Just arrived today, my signed copy of the new graphic novel version of ‘Stealing Speed’ by Mat Oxley.
The original book is no longer available new except as an e-book, and second-hand versions change hands for silly amounts of money on eBay and Amazon. I was lucky enough to get a copy a few years ago and it’s an enthralling read. Part Cold-War thriller, part motorcycle history.
For those who don’t know the story, MZ works rider Ernst Degner defected to the West at the height of his battle for the 1961 world championship and sold MZ’s winning two-stroke engine secrets to Suzuki, while his wife and children were smuggled through the newly built Berlin Wall.
The following year Suzuki and Degner made history by winning the two-stroke’s first world championship and Japan was on its way to conquering the world of motorcycling.
It’s strange, I am a big fan of MZ motorcycles and the UK riders club continues to play a large part of my social life and the reaction of most of the club members I’ve spoken to is less cheering Degner for his escape from under communism and the subsequent thumbing of the nose by the Japanese, and more one of annoyance that he could do that to Walter Kaaden and the rest of his team mates and deprive MZ of their world championship. Not sure I can really blame the man for taking his opportunity for himself and his family, though.
Sadly, in the end it didn’t quite work out for him personally, and MZ as a racing power never quite recovered.
|Original book cover|
I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in that late 60s period and in motorcycles generally.
Mat Oxley's website can be found here
Mat Oxley's books can be bought from here