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DVD: History Of Motorcycle Racing – 3 DVD Set

Submitted by on December 29, 2009

I have just finishing watching the Castrol History of Motorcycle Racing DVD set and it’s a ripper. It covers motorcycle road racing from the invention of the motorbike in the early 1900s through to the glory days of 500cc Grand Prix in the 1980s.

The DVD features fabulous historic  footage of early trials and off road racing, through to the the Isle of Man TT and then Grand Prix racing. There are some great interviews with two wheeled stars like John Surtees, Geoff Duke, Mike Hailwood, Barry Sheene, Kenny Roberts and Wayne Gardner to name a few.

Produced by award winning motorcycle film producer David Wood, it’s very comprehensive and would make a worth addition to any fans library.

Disc 1  – How it All Began & The TT

In How it All Began we see early road races in Britain and in Europe. Action includes Brooklands, racing in France and also the first TT Races in the Isle of Man. From solid tyres, beltdrives and pedal assistance to the outbreak of World War II, the film features fascinating pictures, personalities and machines.

Disc 2 Birth of the Grand Prix & The Japanese Arrival

In Birth of the Grand Prix, the film traces then 40-year history of World Championship motorcycle racing. The works teams of Norton, Gilera, Moto Guzzi, MV Augusta, BMW, AJS and others are featured.

The Japanese Arrival includes footage of early Japanese appearances in Europe and features for example, the 20,000rpm 50cc racers that screamed around the TT course in the early 1960s

Disc 3 The Other Champions & Pressure, Money and the Need to Win

In The Other Champions, the film cover racing classes other than the Blue Riband 500cc championship, such as the lightweights from 50cc to 350cc, and of course those terrifying sidecar racers.

Pressure, Money & The Need to Win profiles the the ultra-professional approach to motorcycle racing which has produced a new breed of rider who have to be as committed to the commercial aspects of the sport as they are to winning races.

The 3 DVD set is available from dukevideo.com for A$29.95

Castrol History of Motorcycle Racing — A second opinion.

It’s hard to quibble with an offer of three motorcycle DVDs for thirty bucks. But let a crusty old journo try anyway! After all, this package first appeared in the days of VHS video tape.

There is some great footage in here – sourced from various Castrol films through the years – including the tribute to Jarno Saarinen and the 1976 doco Focus 500. It’s footage worth seeing – particularly if you weren’t around in the days before televised GPs.

Back then, just about the only access motorcycle enthusiasts had to quality moving footage of GP racing was films produced by the likes of Castrol and Shell. These were loaned out for viewing on a 16mm projector at your local bike club.

Apart from that, you read whatever you could find and you looked at every picture three times. Blokes older than my 57 years listened to the BBC Isle of Man TT reports on ABC radio and perhaps saw newsreel footage of the TT at a cinema.

So, as an introduction to the history of the sport and an image of how it used to be, this package is fine. It’s perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

My problem is that the finished DVDs don’t do justice to the footage. They’re let down by the scripting, by errors of fact and the commentary missing truly interesting images.

There’s a sense this was a budget way to package the Castrol archive. Going the extra yard would have involved shooting new interviews with the surviving stars – with professional lighting and incisive questions – and shooting details of the surviving machines. There are plenty of those.

Even if this added effort pushed the unit price to $45, the package would still be decent value.

If you want to know a more complete overview of motorcycle in the BV era (before Valentino), look for a second-hand copy of the 1999 book Motocourse: 50 Years of Moto Grand Prix.

Don Cox

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