If you are of a certain age like me, you will probably have spent your childhood, youth and early adulthood watching Speedway, which was, at one time, more popular than football. No matter where you watched it, you will have seen a very distinctive Scotsman by the name of Bert Harkins race, rising to the top of his sport, both at home and abroad. Ian Kerr MBE reviews My Crazy Speedway World.
This book is the story of Bert’s life told in his own inimitable style. I have had the pleasure of knowing him for many years. His enthusiasm for Speedway shines. It just oozes out of the pages as he tells of his life broad-sliding around the world’s tracks, as well as at times reviewing the countries medical facilities!
His personality comes across in the almost chatty, self-effacing text, liberally spread with anecdotes and insights into the world of Speedway. As with similar autobiographies, you learn much more about the person than is ever generally reported in the press at the time; in this case, twice a qualifier for the Cycle Speedway World Final, a year of road racing, before even starting Speedway.
The book covers Bert’s entire career, from his early years beginning with the Edinburgh Monarchs, his time captaining the famous Wembley Lions before moving to Sheffield, and then latterly riding for the Wimbledon Dons.
Then add in his season racing in America with the Bakersfield Bandits, winning the US title, when being the first British rider to join the new American Speedway league to make a page-turning read.
It also includes his international outings with the British Lions, Scotland and the Rest of the World, as well as his time racing in Australia, America, South Africa, New Zealand and many European countries.
Life after Speedway is also covered with a look at his motorcycle parts and accessory business and his continued involvement with the World Speedway Riders Association and the Speedway Museum on the outskirts of London.
Like many of his ilk, Bert’s commitment and ambition ensured that he reached the very top of his sport riding with and against the greats, such as Barry Briggs, Ove Fundin, Ivan Mauger and Ronnie Moore to name just a few.
The 250-page soft-bound book published by London League Publications, are light on images, but what are there are priceless. Always one to ham it up for the photographer, many just make you smile!
Nowadays, so-called celebrities are writing their autobiographies in their twenties, having achieved very little in the grand scheme of things. Bert Harkins has been there and done it and packed several lifetimes into his time on this planet. Motorcycles and motorcycle sport has been and still is his passion (along with family) and long may it continue.
So, if you need motivating in any shape or form, get a copy of this book and enjoy the ride, you will not be disappointed; it will be £14.95 very well spent!
The book can be ordered from the London League Publications Ltd website, www.llpshop.co.uk for £14.50 including UK P&P.