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.
Motorsports doesn’t seem like a topic that has resonance beyond its limited confines. But in Neal Bascomb’s new non-fiction book, Faster, motorsports takes on a grand scale with a story of political, economic and social importance ... Bascomb has done a masterful job of framing a tale in a rich historical context, full of compelling characters, political and social intrigue, engineering marvels and dramatic descriptions of the dangerous world of auto racing. His thoroughly researched and documented book brings the venues to life, full of the smell of racing fuel, the sound of roaring exhausts, and the thrill of speed ... Bascomb has a knack for explaining the science and art of automotive design and racing without falling into the trap of too much gearhead talk for the general reader. Auto buffs will enjoy the rich detail, while those non-auto fans will be involved with the storytelling and drama. A bracketing device, where author Bascomb gets the opportunity to actually ride in a vintage Delahaye race car, brings the story into the present to great effect....Highly recommended.
Like many of the cars that race through it, Faster adheres to a formula and keeps a brisk pace ... If the outline feels familiar, the story itself is fresh, and told in vivid detail. Bascomb’s research — in racing periodicals in several languages and archival collections on multiple continents — is to be applauded. He describes the twists and turns of the 1930s Grand Prix races as if he’d driven the courses himself. And he organizes his material thoughtfully ... Though Bascomb focuses on the Grand Prix, he takes in all sorts of competitions, from rallies and climbs to trials, which are at least as exciting to read about as the more famous races. And there are some worthwhile detours...These digressions are absorbing but all too brief, as Bascomb hurries to the next starting line. By my rough count, the book features close to 50 race scenes and summaries. For me, this was too much — I wished that Faster were slower — but your mileage may vary.
In this beautifully told book, each page adds to the last, right up to the climactic last chapter. Faster captures, in detail, the glory days of early racing and the drivers who faced down their dangers.