The Last Lap: The Mysterious Demise of Pete Kreis at The Indianapolis 500 (Hardcover)
Death arrived early at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two years before the track hosted its first 500-mile event, five drivers and spectators were killed during inaugural races. Death has lingered around the oval ever since. Over the past century, fatalities have mounted and a total of seventy-three drivers, mechanics, and spectators have perished on the two-and-a-half-mile circuit.
The Last Lap chronicles one of the greatest Indy mysteries, the deaths of driver Pete Kreis and riding mechanic Bob Hahn in 1934. Piloting a front-drive race car in practice, Kreis crashed into the wall of Turn One, rode along the top of the retaining wall for seventy-five feet, and careened down an embankment at the south end of the oval. As the car smashed into a tree in the backyard of a nearby house, both men were killed.
The next year, an impromptu "coroner's jury" of Indy drivers and Speedway experts held an intense review of the accident, and they concluded that Kreis's demise was "the strangest death in all racing history." That informal judgment appeared in a nationwide newspaper story that fueled more controversy and debate among Kreis's relatives, friends, and race fans.
Lifelong racing fan and acclaimed historical author, William Walker's (Betrayal at Little Gibraltar) search to solve the mystery surrounding Kreis's death has spanned three-quarters of a century and too many miles to count. Walker's fascination with the mysterious crash is driven by more than a love of racing-Kreis is a distant cousin.
The dynamic, nonfiction narrative is the result of a decades long quest in search of the truth-the real story of Pete Kreis, his colorful racing career, and his tragic death.