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Wizard of Oz

Speed, modernism and the last ride of Wizard Smith

Clinton Walker

Wizard of Oz
In the bitter autumn of 1932, as the world crashed into the Great Depression, Australian motor ace Norman 'Wizard' Smith sat on the remote Ninety Mile Beach in far north New Zealand, waiting for the wind to change; waiting for a chance to drive his streamlined super car the Enterprise to a new world speed record. He would be the fastest man on earth - a golden god! He waited and waited ...

Norman Smith was an enigma. A contemporary of Bradman, Kingsford Smith and Phar Lap, he was dumpy and shy. But when he got behind the wheel he became the Wizard, his command uncanny, the speeds breathless. In league with engineer Don Harkness, who designed and built the Enterprise, he was pointing Australia toward a brighter future. Until somewhere along the line, things started going wrong.

What really happened on that lonely beach? Clinton Walker lays bare the tragic fall from grace of Norman 'Wizard' Smith - an ordinary man lost to an extraordinary quest, and, until now, a forgotten figure.

Praise for Wizard of Oz
'Valuable history well told.' - Sunday Mail

'This is a terrific book for automotive enthusiasts, but it's not just for them. Anyone interested in these extraordinary, forgotten slivers of our history will enjoy Wizard of Oz.' - Warren Brown, The Australian

'An enlightening biography.' - Rama Gaind, PS News

Clinton Walker is a writer Sydney's Sun-Herald has called 'our best chronicler of Australian grass-roots culture'. An art school drop-out and recovering rock critic, he was born in Bendigo in 1957, and is the author of seven books, including: Inner City Sound, his 1981 debut on the Australian punk uprising, finally back in print in 2005; Highway to Hell (1994), his internationally acclaimed, best-selling biography of Bon Scott; Football Life (1998), a personal history of minor league Australian Rules; Buried Country (2000), the highly regarded secret history of Aboriginal hillbilly music; and Golden Miles, originally published in 2005 and updated, through Wakefield Press, in 2009.

'Arguably,' as John Birmingham put it, 'the country's best post-punk writer,' Walker is an historian who finds stories where others don't even bother to look, in our own backyard yesterday. For ABC-TV, he was the presenter of late night live music show Studio 22 and co-writer of the hit 2001 Oz-rockumentary series Long Way to the Top. For SBS, he wrote the documentary film version of his book Buried Country. He produced soundtrack CDs for all three shows, and for the expanded 2005 American edition of Inner City Sound. 'Feverish in his search for motifs and connections,' as John Clare put it in the Sun-Herald, 'he packs more detail and reaches wider than his rivals.'

Walker lives with his family in Sydney and is currently working on a sequel to Buried Country, and a graphic novel about Lionel Rose.

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Format Paperback with flaps
Size 235 x 155 mm
ISBN 9781862549500
Extent 312 pages
Price: AU$34.95 including GST
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