Speed Was My Life

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by Alfred Neubauer.

207 pp., 8-3/4in. x 8-1/2 in. (Barrie and Rockliff, 2, Clement’s Inn, Strand, London, W.C.2. 21s.). Translated by Charles Meisl.

Here is the long-awaited book by Herr Neubauer, the legendary figure who controlled Mercedes-Benz activities on the racing circuits of the world. Everyone who knew the rotund Daimler-Benz Competition Manager loved him as much as the drivers sometimes feared him. Now he has retired and has written his autobiography, which was first published in German two years ago under the title of “Manner, Frauen und Motoren.”

The English version has a foreword by Stirling Moss. It is a quite enthralling book, although disappointment may be felt in some quarters that Neubauer has written it as a “popular” book, with the accent on sensationalism, and had he not been so close to the centre of motor-racing affairs one might find it hard to believe the veracity of some of the fantastic stories he has to tell. The reviewer would, personally, have preferred reference to “Silver Arrows” and “Silver Fishes” (Auto Unions) to have been omitted, while inevitably even Neubauer (or his translator) has not prevented errors creeping in – it was an Alta, not an Alfa, which started the “oil incident” in the 1938 Donington G.P., for instance. Further, cliches like “death stood grinning over our shoulder,” (referring to Levegh and the tragic Le Mans race) make one yawn and wonder if one wants to read on.

But setting aside these little grumbles, Neubauer packs a lifetime of excitement and interest into his absorbing story and in 203 pages (the index occupies the remaining four) one feels he doesn’t tell more than half of it – why Moss was allowed to beat Fangio at Aintree is not disclosed and that race occupies – just 13 words. He tells dramatically of Varzi’s addiction to drugs, gives a new version of how Rosemeyer was killed and many other human, vital stories.

This is a controversial book, for many who read it are bound to question how certain incidents which Neubauer recounts could have happened as described. But this merely adds to the interest of a book written by one of the greatest and most knowledgeable motor-racing characters of all time, who commenced his own career as a racing driver in the 1922 Targa Florio at the wheel of a 1,100-c.c. Sascha (Austro-Daimler). Having read “Speed Was My Life ” it should be handed to your wife or girl friend, who will enjoy it probably more than you did, because technicalities will not be queried and this is a book packed with human interest. – W. B.