THE SWIFTEST by Kenneth Rudeen


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This is the story of speed records on land, sea and air and of the runners, swimmers, drivers and pilots dedicated to breaking records. These competitors are generally very well known, people like Stirling Moss, Fangi, Nuovalari, Dawn Fraser, Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbell, Arfons, Jesse Owens, Major Chuck Yeager (he broke the sound barrier, remember?) and others. Rudeen is at his best when quoting his subjects at their moment of conquest, when the last ounce of energy must be summoned up by sheer will power, or when a skier or racing car driver is relying upon superreflexes to save his life. Magical numbers abound here: the assault on the four-minute mile, the 500 mph mile, Mach III, and so on. Many of the famous races are covered, including the Indianapolis Speedway 500-mile race, the Grand Prix races at le Mans and Monza, and quite a few coups at the various Olympic matches are described. Occasionally, a really articulate athlete or driver, such as Stirling Moss, will bring alive his love for speed quite movingly. All told, this is a quasi-inspirational book about many, many successes and a few brushes with death, but the writing is closer to a General Motors style job than to a Ferrari.

Publisher: Norton