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Bryan
Hagerty Employee

Legends of Motorsports: Hellé Nice

She was a gorgeous former model and dancer, paramour of some of the richest and most powerful men of her time. She set world speed records and raced against other legends such as Louis Chiron, Tazio Nuvolari, and Count Carlo Felice Trossi. But at the end of her life, she was so poor she was reduced to stealing the bowls of milk her neighbors had put out at night for their cats, and she died completely broke and utterly alone. Her name is Hellé Nice, and this is her story ... 

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/motorsports/legends-of-motorsports-helle-nice/

 

3 REPLIES 3
OldRoad
Instructor

Shameful the way the not so well off aged are treated.

Grace
Hagerty Employee

incredible story. thanks for digging up these characters from the past, kirk!

Brooklands1907
Passenger

Dear Kirk - Helle Nice certainly had an interesting life, but her abilities as a driver have been vastly overstated by various authors, including Miranda Seymour, much of whose "biography" is "speculatively described" - i.e. made up. The Brooklands incident - never happened. The so-called "Women's Grand Prix" in 1929 - a short (5-car) race at the end of the weekend's racing and not the most important race (HN finished 15th and last in that one). The description "Grand Prix" did not carry the same meaning then as it does now, it often merely carried the literal meaning, "big prize", and did not describe the status or nature of the race itself. The "land speed record"? No record was broken, the speeds being well short of any official records (and there is no such thing as the "Women's Land Speed Record"). The "first Grand Prix of the year" was no such thing, and HN's 4th place was 4th (and last of the finishers) in her class, being also 14th (and last) overall - incidentally, 3 places behind another (in my opinion much better) woman driver (Anne-Cecile Rose-Itier), who was driving in a smaller-engined class. And so it goes on - in reality, HN rarely finished far from the back of the field. Although it is true that, to finish first, you must first finish, it is also true that, to be considered a great driver you also have to be fast and to have won something substantial, neither of which is true of HN. She did not deserve to be forgotten entirely, or to have an unmarked grave; but equally there is no point overstating her racing "achievements", which  were negligible - unlike her capacity for self-promotion (and for monetising her fame/infamy). I think she would have loved the modern social-media age...