booth’s speed trials of 1920, and Sydney Speedway (1945), just to name a few.

“Spirit of Speed shows how brave those early pioneers were – lunatics

So please journey with us, as we rediscover many amazing moments in Australian motorcycle racing history.


Editorial Review

Australian Motorcycle News SPEED DEMONS By Ken Wooton

Harold Parsons was a dashing daredevil, as well as one of Australia’s first professional motorcycle racers. He was also a lunatic.   That’s the only conclusion after watching Spirit of Speed, a documentary tracing the history of Australian motorcycle racing.   Harold wasn’t on his own though, with his compatriots of the day blasting around concrete speed bowls and along bumpy airstrips in pursuit of the same sort of adrenalin rush that today’s racers chase – but without the same level of protection via their riding gear.   Spirit of Speed concentrates on what the producer, Darren Jones, refers to as “The Classic Era” of Australian racing from 1901 to 1965, with rare footage and photographs featured throughout the 71-minute DVD. Spirit of Speed had its world premiere at Melbourne’s ACMI Cinema on 22 August, with a number of the stars from the documentary in attendance: Maurie Quincey, Bert Flood, Max ‘Atom’ Rathbone, Lindsay Urquhart, Ray Owen and Neil Street to name a few.     The documentary opens with Wayne Gardner ‘wobbling’ across the screen on his 1925 Australian-made Waratah.   “When I was racing professionally I guess my focus was on the next race,” says Gardner. “But since then I’ve come to appreciate the history. Spirit of Speed is a terrific record of where the sport came from.”   From Gardner’s intro the DVD meanders through a history lesson of Australian racing narrated via interviews with motorcycle historians Rob Saward and Jim Scaysbrook, interspersed with humorous and interesting anecdotes from some of the featured riders. Bert Floods admission that he doctored the carburettor on one of his racebikes before passing it on to the next owner is one of the more memorable admissions.   Spirit of Speed features the first velodromes and speed trials of pre-World War 1, reliability trials, grass track, aerodrome meetings, speedway, scrambles, and the specialised road and track meetings which have led to the road racing of today. The exploits of Australians who travelled overseas to race is also featured, and in particular their Isle of Man adventures.   The archival film footage of Ballarat Park (19461, Fisherman’s Bend (1947), Phillip Island (1937), the Reliability Trial of 1936, Jack Booth’s speed trials of 1920, Sydney Speedway and Melbourne Motordrome is eye-opening, and makes me glad I’ve been racing over the past 30 years, and not in the 1930s!   Spirit of Speed is not a film in the vein of The World’s Fastest Indian with mass-market appeal. It’s aimed at a narrow enthusiast audience, with those aged 50 and upwards likely to be the most enthusiastic audience.   However, snippets of the archival footage featured throughout the DVD is worth viewing by everyone with an interest in racing motorcycles. Spirit of Speed shows how brave those early pioneers were – lunatics.

Ken Wooton

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