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Umbrella Mike: The True Story of the Chicago Gangster Behind the Indy 500 Hardcover – 1 Jun 2006

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£16.99 FREE Delivery in the UK. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we dispatch the item. Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press (1 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560257768
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560257769
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 16.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,400,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"What makes the book so compelling is how human a story this is. Yates relied on the recollections of many of the great writers and competitors of the time. All told, this is a remarkable chronicle of a time and sport, lively and historically rich, that brings needed color to the era."

About the Author

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 Against Death and Time, The Sunday Driver, and the screenplay for The Cannonball Run. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book

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MICHAEL JOSEPH BOYLE was a hard man among the beautiful people. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Steven Coe on 6 July 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
"Boyle" of the Boyle Special 11 Feb. 2007
By James A. Kroeger - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting book that provides the real story of the owner of Wilbur Shaw's last two Indy-winning rides. Gives you a real feel for racing in the 1930's. Only negative is that some of the details are repetitive (Yates described the differences between 1930s Indy Cars and the high-tech German racers at least three times).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Not Really about Umbrella Mike - Title is a misnomer 24 Aug. 2009
By M. Harwood - Published on
I picked up this book because the title and description on the back cover make it sound like it is about a gangster's life style and his interest in the Indy 500. While there is a wisp of a thread that runs through the book about Mike Boyle and his interest in the race, the book is more about the early years of the Indy 500. It goes through the winners of each year in a repetitive fashion in a manner that 5 chapters could easily be condensed to one. There are also a number of sentences that are repeated, nearly word for word, over and over in several different chapters that lends the book a redundancy of thought. Specifically note the references every few chapters about WWII.

If you are a big fan of Indy Racing, there are some interesting facts (not necessarily enough to warrant reading this book), but if you seek history on a gangster life style, skip this book. The rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon (Aug 09) is definitely overrated.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
One of the more interesting Indy 500 owners 13 Feb. 2007
By Rand Thompson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was a good read on one of the more interesting characters in Indianapolis 500 history. There has been little previous information about one of the most successful car owners in Indy history.

The material was not too in depth, but gave a good account of the Boyle Maserati that won the Indy 500 in 1939-40 with Wilbur Shaw behind the wheel.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Umbrella Mike: The True Story of the Chicago Gangster Behind the Indy 500 6 April 2014
By Dennis E. Horvath - Published on
Format: Paperback
The setting is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but that is only part of what intrigued me about the story. Umbrella Mike is the backstory of one of the most successful racing teams in prewar IMS history. Author Brock Yates documents Mike Boyle’s love of high-speed automobiles that began at age of sixteen when he attended the Chicago Times-Herald race on November 28, 1895 (one of the America’s first auto races). This event later led to his quest to win the Indianapolis 500. Boyle cars won the 500 three times, once with Bill Cummings in 1934, and twice with Wilbur Shaw in 1939 and 1940.

Michael J. Boyle, known as “Umbrella Mike,” was the business agent of Chicago’s International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. In 1922, Boyle was convicted of racketeering and restraint of trade charges, but was later pardoned by President Woodrow Wilson. In the 1920’s, Boyle’s passion for American auto racing led him to field entries in series of success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In 1934, chief mechanic Cotton Henning built a strong relationship with Boyle and established a multicar shop on Gent Street near the Speedway. They usually had three or four entries, while most other teams had one or two. Most cars were owned by individual sportsmen. Some of them were hands-on owners while others were financial backers only.

Boyle’s quest for new speedsters led him to the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup race on Long Island, NY where he witnessed the dominance of European-built machines. Here he became further acquainted with Wilbur Shaw driving a Maserati. In early 1939, Henning was dispatched to Maserati shops in Bologna, Italy to procure a new racer for Boyle’s team. Shaw was assigned to drive the new Maserati 8CTF and drove this car to victory in the next two 500’s.

Yate’s motorsports research and writing yield an interesting look at Mike Boyle’s desire to be at the top of American auto racing. The author provides insight into all of the workings in this saga. His love for sharing this history, along with the backstory, draws you into the action on the track.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Disappointed 24 April 2008
By Burkon - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because of my interest in the Indy 500, because the title was very intriguing, and because I was familar with the author from articles he wrote for a popular automobile magazine. As it turned out, the book was not that interesting and added very little to my knowledge of the "greatest spectacle in racing". I rate a good book as on that I will want read again and again and that also motivates me to find out more on its subject matter. This book does neither.
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