For fans of The Boys in the Boat and In the Garden of Beasts, a pulse-pounding tale of triumph by an improbable team of upstarts over Hitler’s fearsome Silver Arrows during the golden age of auto racing.
They were the unlikeliest of heroes. Rene Dreyfus, a former top driver on the international racecar circuit, had been banned from the best European teams—and fastest cars—by the mid-1930s because of his Jewish heritage. Charles Weiffenbach, head of the down-on-its-luck automaker Delahaye, was desperately trying to save his company as the world teetered toward the brink. And Lucy Schell, the adventurous daughter of an American multi-millionaire, yearned to reclaim the glory of her rally-driving days.
As Nazi Germany launched its campaign of racial terror and pushed the world toward war, these three misfits banded together to challenge Hitler’s dominance at the apex of motorsport: the Grand Prix. Their quest for redemption culminated in a remarkable race that is still talked about in racing circles to this day—but which, soon after it ended, Hitler attempted to completely erase from history.
Bringing to life this glamorous era and the sport that defined it, Faster chronicles one of the most inspiring, death-defying upsets of all time: a symbolic blow against the Nazis during history’s darkest hour.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Jesse Owens humiliated the Nazis at the 1936 Olympics, but he wasn’t the only person to openly debunk Hitler’s warped worldview. Journalist Neal Bascomb resuscitates the obscure history of Jewish race car driver René Dreyfus, making numerous pit stops into the annals of history to drag this amazing true story back into focus. We were fascinated by the inspiring lives of Dreyfus—who was blackballed due to his heritage—and Lucy Schell, the adventurous former rally driver who recruited him for the ultimate challenge: beating Germany’s best drivers at the Grand Prix. The duo’s quest for redemption and credibility in the darkness of 1930s Europe is one of the great underdog stories of modern history. Like many racing stories, Faster is an incredibly exciting read.
Historian Bascomb (The Escape Artists) dramatizes the Golden Era of Grand Prix racing and the showdown between French-Jewish driver Ren Dreyfus and German champion Rudi Caracciola at the 1938 Pau Grand Prix in this exuberant chronicle. Bascomb sketches the early history of motor racing, including the 1903 Paris to Madrid race that killed more than a dozen people, and charts the precipitous rise of German drivers and their Mercedes-Benz "Silver Arrows" after car enthusiast Adolf Hitler (who kept a life-sized portrait of Henry Ford behind his desk) came to power. As the narrative around Grand Prix racing shifted from driver vs. driver to nation vs. nation, England, France, and Italy fell behind Germany. American heiress and race car driver Lucy Schell helped to change that dynamic, however, by funding French automaker Delahaye's efforts to build a car fast enough to compete with Hitler's "mechanized army" of drivers. With Dreyfus whose Jewish heritage excluded him from the sport's best teams behind the wheel, the Delahaye 145 went head-to-head with Mercedes-Benz on a treacherous racetrack in the French village of Pau and won. Bascomb packs the book with colorful details and expertly captures the thrill and terror of early-20th-century auto racing. This rousing popular history fires on all cylinders.