“Even if you have never thrilled to the drone of powerful cars jockeying for position on a racetrack,” writes London’s Literary Review, “Miranda Seymour’s biography of the daring female driver Hellé Nice will have “Even if you have never thrilled to the drone of powerful cars jockeying for position on a racetrack,” writes London’s Literary Review, “Miranda Seymour’s biography of the daring female driver Hellé Nice will have you riveted to your seat.” Indeed, the story of this record-shattering woman–known as “Hellish Nice” to her fans and “Hell on Ice” to her rivals–provides a fascinating and unexpected view of Europe and America in the years between the wars.
Transcending her provincial background, and taking the name “Hellé Nice,” Hélène Delangle made her way into the Parisian demimonde of the 1920s as a nude model, ballerina, and cabaret dancer. But it was on the racetrack, thrilled by the combination of machinery and speed, that Nice would realize her destiny, becoming the “fastest woman in the world.”
Catching the attention of the formidable Ettore Bugatti, designer of the world’s most desirable cars, Nice gained admission to the exclusive male club of drivers. Her readiness to pose for the camera with seductively half-closed eyes and a radiant smile, coupled with her willingness to risk her life for a record or a win, made Hellé Nice an irresistible commodity for Bugatti’s marque. Impenitently promiscuous, her many lovers ranged from engineers and mechanics to aristocrats of the racing world such as Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Count Bruno d’Harcourt.
A racer of thrilling audacity, Hellé Nice competed in numerous Grand Prix, was the only woman to drive the treacherous American dirt tracks and speedbowls in the 1930s, and set new land-speed records until a notorious accident in Brazil nearly ended her racing career. Her comeback impeded by the war, she lived out the Occupation in the South of France. In 1949, she was mysteriously denounced by a hostile fellow driver as a Gestapo agent. Eventually, Hellé Nice would die in obscurity, the shadow on her reputation causing her name to be written out of racing history.
Drawn from a remarkable cache of newly discovered papers, Miranda Seymour’s Bugatti Queen sheds new light on both the treacherous world of international racing and life in Occupied France, while revealing the story of a fearless and passionate woman who lived for challenge. ...Continua Nascondi