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Don Cox’ Circus Life: Australian Motorcycle Racers In Europe In The 1950s

Submitted by on September 21, 2012

Circus Life

“Experience the highs, lows and scary hospitals – stories even the men who lived them reckon people would not believe.”

Motorsport Retro’s master of motorcycles, Don Cox, is back in a big way with his new book ‘Circus Life, Australian Motorcycle Racers in Europe in the 1950s’.

Featuring a forward by 1969 world 250cc champion Kel Carruthers and over three hundred, mostly previously unpublished, photos, the book chronicles forty Australians who raced in Europe from 1948 through to 1960.

It’s a tale of grand adventure as young riders take on Europe and pursue their dreams in the only way possible – by putting in everything they have and hanging it all on the line.

Circus Life, presented by Plimsoll Street Publishing Pty Ltd, will be in stock in the Sydney mailing house by the first week of October and is available for order by contacting Don at circuslifebook@gmail.com. Please include your mailing address.

Payment is handled by PayPal and the cost is $AUS99 plus $8 post & handling for books in Australia, mailed from Sydney.

The Story:

Which sport saw the first Australians compete behind the Iron Curtain? In the 1950s, which profession allowed a welder from Prahran and a toolmaker from Belfield to earn 15 times their regular weekly wage?

Welcome to the gypsy world of the Continental Circus private entrants – warts and all – with the joys, camaraderie, heartache, laughs and low acts. It was a time when rider usually had to be truck driver, mechanic, cook and start-money negotiator as well. And management help? You wish! In the 1950s, it was considered un-Australian to push your own barrow.

Travel with the young men criss-crossing a still rebuildingEurope, racing for a living – some on the road with their mates, others with their new brides. Drift a Manx Norton flat out with Bob Brown at Spa-Francorchamps. Learn the Isle of Man Mountain section with Maurie Quincey. Take on race organisers over starting money with Jack Ahearn and Keith Campbell. Cure an electrical problem with your teeth and mend a broken gear linkage with fencing wire. Cross the mine fields into East Germany, where one wrong move could put you in a gulag. Experience the highs, lows and scary hospitals – stories even the men who lived them reckon people would not believe.

The product of eight years’ research and writing, Circus Life goes far deeper than the typical ‘who won what and when’. It puts you on the grid at long forgotten public-road circuits like St Wendel and Hedemora; in the van trundling across Europe in high summer and behind the Iron Curtain on the oil-stained roads of Brno.

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