And The Wheels Went Round

BOOK  REVIEW  by  Roy and Chris


This book, written by John Chisnall and Anthony Davis, was first published in 2019.  I saw it advertised in a vintage club magazine and, looking at the front cover, I decided to buy it.  What a great read!!  The motorcycling part of the book starts in the mid 1950’s with John getting a ride as passenger in a grass track chair.  He went on to be a first class passenger; and he even passengered for Florian Camathias, one of the really great sidecar riders of the time, when his regular passenger was injured.

For me this book was a real “blast from the past”, having actually seen several of the racers mentioned in the book in action on the track.  Things were different in those days; if you had a Ford Thames van you took this along to the race meetings and then you slept in it if necessary – it was much more “make do and mend” then.

What became known as the “Continental Circus” in the 1950/60’s consisted of a loose band of riders, partners and friends riding around Europe, attending race meeting hoping to win some money or perhaps to be given some start money.  This circus lasted for several months, but many of these riders were racing and living on a very tight budget.  Some of the better-known names in the circus were Jim Redman and Hugh Anderson.

John also raced solos; at one time he was racing a BSA Bantam with a 125cc engine.  This sort of bike was used by the Post Office for their telegram delivery boys to ride; if you got 50 mph out of one you were going well!!   John’s little bike was tuned and he was timed at 96 mph on the Norwich Straight at Snetterton

This well written book – humorous and with loads of pictures and anecdotes.  With all racing there can be exciting moments and plenty of them are recalled in this book.  It is about the memories of riding at home, in Europe and also at the TT.  John, now in his eighties, is still riding and in 2018 he rode to France. 

It is well worth a read,

This book can be obtained from Bear Alley Books’ website.