Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler’s Best

Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler’s Best

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Winner of the Motor Press Guild Best Book of the Year Award & Dean Batchelor Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism

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

As Nazi Germany launched its campaign of racial terror and pushed the world toward war, three unlikely heroes—a driver banned from the best European teams because of his Jewish heritage, the owner of a faltering automaker company, and the adventurous daughter of an American multimillionaire—banded together to challenge Hitler’s dominance at the Grand Prix, the apex of motorsport. 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.


From the Publisher

Cast of Characters

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Rene Dreyfus

He had “The Look—” one veteran journalist wrote “—a stare of searing intensity and undying affection that you lets you know, without a doubt, René was put on Earth to drive cars fast.” A near-death accident of his own in a Bugatti, and the loss of several friends on the circuit, broke his confidence. Then, with the rise of fascism in Europe, he was banned from competing with the best teams and the fastest cars—Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Mercedes—because of his Jewish heritage. An unlikely partnership with an American speed queen and a floundering French auto manufacturer would see hope return, but to beat the Hitler-supported Silver Arrows, Rene would have to find reason, and purpose, to risk everything. His is a story of faith and redemption, set on the perilous stage of motorsport.

Rudi Caracciola

After ascending to power, Adolf Hitler declared that Germany would soon reign supreme in Grand Prix motor racing. Success there would prove the might and prowess of the Third Reich—and help spur the “cavalry of the future.” To this end, he funneled millions to Daimler-Benz and Auto Union, the two lead auto manufacturers, who then recruited their country’s best drivers to the task of victory. Foremost among them was Rudi Caracciola. Although an imperturbable racer, Rudi boasted a killer instinct that had made him the top driver in the world. Matched with the Silver Arrow race cars built by Mercedes, he was all but unstoppable year after year. He became the standard-bearer of Nazi dominance of the Grand Prix, raising his arm in a Sieg Heil salute after each win and featuring in Reich propaganda that labeled its drivers, “swift as greyhounds, tough as leather, strong as Krupp steel.” He was the perfect foil to Rene Dreyfus.

Lucy Schell

Born in Paris, the only child of an American industrialist, Lucy Schell could have wiled away her days in the luxury and wealth of her family. Instead, she volunteered to be a nurse during World War I, and when peace broke, she turned to racing cars. She commanded any room she occupied, all five feet, four inches of her, whether she was dressed in haute couture in a city restaurant or in oil-stained overalls at the garage. She was equally comfortable in both. An early speed queen, she broke with convention to become a top Monte Carlo Rally driver. Hitler’s Silver Arrows on the rise, she sought a new challenge, namely toppling the Nazis from their perch atop motor racing. She started her own Grand Prix team—the first, and only, woman to do so—then financed with her inherited millions the construction of a formula car from scratch. She chose a down-on-its-luck French firm named Delahaye to build her car and selected Rene Dreyfus to be her champion.

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