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FAY TAYLOUR

QUEEN OF SPEEDWAY



Published 2006 by Panther Publishing

www.panther-publishing.dsl.pipex.com


RRP: £16.99 plus p&p.


ISBN: 095479212 4 X


Hardback, 224 pages, 18 photos and illustrations



Author: Brian Belton


REVIEW BY JOHN HYAM

THE speedway career of woman rider Fay Taylour was limited to just three seasons, between 1928 and 1930. Then the Auto Cycle Union banned women riders after one of them fell off her bike and broke her collar-bone in a pre-meeting parade at Wembley.

Generally, a handful of women speedway riders were used by promoters as a promotional gimmick. Taylour, however, was an exception and raced regularly against the top men.

She was a special favourite at Crystal Palace, where a legtrail style of racing saw her record many fast times. She also regularly rode in match races against early male speedway stars like Ron Johnson, Sprouts Elder and Roger Frogley.

In the winter of 1928-29 she spent £500 to pay her fare to Australia and New Zealand where she appeared at several tracks. Her last British speedway meeting was at Southampton where she defeated another woman rider Eva Asquith in the meeting’s fastest time. Her speedway career ended abruptly when the ACU then banned all women riders.

Taylour switched to midget car and big circuit car racing for a number of years, an interesting and successful period that is scarcely mentioned. 

In 1947, Taylour tried to get back into speedway, with south London track New Cross and their East End rivals West Ham showing some interest in her. But the ACU refused to lift its ban. The author also mentions that she went to New Cross on a Thursday evening - which may explain her lack of success. New Cross’ race night was on a Wednesday - it was Wembley who raced on Thursdays.

And while on New Cross, there’s a mention of 1946 Rangers’ rider Phil ‘King of Crash’ Bishop, who Belton suggests finished his track career at West Ham. In fact, it was at Southampton in 1949 and early 1950.

Brian Belton’s book is supposed to be an insight into Fay Taylour’s brief speedway career. In analysis, her career was so brief, the book has to dwell heavily on her personal life, and on aspects of speedway that are in no way connected to the woman speedway rider. A main factor that constantly crops up is her inability to take a long-term relationship with a man but finding no rational explanation for this. 

I found whole reprinted wedges of her own views on matters completely unrelated to speedway or car racing boring. After speedway, she was involved in various types of car racing until well into the 1950s. For sports readers that is of more interest than her presumably failed love life.

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