The Last Lap: The Mysterious Demise of Pete Kreis at The Indianapolis 500

The Last Lap is a gripping inquest into the fast life and mysterious death of racing driver Pete Kreis, who was infamously killed during practice for the 1934 Indianapolis 500. Author William Walker’s lifelong obsession with Kreis’s mysterious demise has created a rich narrative that transports readers to the glamorous yet perilous early days of automotive competition.

More than just a motor racing book, The Last Lap chronicles a boy’s rise from the back roads of Tennessee to the world’s fastest and most celebrated races, paralleled by the tragic collapse of a powerful Southern family.

During practice, Kreis’s front-drive race car crashed into Turn One’s wall, rode along the retaining wall for seventy-five feet, and careened down an embankment, ultimately smashing into a tree and killing both men inside. The following year, an impromptu “coroner’s jury” of Indy drivers and Speedway experts reviewed the accident, calling it “the strangest death in all racing history.”

Walker, a lifelong racing fan and acclaimed historical author, embarked on a decades-long quest to uncover the truth behind Kreis’s death. Driven by more than a love of racing—Kreis is a distant cousin—Walker’s dynamic nonfiction narrative reveals the real story of Pete Kreis, his colorful career, and his tragic end.