He was known as "Umbrella Mike": a hard man among the beautiful people. He moved among the elite of New York society with little notice, his sharply cocked fedora, his broad Irish face and his ever-present cigar setting him apart from the celebrities and socialites.
Umbrella Mike is Michael Joseph Boyle, the corrupt leader of Chicago's most powerful union and himself a Chicago gangster on friendly terms with Al Capone. Passionate about high-class automobiles, Umbrella Mike was one of the few who could afford the luxury of racing during the hardship of the Depression. In 1937, dogged by adverse publicity and a barrage of disasters, the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup was held on Long Island.
Brock Yates — noted editor, columnist and sports analyst and commentator — remarkably chronicles the dramatic events that unfolded during this most controversial of races — pitting against one another a Nazi poster child, a German-hating Swiss, and the brilliant American underdog who has a trick or two up his sleeve.
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Brock Yates is editor-at-large and featured columnist for Car and Driver magazine, erstwhile CBS Sports analyst, and commentator for the Speedvision Motorsports Cable Network. He is the author of many works, including the screenplay for "The Cannonball Run." He lives in upstate New York.From Booklist:
Umbrella Mike, aka Michael Joseph Boyle--union official, friend of Al Capone, and auto-racing aficionado--is spiritedly limned in this Depression-era chronicle of a gangster's progress and the establishment of the Indianapolis 500 as the nation's preeminent auto race. Truly larger than life, Boyle got involved in the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup race, which introduced Nazism in motor sports. The Vanderbilt competition, which flourished 1904-16 and was revived in 1936 and 1937, attracted European as well as American drivers, thanks to a hefty prize purse. That auto racing got mixed up in the times' turbulent politics isn't surprising, but that Chicago gangsterism was part of the heady mix adds the brio that makes the book special. Until now, Boyle has been overlooked by students of the Chicago Outfit, and Yates does much to make amends. Needless to say, this is also a great book for auto-racing enthusiasts, an excellent shelf mate for Yates' pictorial study of the 1936 and 1937 Vanderbilt Cup events, Vanderbilt Cup Race (1997). Mike Tribby
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