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Grace
Hagerty Employee

How a woman and a Jewish racing driver beat Hitler in 1938

In May of 1940, soon after the German army overran and occupied France, a Gestapo officer visited the headquarters of the Automobile Club de France on the Place de la Concorde in Paris. He demanded that the club's librarian bring him the records for races sanctioned by the club. As his subordinates carted off the record books, he dismissed the librarian, saying, “We will write the history now."

 

Consensus holds that Nazis wanted to rewrite a particular piece of racing history, an embarrassing break in Germany's state-supported teams' dominance of Grand Prix Racing in the 1930s. The Silver Arrow cars campaigned by Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union had to remain the übercars, according to the Nazi narrative. The Gestapo wouldn't stop at paper records, either; according to rumor, the Gestapo was also trying to locate and destroy the very cars that disgraced the Reich in one of motorsports' great underdog victories.

 

Fortunately, the Nazis' revisionary attempt failed, and the truth prevailed. The Silver Arrows' defeat has now been ably documented by New York Times-bestselling author Neal Bascomb, in his book Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler's Best (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 2020).

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com: https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/how-a-woman-and-a-jewish-racing-driver-beat-hitler-...

9 REPLIES 9
TeutonicScot
Intermediate Driver

I just finished reading Bascomb's book this week. As a student of 30's-50's Grand Prix and SportsCar racing, it is an intriguing and very interesting human interest story. I think many of us could relate to Rene Dreyfus' career, feeling you've reached the highest point in your life only to have it taken away. And then being able to overcome your most doubtful and worst critic (yourself) with support from friends and family to be able to find tremendous success again, exorcising your own ghosts.

A good story.

knuck39
Pit Crew

awesome story....now for the book!...

CMP
Passenger

Book was fabulous.  Highly recommended.

Zephyr
Instructor

Great story!

shakingthrough
New Driver

Thank you for the report, I am about to purchase my own copy!

cem
New Driver

Another great book about that racing era is “French Racing Blue”, one of four books about early racing. It details the million franc competition as well. It also tells about how strong Alfa Romeos were in the second half of the 30s, often beating the German cars. Great read. 

katieNoborikawa
Passenger

Wonderful Story!

katieNoborikawa
Passenger

This has convinced me to purchase the book!

GoFast
Detailer

I've never heard of any 'rear' engined Auto Union racers. Per Adolf Rosenberger's suggestion to Dr. Porsche, the engine was always in the middle behind the driver where it belonged.