film - tracks of glory

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Tracks of Glory, based upon the book Major Taylor in Australia, premiered as a telemovie on the Disney Channel in February, 1992. The full miniseries was shown on ABC Television (U.S.) in June, and in Australia in July, then subsequently in other countries.

Principal photography began in May, 1991 in Adelaide, Australia.

Major Taylor and Don Walker, Australian Champion, Sydney Cricket Ground, January, 1903

Phil Morris, Richard Roxburgh and Jim, when mobile phones barely were

Jim discussing how he came to research Taylor's life. Video by John S. Allen

Marshall W. 'Major' Taylor (1878-1932) broke the American racial barrier in professional bicycle racing in 1896. He was crowned cycling's World Sprint Champion three years later.

The fifth-mile, lit, Melbourne cycle track at the Exhibition Ground, circa 1900

However, in 1904 Floyd MacFarland (lower left), a vindictive racist , went to Australia to confront him.  He brought with him Iver Lawson, another racist, who would win the World Championship six months later in London. 

Taylor, Lawson and MacFarland produced the single most amazing and controversial series of cycle races in the history of Australia. In 1904 the three fought out racially charged battles before capacity crowds.

During that summer Taylor suffered the most severe injury of his career; had a nervous breakdown at the end of it; did not race again for three years, though at the peak of his career; and effectively never again raced in America.


 

Jim with Jan Brown, Major Taylor's great-granddaughter, Worcester, Massachusetts, June 2011

Jim talks about Major Taylor's career. Video by John S. Allen

Because of his race as well as his talent, Major Taylor consistently attracted larger crowds than any other cyclist in the world. Taylor was big business in his own right, and was the highest paid and most famous athlete in the world's most popular sport at the time.

The world's richest bicycle race was created in Australia to get him Down Under in 1903. Free of the racial problems in America, it was the most enjoyable tour of his career.

Cameron Daddo and Phil Morris filming a racing scene

Cam won the 1993 Australian Logie Award for Most Popular Actor

A lot of time is spent waiting on a movie set.

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The producer, Damien Parer, Jr., and Skip Watkins, the stills photographer, briefed me on how to play my part as an immobile spectator, in my screen debut.

With Lynne Tolman, of the Major Taylor Association, at the Taylor Sculpture, Worcester Massachusetts, June 2011

The Sydney Cricket Ground, January 1903. Grandstands are lit by  electric lights, and gas lights are suspended above the one-third mile concrete cycle track that encircles the Cricket oval