A Very British Racing Documentary From 1960 And The 1958 NW200

Overworked? Stressed out? Wondering what it all means? Here’s Your Weekly Dose of Moto-(in)sanity to help you get through the day

Digital copies of old VHS footage often make for YouTube gold. Such is the case with this taped-from-the-telly compilation of two very British documentaries. The first, coverage of the 1958 North West 200, provides remarkable footage from one of the world's classic roadraces. The second, a charming bit called The Right Line, explains "the right way" to become a world-class roadracer.

In the '58 NW200, a field full of Norton Manxes makes hay beneath a steely Northern Irish sky. It's a real classic: black leather-clad racers (Bob McIntyre most notably), bellowing single-cylinder racers, bystanders wearing tweed and ties.

Bob McIntyre at the Isle of Man TT
Bob McIntyre at the Isle of Man TT.AP

Around the 13-minute mark, a separate film, The Right Line: An Introduction to Motor Cycle Sport, opens at the German Grand Prix at Solitude. Gary Hocking, Jim Redman, Carlo Ubbiali, and Kunimitsu Takahashi ("on one of the fabulous Honda Furs") line up on the grid. Narrated by TT winner Graham Walker, the short film explains how to become a roadracer with typical British pithiness: "For in motorcycle sport there is no shortcut to success."

As redolent of Britain in 1960 as Inspector Morse and his Jaguar Mark 2, the narrator is a bit chauvinistic and condescending. He's a bit superior about roadracing too. As he sees it, off-road racing is only a stepping-stone to the real challenge of the roads. The blokes at the Scottish Six Days Trials would probably have it otherwise.

Truly exceptional, however, is the brilliant onboard footage of McIntyre at Oulton Park; Hailwood, Surtees, and company at the Junior TT; and the conclusion of the GP at Solitude.

It’s a bloody good time. A little luck in YouTube scouring is all it takes to strike gold. As the narrator says, “And the best of British luck to you!”