Category Archive 'Delahaye'

23 Mar 2020

How a Jewish Driver Funded by an American Heiress Beat Hitler’s Silver Arrows

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The Delahaye 145 that Dreyfus drove in the 1938 Pau Grand Prix.

“In the 1930s, Adolf Hitler funded the most powerful racing program in the world. An American heiress, a Jewish driver, and a struggling French automaker banded together to defeat them on the racetrack.” Road and Track.

In 1933, the newly-elected leader of Germany, Adolf Hitler, announced that the Third Reich would dominate the Grand Prix. After the government poured funds into Mercedes and Auto Union, their top drivers Rudi Caracciola and Bernd Rosemeyer swept the field in their supercharged Silver Arrow race cars.

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.

— excerpted from the new book Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler’s Best.

RTWT


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