History In Motorsports: The Jewish Racing Driver Who Beat the Nazis

Cars, Features I By Peter Nelson I March 18, 2020

MERCEDES-BENZ CLASSIC ARCHIVES

More book recommendations to present to our readership! We haven’t read this one yet, but you can count on us picking up a copy soon. Hat-tip to Road And Track for doing a great piece containing some pretty substantial excerpts. Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler’s Best looks to be an absolutely fascinating read. Here’s some description of what it’s all about:

A woman named Lucy Schell decided that something had to be done—so she launched her own racing team. A dazzlingly fine driver in her own right, Lucy had cash to spend, reasons of her own to challenge the Nazis, and the will to claim her place in a world dominated by men. For a car, she chose the most unlikely of manufacturers: Delahaye. Managed by Charles Weiffenbach, the old French firm was known for producing sturdy, staid vehicles, mostly trucks. Racing seemed like a path to save the small company. For a driver, Lucy recruited René Dreyfus. Once a meteoric up-and-comer, he had been excluded from competing on the best teams in the best cars, all because of his Jewish heritage.

Triumph over the Nazis promised redemption for all of them. If it was to happen, the opening race of the new formula Grand Prix season in 1938 would provide their best chance. This is the tale of the thrilling first lap of that race—the photo above shows the cars as they leapt off the starting line. This story is excerpted from Neal Bascomb’s new book Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler's Best, available from Amazon or your local bookstore now.

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