The Last Lap is a gripping inquest into the fast life and mysterious death of racing driver Pete Kreis, infamously killed in practice at the celebrated 1934 Indianapolis 500. In a compelling narrative that reads like a novel, author William Walker’s lifelong obsession with Kreis's mysterious demise has created a rich storyline that takes readers back to the glamorous and dangerous times that marked the beginning of automotive competition.
Much more than a motor racing story, The Last Lap is the tale of a boy who rises from the obscurity of back country Tennessee roads to compete in the world’s fastest and most celebrated races, and the parallel tragic collapse of a rich and powerful Southern family.
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.”
Lifelong racing fan and acclaimed historical author, 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.