The Fast Times of Albert Champion: From Record-Setting Racer to Dashing Tycoon, An Untold Story of Speed, Success, and Betrayal
Champion rose from poverty in Paris to great wealth and fame in both his native France and the United States. As a bicycle racer, he set more than a hundred world records. When the urban speed limit was ten miles per hour, he was the first ever to drive a mile in under a minute on a motorcycle. Following a severe car-racing crash, he was confined in traction for eleven weeks. Handicapped but undeterred, he hobbled out of the hospital on crutches and recovered to win the French national cycling championship.
Champion invested his prize money to become a tycoon in the booming American auto industry. Working closely with the leading players in this new and revolutionary field of commerce, he amassed thirty US patents. His contemporaries included Charles Lindbergh, who endorsed Champion’s spark plugs in an ad by saying, "AC Spark Plugs kept my engine running perfectly"; Louis Chevrolet, whom Champion backed financially until it came out that he was trying to seduce Chevrolet’s wife, which led to a fight and the end of their friendship; and William Durant, founder of a "new holding company" called General Motors.
Good looking and a natty dresser, Champion was an incorrigible ladies’ man, whose many dalliances were fodder for the papers. In the end, it was a love triangle that resulted in his death under mysterious circumstances.
Illustrated with period photographs, advertisements, and press clippings, and drawing on Champion’s personal scrapbook as well as those of his family members, The Fast Times of Albert Champion is the first major biography of this daring cyclist, car racer, and early auto-industry innovator, whose passion for speed helped define the character of the twentieth century.