WIZARD OF OZ (2013)
“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… Instead of recounting Smith's life as a dry timetable of motoring achievements, Walker paints an intriguing portrait of a complex man whose life spirals from international greatness into controversy and, in the end, obscurity. It's this fascinating incongruity of dreary post-World War I Australia and the Buck Rogers science-fiction qualities of speed-driven automotive design that captures Walker's imagination” - Warren Brown, AUSTRALIAN
I seem to often do things in pairs. Football Life was a sort of companion piece to Stranded, and Deadly Woman Blues will be one to Buried Country. Similarly, Wizard of Oz, published by Wakefield Press in 2013, grew out of a small section of Golden Miles, about the between-wars Australian speed ace Norman ‘Wizard’ Smith and the pair of cars he built with engineer Don Harkness to ill-fatedly tackle the world flying mile record. The irresistible allure of this story, for me, grew into a broader fascination with the way modernism itself was shaped by the streamlined design of these incendiary speed-special cars. The book was researched mainly in the National Library, the NSW State Library and the Powerhouse Museum, and capped with a trip to New Zealand in 2009, to visit libraries there and go to the 90 Mile Beach in the far north, where the Wizard staged his ultimately unsuccessful world record bid in 1932. The book was again like Golden Miles co-designed by Jim Paton and myself.
“Acclaimed biographer-historian-music journalist Clinton Walker links the story of the Wizard to the rise of automotive modernism… As well as being a rip-roaring, detail-rich read about the Age of Speed, it brings in many of the big characters of the era and is beautifully packaged, with excellent photos and illustrations”
- Tony Davis, FINANCIAL REVIEW
“Exceptional” – John Connolly, AUSTRALIAN
The Wizard of Oz was launched with a party on the very site, in the very workshop where Don Harkness built the Anzac and the Enterprise, which is now a Barloworld Volkswagen dealership. Guest speakers were Pedr Davis, the grand patriarch of Australian motor writing, who was the last person to interview the Wizard and a great champion of the book, and Dianne Ottley, the only surviving descendent of either of the book’s main characters, the granddaughter of Don Harkness; the event was MC'd by Tom Morton. See photos: