By Gary Doyle
Ralph De Palma: Gentleman Champion by Gary Doyle

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Ralph De Palma: Gentleman Champion

A new book by Gary Doyle ©

Ralph De Palma was one of the greatest race car drivers of all time. He was a champion on the early American road courses, won during the speedway era and may have been the best dirt track racer in the history of the sport. He was one of the few American drivers to compete successfully in Europe before World War II, racing in three French and the first Italian Grand Prix.

His competitive career lasted from 1907 to 1934, driving a host of different race machines. After retirement, until his death, he remained part of the sport as its most recognizable ambassador.

Originally emigrating to America with his family from Italy in the 1890s, Ralph’s life was part of and concurrent with the monumental changes American culture and society experienced as economics, reform, immigration and war shaped the country’s history.  Affected by all of it he pursued fame and fortune through his chosen profession…piloting race cars.

Unlike many of his contemporaries and friends he survived the inhospitable cockpits of the early balky race cars and later, drove the high tech Duesenbergs and Millers that defined modern American open wheel racing. Through it all Ralph was a professional. His racing operations were first class and he always acted with great sportsmanship and integrity.

 Ralph De Palma is 384 pages on 80# matte paper with 300 varnished historic photographs and 20 paintings, many unpublished from 25 different collections. As in the Murphy book there is artwork to add interest, color and drama. Unlike the King of the Boards, where several artists were utilized, Gentleman Champion is illustrated by Peter Helck and Peter Hearsey.  Helck, of course, focused much of his work on De Palma’s exploits while Hearsey is tackling new subject matter.  The first edition is limited to 1,500 copies individually numbered and signed. For collectors there is a slip-cased version comprising the first 200 copies. For further information contact Gary Doyle.

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