A black office chair hunkers below a piece of corrugated iron next to a chicken-wire fence. Beyond are the yellow and blue hoardings of the Arena Essex Raceway. This is sport away from the multi-million-pound sponsorships and the satellite broadcasts and the popstar girlfriends. This is the domain of trestle-table tombolas and kids scrapping around in the gravel and OAPs with pin-badges on their caps. Welcome to speedway.
Writer and photographer Jeff Scott has been attending speedway events since he was a teenager in Reading, to watch riders on brakeless motorbikes skidding across the shale. “It’s noisy and thrilling but I’ve always been most fascinated by the build up to making it happen,” he tells Esquire. “It’s a real make-do-and-mend culture.”
For his new book, Strictly Shale: Circling British Speedway – which has already garnered praise from Sir Paul Smith – he travelled around the country to document the tracks, the riders and the dedicated fans: old, young and largely blue-collar. “It’s on the periphery of most towns – though Poole is as glamorous as it gets,” says Scott. “They have their own charms. I think people underestimate that.”
Here he talks through a selection of shots from the book, to give you a flavor of what Speedway is about. If you fancy swapping the prawn sandwich for a bap and a cuppa, this could be the sport for you.
Strictly Shale: Circling British Speedway (Methanol Press) by Jeff Scott and Rachael Adams is out on 24 July. methanolpress.com
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