Guest Post For the Last Great Race by Mark Morey
I love learning about covers and characters and this is what Mark Morey has to say about The Last Great Race
ABOUT THE COVER: The Last Great Race is based upon the life and loves of 1930s Italian motor racing champion Achille Varzi, so the choice of cover was quite easy. Achille Varzi was a heavy smoker at a time when the health consequences of that were not known. His joining the Auto Union racing team in 1935 set in train a sequence of events which almost destroyed him emotionally. A picture of Achille Varzi in an AutoUnion smoking a cigarette is not only typical of the man at the time, it’s also poignant that a few weeks after that picture was taken at Monaco in 1936, he was about to suffer two savage blows which took him years to recover from.
ABOUT THE NAMES: I have followed Formula One car racing since the early 1970s, and through that I was aware of the story of Achille Varzi, a good driver of the 1930s, until his private life got in the way of his racing career. When I looked into the facts about Varzi I didn’t realise that he was the best racer in a legendary era, certainly one of the best of all time, and that his love affair with Ilse was so passionate and ultimately so destructive. I thought that passionate love, the tragedy that came out of it, and his recovery with the help of Norma who came back into his life, made a great story. Norma Colombo was a woman against the odds. She lived with Achille Varzi unmarried when women didn’t do that, and when Achille broke up with Ilse she came back to him. That was just as amazing as anything that happened between Achille and Ilse. One man and two women who adored him completely, totally and absolutely.
The names of most of the characters are real, except for the fictional characters Paul Bassi and PIa Donati. Paul (real name Paolo) is a straightforward name for a straightforward man, while I thought that Pia Donati was a particularly attractive name.
Thanks so much for sharing Mark. Now…on to the info about the book: The Last Great Race by Mark Morey.
I love reading about any type of auto racing and watch many of the races on TV. How about you? Are you a fan?
The Last Great Race by Mark Morey
GENRE: Historical Fiction
This story is based around the life of one of the most fascinating and enigmatic sportsmen of his era, Achille Varzi: multiple race winner, twice Racing Champion of Italy and a hero to his many followers. Told partly through the eyes of Varzi and partly by fictional Italian-Australian racing journalist Paul Bassi, we follow the many triumphs and tragedies of Varzi’s life: his passionate love affair with Ilse, his tragic morphine addiction, his recovery from his addictions, his marriage to Norma and his re-signing to race for Alfa Romeo.
Only war intervenes, and Paul and his wife Pia leave Achille to spy for the British at the naval base in Naples. Paul and Pia endure hundreds of Allied air-raids, they join the partisans who fought off the German army until the Allies could rescue them, and then they survive in a near-ruined city as best they can.
By 1946 Italy is still shattered but life is returning to normal, and no more normal is Achille Varzi winning the Grand Prix of Italy that year. Over the next two seasons Achille Varzi scores more successes, until he makes his only ever driving mistake and is killed in Switzerland in 1948. Even though he died too young, Paul and Pia know that Achille Varzi would never have lived in his life in any other way.
“Achille crashed,” she said and drank some more. “I have never seen anything like it. He was the only driver taking the banked curve at the end of the straight flat-out. Each lap I heard the exhaust note of his car never wavering as he took that curve with his typical, stylish precision. And then on lap fourteen a sudden gust of wind came in from the desert, blowing dust and debris. I held my hat and glanced at the Englishman nearby, just as the wind caught the front of Achille’s car and lifted the front wheels from the track. The car rose higher and higher like an aeroplane, flying away from the track until the rear of the car hit the ground and then the front, and it rolled over and over with the most terrible noise. Over and over until it stopped on its wheels in the middle of an orchard. There were Arab men dressed in robes and they ran to the car. I was on the wrong side of the circuit and checked that nobody was coming before I ran to it as well, and so did the Englishman.” She drank more water. “I thought he must be dead, nobody could survive a crash like that, but he climbed out of the wrecked car and brushed dirt from his overalls. He looked around and saw me but I don’t think it registered.”
“Is he alright?” Paul asked, worried.
“He’s fine although shaken. He didn’t even light a cigarette, and then he fainted. The Englishman Raymond Mays helped him, and he drove us back here.”
Paul contemplated what he heard, and that would have been a terrible thing to see.
“I have never seen anything like it,” Pia repeated and Paul hoped that Achille really was alright. If he was taking that curve flat-out he must have been doing about 300.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Writing technical documentation and advertising material formed a large part of my career for many decades. Writing a novel didn’t cross my mind until relatively recently, where the combination of too many years writing dry, technical documents and a visit to the local library where I couldn’t find a book that interested me led me consider a new pastime. Write a book. That book may never be published, but I felt my follow-up cross-cultural crime with romance hybrid set in Russia had more potential. So much so that I wrote a sequel that took those characters on a journey to a very dark place.
Once those books were published by Club Lighthouse and garnered good reviews I wrote in a very different place and time. My two novels set in Victorian Britain were published by Wings ePress in July and August of 2014. These have been followed by a story set against the background of Australia’s involvement on the Western Front, published in August 2015. Australia’s contribution to the battles on the Western Front and to ultimate victory is a story not well known, but should be better known.
Staying within the realm of historical fiction, one of the most successful sportsmen of the 1930s, Achille Varzi, lived a dramatic and tumultuous life. It is a wonder his story hasn’t been told before, beyond non fiction written in Italian. The Last Great Race follows the highs and lows of Varzi’s motor racing career, and stays in fascist Italy during the dark days of World War Two.
Mark Morey will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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