Australian Champion Speedway Rider Vic Huxley astride his Rudge JAP before the off, Wimbledon, 1933…

The caption notes Huxley as one of ‘the greatest exponents of broad-sliding around the track’.

‘Victor Nelson (Vic) Huxley (1906-1982) was born on 23 September 1906 at Wooloowin, Brisbane and attended Fortitude Valley and Kelvin Grove state schools.

Employed as a battery mechanic, he had been riding motorcycles for three years when a major bike speedway competition was introduced at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground in October 1926- he won the first event on the program, the One-Mile Handicap, and soon became one of the `broadsiding’ stars of the inaugural night races. He also won events at the Toowoomba Showground and Brisbane’s Davies Park.’

22 year old Vic Huxley at Wayville Showgrounds, Adelaide in 1928 (SLSA)

‘It was in these early stages of his career that he was bequeathed the nickname`Broadside’ by his growing number of fans. After success in Australia, including a stint at Adelaide’s Wayville Showground, he left for England in 1928 with a group of other leading speedway riders, including Frank Arthur to introduce the new Australian sport of `dirt-track racing’.

‘Speedway was a huge success in England and at one stage it was the second most popular sport, after horse-racing in the country. For many years London was its heart, and Australians—especially Huxley—were nearly always winners.’

‘To celebrate his victories, the Ogden’s branch of the Imperial Tobacco Co. (of Great Britain & Ireland) Ltd issued a `Vic Huxley’ cigarette card in their 1929 set of `Famous Dirt-Track Riders’. On the card, he was portrayed in his characteristic `broad-siding’ manoeuvre on the track. That year he was the subject of one of a series of articles on `Daredevils of the Speedway’ published in the magazine Modern Boy’.

Billy Lamont and Vic Huxley, Wimbledon, date uncertain (J Chaplin)

‘In June 1930 Huxley led an Australian team to victory in the first official speedway Test match against England. Unbeaten at this meeting, he was to become the most successful rider in Tests in the early 1930s. Captain of the ‘Harringay’ and then the ‘Wimbledon’ speedway teams, he won the Star Championship (forerunner of the world championship) in 1930 and next year became the British open champion.’

’He was almost unbeatable: he broke speedway records all over England; won eight major championships and also set and broke lap records at speedway tracks in Australia and New Zealand. His earnings were over £5000 per year, making him then one of the highest-paid sportsmen in the world. Members of the royal family and T. E. Lawrence were among those who congregated around Huxley’s team at the speedway.’

The two captains- Australia’s Vic Huxley and England’s Harold ‘Tiger’ Stevenson before the First Test at Wembley in June 1933 (Getty)

‘On 23 October 1931 at the register office, St Marylebone, London, Huxley married Sheila Alice Katherine King. He featured in numerous speedway magazine articles and books on speedway riding in England and Australia. When the British Broadcasting Corporation interviewed him in 1934 for its `In Town Tonight’ program, he became the first speedway rider to broadcast on radio. In the same year he won the Australian solo championship after being placed first in every event he entered.’

‘In his eleven years as a speedway rider on a range of different manufacturers’ machines, Huxley had only one serious accident.’

‘He left speedway racing in 1937 and opened the British Motorcycle Co. in Brisbane. Mobilised in the Militia as a lieutenant on 5 August 1941 he trained motorcycle dispatch riders. He was de-mobbed on 5 February 1945 and returned to his motorcycle business, retiring in 1957.’

’He kept few trophies and never sought any publicity. Despite being `bigger than Bradman’ in his day, Huxley remained throughout his life a modest and simple man. Three months after the death of his wife, he died on 24 June 1982 at Kangaroo Point, he was survived by a son.’

Huxley was a major sports celebrity in the UK with plenty of interest from the general press. Here he is cycling with his pooch ‘Raggles’, a Sealeyham Terrier, near his home, Wimbledon, May 1935

Etcetera…

(Getty)

Bill Sharp, Vic Huxley and Gus Kuhn before the start of a practice lap at Wimbledon in March 1935. ‘Huxley was testing his foot was in good enough condition after fracturing it last season’ the photo caption advises.

(Getty)

Vic Martin presents a silver Belisha Beacon to Vic at West Ham Speedway in May 1935. He has just covered a lap at 45 mph beating Tommy Coombs and Tiger Stevenson to the trophy.

For we colonials, a Belisha Beacon is an amber-coloured lamp globe atop a tall black and white pole which marks pedestrian crossing in the UK. Goddit!

(Getty)

Looking quite the man about town- Huxley arrives at Croydon Airport in time for the opening of the 1933 speedway season that April. The caption records travel travails before the age of the Dreamliner- by the liner Otranto from Australia before flying from Toulon to London.

Reference…

All of this article, with the exception of the photographs/captions is sourced from an ‘Australian Dictionary of Biography’ entry about Huxley written by Jonathon Richards and comprises either direct quotes or truncated elements of his prose.

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, John Chaplin Collection, State Library of South Australia

Tailpiece: Vic Huxley and Sprouts Elder, Speedway Royal, Wayville, Adelaide 1929…

(SLSA)

Finito…

Comments
  1. Nigel says:

    Another great speedway article, thanks.Regards Nigel

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Nigel,
      I’d never heard of the man, I tripped over the main photo by accident, the rest was easy given his fame in the day. Be in no doubt these top speedway guys were ‘rock stars’ in their day.
      Mark

  2. graham64 says:

    The Lamont and Huxley photo shows the “leg-trailing” style that was used in the early years of the sport.

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Graham,
      I know nothing whatsoever about speedway racing. It is amazing looking at YouTube footage at the time just how popular the sport was in the UK then.
      Mark

  3. Nigel McKeone says:

    Speedway is possibly the best, most underrated motorsport and especially today. Australia has had its fair share of World Champions and hardly any local Tv/news coverage of their efforts in Europe where huge crowds watch some fantastic spectacles on the dirt track. Only last year a Perth raised racer who now resides in England won the championship and previously an Australian won the title.
    I hope you don’t mind me sharing this link, if you have not watched speedway, you may enjoy it.
    As you say the riders in the 30s were treated as Movie stars.
    Regards Nigel

    https://speedwaygp.neulion.com/video/2019-boll-warsaw-fim-speedway-grand-prix-of-poland

    • markbisset says:

      Nigel,
      Thanks for the link and information. I have another couple of Speedway articles up my sleeve i’ll pop up in the next couple of months. I’ve only ever been to Speedway once- at Rowley Park, Adelaide in my mid-teens, which was a little while ago. I loved it!, don’t really know why i have never been back, have convinced one of my sons to see at least one Sprintcar meeting next summer.
      Mark

      • nigel says:

        I hoped you wouldn’t mind my reply recommending viewing the GP, look forward to more interesting articles, of cars too. Thanks

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