by Elly Beinhorn Rosemeyer and Chris Nixon. (Transport Bookman Pubhcations Ltd, 8 South Street, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7 7BG Price £29.95p.)
A lot of books about pre-war motor racing, in my view, suffer from narratives rather akin to telephone directories; they offer a lot of detail without actually telling you what things were like. Prior to reading this volume I knew of only two books which vividly painted a picture of the pre-war international racing scene. Now I know of three— and two of them have been written by the same man: Chris Nixon.
I have to confess I am completely out of step with our editor on the subject of Nixon’s work, Racing the Silver Arrows. I line up with the majority opinion that it is a breathtaking volume which exerts an almost hypnotic attraction. I felt so strongly that I must have it that I paid full price for it and not disappointed.
I was also happy to pay for my copy Rosemeyer, since our review copy seems have gone “walkies”, and I can only say that am equally impressed with this version of the great German driver’s biography, initially written by his widow before World War Two.
The book says as much about Beinhorn, Rosemeyer’s wife, as it does of the dashing Auto Union ace who died in a record attempt on the Frankfurt-Darmstadt Autobahn in January 1938.
At the time, Elly was Germany’s celebrated young aviatrix, becoming a house hold name with her flights around the world the 1920s and 30s. Two years older than Rosemeyer, she wasn’t exactly swept off feet from day one by the cheeky, confident young man, but the story of romance, their life together and his exploits makes absolutely compelling reading.
I am not at all surprised that the edition sold over 300,000 copies in Germany shortly after Rosemeyer’s fatal accident. Elly Beinhorn was a strong-willed, conquetish young girl, with a tremendous independence of character and not one to be easily impressed. Bernd Rosemeyer had a youthful and uncomplicated breeziness, enthusiasm and glittering driving talent — a cross between Alain Prost and the late Villeneuve. Together they were one Europe’s most glamorous couples, always in the public eye, living life in the fast lane.
Only 1000 editions of this book have been published, in an enterprising joint venture between Nixon and Frank Stroud of Chater and Scott, the motoring book sellers. It is expensive, but worth every penny, and an introduction describing how Nixon and the now 80-year old Elly came together to update the original book is a story in itself. Great stuff! AH